September 27, 2007

 

War, huh, yeah. What is it Good For? Absolutely nothi Making Lots of Money

"How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins -- he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq."
Thus begins a must-read article on war profiteering from last month's Rolling Stone magazine. Read it and I guarantee it will make you angry and it will make you embarrassed to be an American. And the article doesn't even cover the atrocities of Blackwater USA -- although it goes into great detail about Halliburton subsidiary KBR which subcontracted Blackwater:
The discovery shows the dense world of Iraq contracting, where the main contractor hires subcontractors who then hire additional subcontractors. Each company tacks on a charge for overhead, a cost that works its way up to U.S. taxpayers. [...]

The hidden contract not only cost taxpayers money, it also might have been illegal. The Halliburton subsidiary's main contract for military support services prohibited hiring subcontractors to provide armed security. That job is left to the U.S. military, unless the theater commander decides otherwise.
The whole thing is so tragically comical that, if it weren't for all the dead bodies, it would make a great movie. Oh wait:
War, Inc. is set in the future, when the (fictional) desert country of Turagistan is torn by a riot after a private corporation, owned by the former US president, has taken over the whole state. John Cusack plays the role of a hit man, who suppresses his emotions by gobbling down on hot sauce and is hired by the corporation’s head to kill the CEO of their competitors.
Because it's Cusack (who co-wrote the film), because it's a kind of sequel (but not really) to the brilliant Grosse Point Blank and because the film was partially based on Naomi Klein's Harper's article Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia, I'm going to pretend that this film will not really be making money off of the war (if it makes any money) and obviously, even if taxpayers have to pay to go see it, they will be doing so willingly. The trailer looks good, not great, but the film reunites John with his wonderful sister Joan so that's probably worth $10 bucks right there:


War, Inc.
(Click to watch. It's a big file so it might take some time to load.)

And now, back to the outrage:
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the State Department had informed the committee that State employees could not discuss potential corruption in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unless the information was treated as a national security secret. Blackwater USA, the North Carolina-based security contractor involved in the deaths of civilians in Iraq this month, has also claimed that the State Department had banned company communication with Waxman's investigators, the lawmaker said.

"I urge you to reconsider the unusual positions you are taking," Waxman wrote to Rice. "You are wrong to interfere with the committee's inquiry." The State Department said it was cooperating with the committee and is providing the information requested.

"Blackwater has been informed that the State Department has no objection to it providing information to the committee," said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman. "We have offered to make available for testimony those officials in the best position to respond to the specific issues the committee has raised."

Waxman said his staff was told Monday that State Department officials with what he called "direct knowledge of corruption within the Maliki government" were barred from giving the committee "assessments which judge or characterize the quality of Iraqi governance," or Baghdad's ability to address corruption, unless the material was withheld from the public.

In the Blackwater matter, Waxman said the company claimed that the State Department insisted on reviewing and approving any documents the company gave to the committee. He also said Rice has refused to testify before his committee about the status of political reconciliation in Iraq, potential corruption or the Blackwater incident. Rice has ordered a review of security practices for U.S. diplomats in Iraq following the killing of 11 Iraqis this month while Blackwater guards were protecting a U.S. Embassy convoy.
Apparently, according to the State Department, the whole thing was a "misunderstanding." Of course it was. I mean, Condi has proven herself to be soooooo trustworthy.

Comments:
ODE TO THE WAR MUSE

For permanent sequestering
The bases have been built
Within Iraq, wherefore this Spring
The War Muse none may jilt:

Sweet Sister, blessed of beauty, grace,
How can we not attack?
The infrastructure is in place,
Nor does the spirit lack.

Dragging a stick amongst the brackish
Waters and muddy silt
We stir the fevers up--though slackish
Today, no none will jilt.

You see, the reason we did rush--
It was a long-range scheming--
Was so Iran´s hold we might crush
While folks at home were dreaming

Of false-alleged atomic bombs
Poised like sword Damaclean--
The planners knew, it was Sadaam´s
Base-camp domain, to be on.

So, built the wherewithal to launch
Incursion to Iran,
Begins vituperation staunch
Against them, child and man.

Why, even Hillary has got
Herself into the fray,
Unproven "terroristic plot"
Condemning by the way.

Meanwhile the poor chumps of Iraq
Despite such high-blown promise,
Basic necessities yet lack,
As we play to Osama´s

Prescience so well that he could shill
For all that we endeavor--
But is bin Laden breathing still?
We know that he is clever.

That much beloved House of Saud
With our regime, we find
Yet in the dirty bed, by God
Still makes its bump and grind:

There´s dicks and cunts and money passed,
There´s profits going round,
A dream--but sexy grunts can´t last
In face of the profound

Quick detriment of "Peak oil" now
On which is turned the corner,
So, in Iraq--and God allow--
We make ourselves sojourner.
 
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