America's corporate greed in Iraq
Date: Wednesday, July 09 @ 21:03:09 UTC
Topic: Troops and Tanks
by Dr. Kwame Nantambu, www.trinicenter.com
One of the major but not surprising bed-fellows of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is the callous, symbiotic collusion between the Bush administration and U.S. corporate greed--a classic case of massive, private profitability shrouded in a slick scam of public hypocrisy.
Now that the military combat phase is over, one must zero in on the fact that even before the war had begun, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had already asked for bids on contracts that would go to rebuild Iraq before the war. Usually the USAID has open bidding for contracts like these but this Operation was a clear, overt exception.
This exception was carried out in the name of national and homeland security by the Bush administration.
USAID asked six corporations for reconstruction bids even prior to "Operation Iraqi Freedom." They are as follows: Bechtel Group, Inc., Flour Corporation, Halliburton Company, Lewis Berger Group, Inc., Parsons Corporation, and Washington Group International, Inc. --a subsidiary of Halliburton Company.
Let the record reveal that George P. Shultz is president of the Bechtel Group of San Francisco, California and Casper Weinberger was it's vice-president and general counsel. Bechtel is an engineering company and construction company.
Let the record reveal that then U.S. Republican President Ronald Reagan appointed George P. Shultz and Casper Weinberger as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, accordingly. According to The New York Times of 15 July 1982: "Shultz is the fourth member of the Bechtel Group serving in Reagan's cabinet."
Let the record also reveal that George P. Shultz and Casper Weinberger ran Regan's presidential campaign in 1980.
Let the record reveal that current Vice President Richard Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, a Houston, Texas based oilfield, services and construction company from 1995-2000.
Talk about pay-back time then and now in American politics and the amoebic U.S. "military industrial complex."
And now history is repeating itself under another U.S. Republican President George W. Bush, Jr.
In April 2003, the Bush administration through USAID awarded the Bechtel Corporation $680 million in Iraq work contracts.
Let the record reveal that the Bechtel Group received these massive, lucrative contracts through non-competitive bidding.
Indeed, several Democratic lawmakers have complained that: "the Bush administration did not allow open competitive bidding, inviting only a few companies to submit proposals."
That's the way the System works!
Let the record reveal that President George Bush named Ross Connelly, a former Bechtel executive, as executive vice-president and chief operating officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)--the agency that supports and protects U.S. investment around the world.
President Bush has also appointed Bechtel president George P. Shultz as the chairman of the Advisory Board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq; while Riley Bechtel, the company's chairman and CEO was sworn in as a member of the President's Export Council (which advises the President on how to create markets for American corporations around the world); and Jack Sheeham, a senior vice-president at Bechtel was made a member of the Defense Department's Policy Board (this board advises the Pentagon on major defense matters/issues). The members of the Board are approved by Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.
Americans don't know about the Defense Policy Board because its meetings are classified and the information in these meetings is not released to the public. The Center for Public Integrity, a private watch-dog group in Washington reported that of "the 30 members that make up the Board, at least 9 of them are connected to corporations who have won more than $70 billion in defense contracts the last two years." The Bechtel Group alone "is currently working on 900 projects in 60 different countries."
Talk about public hypocrisy embedded with America's corporate greed and profitability.
In May 2003, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave a Halliburton Company subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root almost $500 million in contracts to repair and operate oil wells in Iraq.
That's the way the System works--big payback time for U.S. corporations under "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Indeed, Alternet reporter Ted Rall is correct when he concludes that: "Bush's right-wing gang of four--Cheney, Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz saw 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' as a chance to line their buddies' pockets, emasculate the Muslim world, place more military bases and lower the price of oil."
Moreover, it must be pointed out that after the September 11 bombings of the Twin Towers, the same Kellogg Brown & Root company received U.S. Department of Defense contracts to build detention camps on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That was no coincidence.
Let the record reveal that in the past couple of years, Halliburton donated $1.2 million to the Republican Party (GOP). That's the way the System works--big payback time for U.S. corporations under "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Although the Bush administration has not been able to find any weapons of mass destruction--no "smoking gun" yet American corporations have been able to find ready-made opportunities for mass greed and profitability in Iraq.
