Wanna get angry? I mean really, really angry? I just finished reading The Great Iraq Swindle: : Rolling Stone and I am really, REALLY angry now.
Iraq was the big test of the Republican vision of a privatized, outsourced government. But what it really was, was billions and billions of taxpayer dollars just handed to Republican-crony contractors – to do nothing or worse.
George W. Bush’s war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity — to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.
… What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureaucracy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profiteering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure — American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
Read this story. It talks about the environment in which everyone understood that the gates to the US Treasury were open, and the party was on, and the best part was the government expected you to steal, wanted you to steal, encouraged you to steal – because that was what the war was for.
The Bush administration’s lack of interest in recovering stolen funds is one of the great scandals of the war. The White House has failed to litigate a single case against a contractor under the False Claims Act and has not sued anybody for breach of contract. It even declined to join in a lawsuit filed by whistle-blowers who are accusing KBR of improper invoicing in Fallujah.
And then anyone who tries to do anything about it is fired and blacklisted – or worse. Worse, as in forced out of the protected, guarded areas and on your own among the insurgents.
What’s more, when anyone in the government tried to question what contractors were up to with taxpayer money, they were immediately blackballed and treated like an enemy.
[. . .] And how did her superiors in the Pentagon respond to the wrongdoing highlighted by their own chief procurement officer? First they gave KBR a waiver for the overbilling, blaming the problem on an Iraqi subcontractor. Then they dealt with Greenhouse by demoting her and cutting her salary, citing a negative performance review. The retaliation sent a clear message to any would-be whistle-blowers. “It puts a chill on you,” Greenhouse says. “People are scared stiff.”
They were scared stiff in Iraq, too, and for good reason. When civilian employees complained about looting or other improprieties, contractors sometimes threatened to throw them outside the gates of their bases — a life-threatening situation for any American.
Go read it.