Join 3,441 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


It's A Racket
February 28, 2011 1:30 PM   Subscribe

The U.S. governmental Commission on Wartime Contracting held hearings today regarding the corruption, mismanagement, massive financial waste and lack of oversight among private defense contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the commission's recent findings (more here), "misspent dollars run into the tens of billions" out of the nearly $200 billion spent on contracts and grants since 2002 [quote from second FPP link].

And according to testimony today by Scott Amey, general counsel for the nonprofit watchdog group Project on Government Oversight (POGO), contract award dollars have increased from approximately $200 billion in fiscal year 2000 to over $535 billion in fiscal year 2010, while the failure to enforce accountability has resulted in the contracting version of "too big to fail." More from the second [HuffPo] link:

The commission's findings...are just the latest in a litany of official and journalistic reports about the enormous cost of waste, fraud and corruption in Iraq and, particularly, Afghanistan. Just last month, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction warned that the entire $11.4 billion for constructing and maintaining nearly 900 Afghan National Security Forces facilities is at risk due to inadequate planning.The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in 2009 that an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion in U.S.-funded infrastructure contracting had been wasted there.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream (47 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure the guilty parties will be brought to justice.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:33 PM on February 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


Corruption and fiscal crisis: the two lemons required to make lemonade?
Jail the bastards, but not before fining them suitably.
posted by homerica at 1:33 PM on February 28, 2011


I'm sure the guilty parties will be brought to justice.

I....I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic there. It's way too sunny for me to be this cynical today.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:40 PM on February 28, 2011


About halfway through, for some reason, I started hearing that report in Carl Sagan's voice. Billions and billions and billions.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:43 PM on February 28, 2011


...and lack of oversight among private defense contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've taken to imagining this as this the bottomless pit we've been shoveling mountains of cash into for the better part of a decade.

Because when I think about the specifics, the blatant graft, the lack of military justice oversight over mercenaries (and the crimes they committed), the vast fortunes funneled into the hands of the politicians that were supposed to keep this from happening...

Well, my brain goes to a bad place. So a picture of a big pit with money is less prone to make me snap.

If anything serious comes of this, I'll be shocked and cheering in the fucking streets.
posted by quin at 1:43 PM on February 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Where is the fucking Tea Party when you need them? Seriously, if they actually stood for the principles they claim to espouse they would be losing their mind over shit like this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:44 PM on February 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


"Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win."

-Danny Dalton, From Syriana.
posted by clavdivs at 1:47 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sucks for the citizens but in the long run this is one of many ways in which American emperialism can be ended. These billions add up and combined with rampant tax evasion, the system will sooner or later break.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:47 PM on February 28, 2011


Surely, this...will lead to absolutely nothing in terms of substantive change.

/cynicism

/cynicism

it won't shut off! Is that a bug or a feature?
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:48 PM on February 28, 2011


I'm sure the governor of WI will standing strong and refusing to back down from paying any such contractors in his state. Yep, I'm sure he's all over.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:49 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Haliburton's market capitalizations is $43 billion. We could reclaim half that by simply doubling the number of outstanding shares and giving all new shares to say social security. We could increase the take by fining the recent members of the board of directors and executives all their shares. Ain't great return on investment for their share of the $200 billion, but hey.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:49 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meant to add this link:

What $3 Trillion Bought the US :

According to Transparency International's annual list of corruption in 178 countries...only two countries...are more corrupt than Afghanistan: Myanmar, formerly known as Burma...and Somalia. [...]

In mid-February, Hakeem Abdul Zahra, a spokesman for the city of Baghdad, said the invasion of Iraq by United States forces inflicted considerable damage on Baghdad. This does not come as a surprise to anyone who has seen television footage of what went on in that country after it was invaded in 2002. What is surprising is that it took almost 10 years for any Baghdad official to point this out. Equally surprising it that the damage about which he complains is limited to the erection of blast walls and the use of humvees within the city limits of Baghdad. Damage inflicted by bombs was not mentioned. In demanding payment of damages of $1 billion and an apology, Zahra said:

"The U.S. forces changed this beautiful city to a camp in an ugly and destructive way, which reflected deliberate ignorance and carelessness about the simplest forms of public taste. Due to the huge damage, leading to a loss the Baghdad municipality cannot afford. . . we demand the American side apologize to Baghdad's people and pay back these expenses."

posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:50 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was a time when it was shameful to be a war profiteer.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:57 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure the guilty parties will be brought to justice.