Indeed, the umbilical cord of private corporate greed and the Bush administration's public foreign policy decision-making apparatus has not been cut--as of this writing.
And in taking America's corporate greed to the next superlative, collusive level, one finds that in May 2003 the Defense Department hired MCI, aka WorldCom, Inc., to build a small wireless phone network in Iraq.
Let the record reveal that the American corporation is the perpetrator of the biggest accounting fraud in American business history and is not exactly a big name in cellular service. WorldCom is not a commercial wireless carrier.
Let the record reveal that MCI voluntarily "disclosed it's $11 billion accounting fraud and plunged into bankruptcy last year."
According to a spokesman for another acerbic, incensed rival American corporation, AT&T: "We don't understand why MCI would be awarded this business given its status as having committed the largest corporate fraud in history. There are many qualified, financially stable companies that could have been awarded that business, including us."
This contract that was awarded to MCI is part of a short-term communications plan costing the Defense Department about $45 million. But most importantly, this Bush administration's corporate contract was not put up for competitive bidding.
What's wrong with this picture ? That's the way the System works--big payback time for U.S. corporations under "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
In the final analysis, the stark, cover-up reality is that U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the international community that the military "shock & awe" Operation was necessary in Iraq because the "dictator from Baghdad," Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction which threatened its neighbours and by typical Euro-centric logic and extension, the civilized world which includes the United States of America and its citizens.
However, U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix reported to the Security Council on 2 June 2003 that U.N. inspectors: "did not find evidence of the continuation or resumption of programs of weapons of mass destruction or significant quantities of proscribed items" in Iraq.
It is this critical, troubling unknown that has compelled the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee to hold closed-door hearings in order to ascertain whether or not President Bush mis-led, albeit bamboozled, hoodwinked, the American people with the administration's systematic, circuitous, spurious, nefarious, exaggerated and maybe doctored evidentiary justification for "Operation Iraqi Freedom"--a justification that has resulted either by accident or design, in hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars being funneled, fleeced, and/or siphoned off to GOP corporate presidential campaign financial contributors.
The actual reality in this collusion between America's corporate greed and foreign policy conundrum is the fact that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Defense Department's main spy unit, reported in September 2002 that there was "no definitive, reliable information" that Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction.
The DIA specifically indicated that the "U.S. intelligence community had no hard information at that time supporting the White House contentions that Iraq posed an imminent and intolerable threat because of weapons of mass destruction." Yet, the Bush administration still proceeded to launch "Operation Iraqi Freedom." In a similar vein, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was subjected to "a roar of criticism over his insistence that Iraq's deposed government had weapons of mass destruction."
In a raucous House of Commons session on 4 June 2003, leaders of the Opposition Conservative Party shouted," nobody believes a word now that the Prime Minister is saying." A la George Bush, a key House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee was convened to investigate alleged charges that the Blair government "sexed-up", manipulated and/or "doctored intelligence reports" that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to make a stronger case for its "rush to judgement" war against Iraq.
Major fall-outs in the British fiasco are that Robin Cook resigned as Foreign Secretary and Clare Short quit as International Development Secretary.
Cook told the live-televised hearings that: "the fundamental problem is that instead of using intelligence as evidence on which to base a decision about policy, we used intelligence as the basis on which to justify a policy on which we had already settled."
Clare Short testified that: "Blair 'pre-committed' Britain to conflict months before the war, even as the United Nations was working to resolve the crisis peacefully." They both accused Blair of "honorary deception." And indeed, the reliable and respectable BBC World News reported that "Blair aides redrafted an intelligence dossier to include claims that Saddam could launch chemical and biological weapons at 45 minutes notice."
This malicious, bold-faced lie was then parroted by U.S. President George Bush as his rationale to launch the illegal Operation Iraqi Freedom.
L'avidite? Continue (The Greed Continues...).
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace.")
Dr. Nantambu is an Associate Professor, Dept. of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, U.S.A.