I woke up this morning thinking about Iraq. Last night I learned President Bush has asked for another 50 billion dollars to cover the cost of the Iraq war. Some news agencies report the cost of the war is now at 3 billion dollars a week.
How much more suffering can be inflicted on the Iraqi people for another 50 billion? How many more American soldiers will be killed while spending that 50 billion? Who is going to get that 50 billion dollars? What is not being done in this country because another 50 billion is going to someone waiting in Iraq?
Do some reading online and you can find reports of the dismal conditions in Iraq. The infrastructure is so poor that in Baghdad the electricity is on about 8 hours per day. That is the capitol city and is the most developed city in the country. Other places are even worse with sewage in the streets and no drinking water. Forget about electricity.
Are we to disbelieve these reports are just liberal carping and fixation on the problems in Iraq? Or can we look at this and realize money is just being shoveled down a black hole? Companies have been paid billions for reconstruction work on infrastructure and the situation is still abysmal. About 20 billion dollars appropriated by Congress four years ago for reconstruction has been spent.
Take Bechtel for example. This company has been paid 1.3 billion dollars for sewer project work. Less than half of the projects have been completed. About 40 percent of their bills for work have been for "support" costs. Nearly 250 million dollars has been billed under the category "Other". I am sure this pattern is repeated over and over again with these "no bid contracts".
I was looking at a list of the top 200 contractors for the Federal Government. KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, is number 6 on the list, you will recall the Vice President's relationship to Halliburton. Almost 6 billion dollars for KBR from the Department of Defense. The top 5 are a who's who of arms makers.
Verizon received over 200 million in Defense Contracts from the Department of Defense. And there is old Blackwater USA, the private mercenary contractor at just below 600 million dollars. Blackwater is the employer of former military people, White South African military, South American thugs, and Central American death squad members. Read Jeremy Scahill's book about Blackwater USA.
This is all published information and probably legal. But, it is interesting who gets what from the government. A tragic outcome, and also a pattern in the Bush Administration is, people who have blown the whistle on corruption in Iraq have actually been punished. For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.
Vance made his report to the FBI office in Chicago because there was no one in Iraq he could trust. He revealed an arms selling operation that was selling anything to anyone who had the money. These were the arms intended for use by the US military being sold to insurgents. Vance tried to expose it and wound up in prison being tortured.
Apparently, the unspoken word in Iraq is don't say anything about corruption or wrong doing because you will be destroyed for doing so. A very neat arrangement for any corporation who wants to make a buck.