Many of the guilty parties are currently residing in countries without extradition agreements with the US.

No. Seriously.
posted by schmod at 2:01 PM on February 28, 2011


Recalibrate your cynicism detector, schmod.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:03 PM on February 28, 2011


I wish I was old enough in 2001-2003 to have proposed a kind of "winning hearts and minds ray gun" to the DoD and gotten funding for $200-300mil. Live like a king in Cambodia or Thailand off Donald's Rumfeld's evil stupidity? Somebody's got to do it, might as well have been me. Sorry taxpayers, maybe if you were luck I'd funnel some of it through Netherlands Antelles and open up few local credit unions as atonement for my sins.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:06 PM on February 28, 2011


Billions over Baghdad

Between April 2003 and June 2004, $12 billion in U.S. currency—much of it belonging to the Iraqi people—was shipped from the Federal Reserve to Baghdad, where it was dispensed by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Some of the cash went to pay for projects and keep ministries afloat, but, incredibly, at least $9 billion has gone missing, unaccounted for, in a frenzy of mismanagement and greed. Following a trail that leads from a safe in one of Saddam's palaces to a house near San Diego, to a P.O. box in the Bahamas, the authors discover just how little anyone cared about how the money was handled.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:07 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Six NATO troops killed in Afghanistan today.

Also just for context let's remember the undeniable role of Afghanistan's cash crop in all of this.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:09 PM on February 28, 2011


Where is the fucking Tea Party when you need them? Seriously, if they actually stood for the principles they claim to espouse they would be losing their mind over shit like this.

The lizard people just need to frame this as an attack on "America's military readiness" or some other liberal shenanigans, and the teabaggers will be pro-lizard.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 PM on February 28, 2011


Thank God my agency (DLA) didn't piss away billions on poorly managed contracts that left us wide open to waste, fraud and abuse. Oh wait. Never mind.
posted by fixedgear at 2:12 PM on February 28, 2011


Σ∪®∃∫ϒ þισ...
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:18 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That's [Frequently misattributed as a quote by] Milton Friedman."

posted by mullingitover at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2011


Shirley Diss...
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:25 PM on February 28, 2011


The lizard people just need to frame this as an attack on "America's military readiness"

If only the Democrats were this smart ... seriously, that's how you snag the high ground. I recall only Al Franken stepping in this rhetorical direction.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2011


For sure they are gonna intensify the prosecution and arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and change the story, to bury this investigation and turn it into "nothing happened"!!
posted by CRESTA at 2:40 PM on February 28, 2011


this is why we should have privitized our entire military ...govt always corrupt, filled with incompetence, no true oversight, bureaucratic...the free market weeds such stuff out.
posted by Postroad at 2:49 PM on February 28, 2011


That's just wonderful. College-dropout governors go to the mat to cut schoolteachers' pensions and salaries, while hundreds of billions gets pissed away in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rich get richer.

The shame of America is that the population cares more about Charlie Sheen than the country's descent into a Third World distribution of wealth.
posted by jhandey at 3:07 PM on February 28, 2011 [8 favorites]



Where is the fucking Tea Party when you need them? Seriously, if they actually stood for the principles they claim to espouse they would be losing their mind over shit like this.

Too complicated and no dark skinned president to blame.
posted by notreally at 3:13 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I love the money fire!" In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole? (Onion News Network)
posted by ao4047 at 3:29 PM on February 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile there's another bank bailout on the horizon:
Afghanistan is rated by Transparency International as the third most corrupt country in the world. But that does not seem to be affecting U.S. aid to Afghanistan, which continues to grow.

The white whale of graft is Kabul Bank, which needs a bailout that may top $900 million because of bad loans made to friends and relatives of high-ranking Afghan government officials.

