Saturday, October 14, 2006

Iraq = $$$$$ for Milcons

You should view Iraq For Sale if you have not kept track of the obscene wasting of taxpayer money in the Sandbox. The documentary is a compendium of enraging statistics. The film focuses on five companies: Halliburton, Blackwater, CACI, Titan and KBR, but there are over 100,000 contractors over there. All are drawn to Iraq like kids to a candy store by the huge profits to be made providing the military with supplies and services. Forty cents of each dollar spent by Congress on the war goes to contractors.
I admit I was unmoved by the story of the mercs working for Blackwater who met their ignominious end hanging burnt from a bridge in Fallujah. These men are highly paid to take risks, unlike our soldiers. But there are some disgusting facts revealed by the film. Halliburton has received no bid contracts worth $18.5 billion.
One such contract was to provide potable water for troops in the desert. Of the 67 Haliburton supply sources tested, 63 were contaminated with dangerous microorganisms. This pathetic story drove the film's informant to tears. Civilians drive empty supply trucks in harm's way because the awarded contracts are on a cost plus basis. The more costs incurred, the larger the profit for the contractor. So expensive vehicles that were damaged but could be repaired are shoved into a "burn pit" or to the side of the road and destroyed. The litany of waste and greed goes on. Some accountings post the overcharges at $1 billion or more.
The documentary makes clear that politicians are complicit in the extreme rip-off of American taxpayers. All the companies exposed make large political contributions and their executives are Washington insiders with numerous influential connections. The most notorious example is Halliburton. The Vice President's former company has made $4.4 billion in political contributions while its stock price has inflated from around $10 to $44 a share. The take away line from the film comes at the very end when a soldier off camera says, "survival of our country depends on us taking it back." Amen. Remember to vote on November 7th because democracy is not a spectator sport.