Of course, with little revenue of its own, an Afghan government bank bailout really means a bailout by the international community, and more money from the United States.

posted by ennui.bz at 3:32 PM on February 28, 2011


Guys, you go to war with the private defense contractors you have, not the private defense contractors you might want or wish to have at a later time. You can have all the oversight and planning in the world on a reconstruction and it can (still) be corrupt, mismanaged, and a massive financial waste.
posted by Hoopo at 3:52 PM on February 28, 2011


> Too complicated and no dark skinned president to blame.

Too complicated? If the GOP can reduce the situation in Wisconsin to "THEM THAR UNIONS IS STEALING YER TAXEZ!!!", surely this can be boiled down to something similarly rabble-rousing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:09 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


What really and truly galls me is that right now we have three middle eastern tinpot dictators either out or on their way out. We have peaceful protestors in Bahrain, Yemen, UAE, Iran etc. all demanding the immediate resignation of the local dictator replaced by a democratically elected government.

Saddam's Iraq would have fallen this year. Hell, if we hadn't invaded and soured most of the middle east to the very idea of western democracies, the revolutions of 2011 could have happened years ago.

War is a racket, and the past three wars: Vietnam, Gulf and Iraq, all of them were waged by essentially the same cast of characters, with essentially the same, predictable results.
posted by Freen at 4:12 PM on February 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


you go to war with the private defense contractors you have, not the private defense contractors you might want or wish to have at a later time

Strangely, the even more preferable scenario of not going to war in the first place is never considered.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:43 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So a picture of a big pit with money is less prone to make me snap.

Yeah. When I think of all the people that are dead because of this... I'd be much, much, much happier just taking a couple trillion dollars and lighting it on fire, personally.

And I'm a man who likes his money. But the cost in human life..? It's simply unfathomable. WTF is wrong with the US??? We used to be the good guys.
posted by LordSludge at 4:46 PM on February 28, 2011


We used to be the good guys.

Not really.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:53 PM on February 28, 2011


Huh. The Commission was required by law to submit an interim report to Congress in 2009, and a final report in 2010. They submitted the interim, and it's plainly obvious to all of us how well that worked out. They're late on the final, but I suspect that the short- and long-term effects of the final report will mirror those of the interim report. The Commission only writes the report, it's up to Congress to do something about it. Shocked, I am, shocked, that Congress hasn't done anything to fix the problem of graft and corruption.
posted by Runes at 5:02 PM on February 28, 2011


well, Joe, $20 billion out of $200 billion is still only 10% graft and 90%....90%...why are we still there?

I saw The Beast, you saw The Beast.
posted by clavdivs at 5:11 PM on February 28, 2011


Aren't war profiteers traitors in time of war? Death penalty-type punishment, right?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:19 PM on February 28, 2011


the even more preferable scenario of not going to war in the first place is never considered.

But then how is one expected to support our troops?
posted by Hoopo at 5:56 PM on February 28, 2011


support them in peace, that is a start.
posted by clavdivs at 5:59 PM on February 28, 2011


Aren't war profiteers traitors in time of war? Death penalty-type punishment, right?

There's no fucking justice in this country.
posted by odinsdream at 6:55 PM on February 28, 2011


Aren't war profiteers traitors in time of war?

Yes. But they aren't considered profiteers if they are also the people in power. Which they were, and in some cases, are.
posted by quin at 6:56 PM on February 28, 2011


The result of this will be increased lobbying and political donations.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:18 PM on February 28, 2011


Aren't war profiteers traitors in time of war?

The Iraq war was not legally declared a war by congress. Convenient for these traitors.
posted by dibblda at 7:23 PM on February 28, 2011


A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon we'll be talking about real money.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:08 PM on February 28, 2011


Guys, you go to war with the private defense contractors you have, not the private defense contractors you might want or wish to have at a later time. You can have all the oversight and planning in the world on a reconstruction and it can (still) be corrupt, mismanaged, and a massive financial waste.

Wrong, the State Department had made a plan for reconstruction taking all of this into account. It was just that Cheney and Rumsfeld felt it was stupid, since there wouldn't be need for it. You know, like the President said: I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building
posted by mumimor at 5:40 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Revealing the man behind @MayorEmanuel. The Atlant...  |  UK respite and foster parents ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments