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The Great Iraq Swindle
August 26, 2007 11:00 AM   Subscribe

The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury
posted by mr_crash_davis (78 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I particularly enjoyed this:

"They were also given scads of money to buy expensive X-ray equipment and set up an advanced canine bomb-sniffing system, but they never bought the equipment. As for the dog, Ballard reported, 'I eventually saw one dog. The dog did not appear to be a certified, trained dog.' When the dog was brought to the checkpoint, he added, it would lie down and 'refuse to sniff the vehicles' -- as outstanding a metaphor for U.S. contractor performance in Iraq as has yet been produced."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:03 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


It all makes me a little sick to my stomach.
posted by newfers at 11:08 AM on August 26, 2007


I just threw up in my mouth a little.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:24 AM on August 26, 2007


You beat me to it so here is one little gem I found.
The Earnest O. Robbins II, Parsons Power Point Presentation (pdf) No wonder they got the business.
posted by mss at 11:26 AM on August 26, 2007


In related news --

Defense Contractor Was Paid $1 Million to Ship 2 Washers
"A South Carolina defense contractor pleaded guilty yesterday to bilking the Pentagon out of $20.5 million over nearly 10 years by adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of shipping spare parts such as metal washers and lamps....In one instance, in 2006, the government paid C&D Distributors $998,798 in transportation costs for shipping two 19-cent washers....Among the invoices was a 2004 order for a single $8.75 elbow pipe that was shipped for $445,640, according to the documents. Also that year, a $10.99 machine thread plug was shipped for $492,096. Last year, six machine screws worth a total of $59.94 were shipped at a cost of $403,436."
Blowing the Whistle on Iraqi Contractors Nets No Thanks
"One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

....He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket launchers — all being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent that the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

The seller, he alleged, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for: Shield Group Security Co.

'It was a Wal-Mart for guns,' he said. 'It was all illegal, and everyone knew it.'

Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit that both have filed in Chicago. In it, they allege that they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics 'reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.'

Vance says he has stopped talking to the government.

....Robert Isakson filed a whistleblower suit against contractor Custer Battles in 2004.

He alleged that the company — with which he was briefly associated — bilked the U.S. government out of tens of millions of dollars by filing fake invoices and padding other bills for reconstruction work.

He and his co-plaintiff, William Baldwin, a former employee fired by the firm, pursued the suit for two years, gathering evidence on their own and flying overseas to obtain more information from witnesses. Eventually, a federal jury agreed with them and awarded a $10 million judgment against the now-defunct firm, which had denied all wrongdoing." [more]
Those Missing Guns in Iraq
"The Government Accountability Office reports that more than 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and another 80,000 pistols that Washington thought it was providing to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 are now unaccounted for. More than 100,000 pieces of body armor and a similar number of helmets have also gone missing."
Follow the Money
"Watchdogs are warning that corruption in Iraq is out of control. But will the United States join efforts to clamp down on it?"
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on August 26, 2007 [20 favorites]


Whoa, whoa, wait a minute... You're saying war is profitable?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2007


Surely this.

By the end of his term, Bush himself will just drive a forklift into the treasury and start hauling out pallets of gold bars to take home with him.
posted by mullingitover at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


Remember when the US used to have war profit taxes, so that nobody would get rich off destruction, or be encouraged to profiteer?

Seemed like a good idea at the time, but now we live in a world where a good portion of Americans have convinced themselves that any tax, for an reason, is a sin, and that any war, for any reason, is a good plan.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


By the end of his term, Bush himself will just drive a forklift into the treasury and start hauling out pallets of gold bars to take home with him.

Do you honestly believe that there is still any gold left in the building? I think George has left his IOU on the empty vault room floor.
posted by malter51 at 11:42 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is sad, pathetic and disgusting. As a Canadian, you would think that I would take some small satisfaction knowing that it wasn't "my country" that is doing this, but I just feel ill for humanity in general.
posted by davey_darling at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


somewhere under this pile of straw is a camel with a broken back.
posted by jlowen at 11:55 AM on August 26, 2007 [11 favorites]


So what are we gonna do about it? That's right. Nothing! Back to watching CSI!
posted by calhound at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2007


STW
posted by haikuku at 11:58 AM on August 26, 2007


1. Start a war on a false premise.

2. Fund it with public funds, driving your country further into debt.

3. Employ mercenaries to fight; private firms to support your troops and outsource the rebuilding of a country you have destroyed to companies run by your buddies.

4. PROFIT!!!
posted by ericb at 12:00 PM on August 26, 2007


A few months later, in March 2004, your company magically wins a contract from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to design and build the Baghdad Police College, a facility that's supposed to house and train at least 4,000 police recruits. But two years and $72 million later, you deliver not a functioning police academy but one of the great engineering clusterfucks of all time, a practically useless pile of rubble so badly constructed that its walls and ceilings are literally caked in shit and piss, a result of subpar plumbing in the upper floors.

You've done such a terrible job, in fact, that when auditors from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction visit the college in the summer of 2006, their report sounds like something out of one of the Saw movies: "We witnessed a light fixture so full of diluted urine and feces that it would not operate," they write, adding that "the urine was so pervasive that it had permanently stained the ceiling tiles" and that "during our visit, a substance dripped from the ceiling onto an assessment team member's shirt." The final report helpfully includes a photo of a sloppy brown splotch on the outstretched arm of the unlucky auditor.
So let me get this straight: the Pentagon has spent $1 trillion and counting to go into Iraq, destroy everything in sight, kill one million people and displace five million. Then to top it off, pays some douchebag $72 million dollars to literally piss and shit on the people they expect to clean up this mess?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


stop the friggin whining!!! the surge is working!!!
posted by Postroad at 12:08 PM on August 26, 2007


Stupid question: Who this this article? There doesn't seem to be a byline in the article.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:10 PM on August 26, 2007


Custer Battles?! You just can't make this shit up.

Which, it turns out, is named for it's founders. I wonder if they even realize the symbolism there.
posted by ninjew at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight: the Pentagon has spent $1 trillion and counting to go into Iraq, destroy everything in sight, kill one million people and displace five million. Then to top it off, pays some douchebag $72 million dollars to literally piss and shit on the people they expect to clean up this mess?

You say it like there's something sinister about it.
posted by veedubya at 12:14 PM on August 26, 2007


"Stupid question: Who this this article?"

Other online articles credit it to Matt Taibbi.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:21 PM on August 26, 2007


From the Rolling Stone article:
"To travel to Iraq, would-be contractors needed permission from the Bush administration, which was far from blind in its appraisal of applicants. In a much-ballyhooed example of favoritism, the White House originally installed a clown named Jim O'Beirne at the relevant evaluation desk in the Department of Defense. O'Beirne proved to be a classic Bush villain, a moron's moron who judged applicants not on their Arabic skills or their relevant expertise but on their Republican bona fides; he sent a twenty-four-year-old who had never worked in finance to manage the reopening of the Iraqi stock exchange, and appointed a recent graduate of an evangelical university for home-schooled kids who had no accounting experience to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget. James K. Haveman, who had served as Michigan's community-health director under a GOP governor, was put in charge of rehabilitating Iraq's health-care system and decided that what this war-ravaged, malnourished, sanitation-deficient country most urgently needed was...an anti-smoking campaign."
I recommend reading Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone. His article from last September 'Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq' provides more detail on what Rolling Stone reports.

An excerpt from the first chapter of Chandrasekaran's book:
“If you had a complaint about the cafeteria, Michael Cole was the man to see. He was Halliburton's ‘customer-service liaison,’ and he could explain why the salad bar didn't have Iraqi produce or why pork kept appearing on the menu. If you wanted to request a different type of breakfast cereal, he'd listen. Cole didn't have the weathered look of a war-zone concierge. He was a rail-thin twenty-two-year-old whose forehead was dotted with pimples.

He had been out of college for less than a year and was working as a junior aide to a Republican congressman from Virginia when a Halliburton vice president overheard him talking to friends in an Arlington bar about his dealings with irate constituents. She was so impressed that she introduced herself. If she needed someone to work as a valet in Baghdad, he joked, he'd be happy to volunteer. Three weeks later, Halliburton offered him a job. Then they asked for his résumé.

…Whatever could be outsourced was. The job of setting up town and city councils was performed by a North Carolina firm for $236 million. The job of guarding the viceroy was assigned to private guards, each of whom made more than $1,000 a day. For running the palace–cooking the food, changing the lightbulbs, doing the laundry, watering the plants– Halliburton had been handed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Halliburton had been hired to provide ‘living support’ services to the CPA. What that meant kept evolving. When the first Americans arrived in Baghdad in the weeks after Saddam's government was toppled, all anyone wanted was food and water, laundry service, and air-conditioning. By the time Cole arrived, in August 2003, four months into the occupation, the demands had grown. The viceroy's house had to be outfitted with furniture and art suitable for a head of state. The Halliburton-run sports bar at the al-Rasheed Hotel needed a Foosball table. The press conference room required large-screen televisions.”
posted by ericb at 12:28 PM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm not a member of the Ron Paul fan club, but I gotta say I'm getting pretty sick of paying taxes. Paying taxes--even high taxes--wouldn't bother me if the money was going toward education, health care, infrastructure, poverty-fighting programs, etc. But when you see sooo much of it going toward war, destruction, and Halliburton, it really starts to make a libertarian candidate look more appealing. That being said, I hate libertarians and the whole Ayn Rand objectivist philosophy. Complete selfishness isn't the answer to anything.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:34 PM on August 26, 2007


Naomi Klein's forthcoming book on the rise of disaster capitalism should be a good read.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:37 PM on August 26, 2007


daveydarling: "As a Canadian, you would think that I would take some small satisfaction knowing that it wasn't "my country" that is doing this, but I just feel ill for humanity in general"

It's not only country, but my state. Thankfully it's not my city, but that's small consolation. I'm a Texan. Geography is irrelevant. Trust me. Bush is making all of humanity physically ill. That pretzel had the right idea. I don't wish him dead. I just wish him gagged, so he'll shut up.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:53 PM on August 26, 2007


Disheartening, especially after seeing "No End In Sight" in theaters last night. Future generations will be puzzled at how we started a war for no reason, forgot to make a plan, and then fucked up nearly every aspect of the war in the name of optimism/croneyism/"free market"-ism.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2007


Follow the Money.

Many of the seemingly stupid decisions by the current administration make sense if you analyze them by asking who makes money from them. For instance, the recent 60 billion dollars of defense support to Israel as well as Saudi Arabia.

For further examples, almost the entire history of U.S. intervention in South and Latin America can be explained by analyzing who profits from them.

U.S. foreign policy is about transferring wealth to U.S. contracting corporations. The wealth coming either form the natural resources of the victim countries, or from tax paying U.S. citizens.
posted by jsonic at 1:16 PM on August 26, 2007


Future generations will be puzzled at how we started a war for no reason, forgot to make a plan, and then fucked up nearly every aspect of the war in the name of optimism/croneyism/"free market"-ism.

They'll probably look back on it as the American Crimean War, only longer, possibly less competent, and hopefully not as the 'stupid little war' that set the stage for WWIII.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2007


Shirley This. Maybe that Obama girl can rename herself Shirley This for publicity purposes.

Impeach Yertle.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:24 PM on August 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


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?

The government has been doing it for a long time; Ever since the New Deal. It's funny how liberals are pro-taxpayer when it's the welfare queen on the other side receiving the benefit.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 1:46 PM on August 26, 2007


But there is no solution, is there? Just look at this site's reactions when Bush grinding is going on. Even here you get a few "defend Bush at all costs" jokers, and I would say this place is way left of center. In the "heartland" there is no way this is getting fixed, because that would mean admitting that Bush is wrong and that's just not going to happen. No one cares.
posted by maxwelton at 1:50 PM on August 26, 2007


GN, you shouldn't talk about your mother that way.
posted by maxwelton at 1:51 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


The government has been doing it for a long time; Ever since the New Deal. It's funny how liberals are pro-taxpayer when it's the welfare queen on the other side receiving the benefit.

Wow, you're just disgusting every chance you get.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:52 PM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


The government has been doing it for a long time; Ever since the New Deal. It's funny how liberals are pro-taxpayer when it's the welfare queen on the other side receiving the benefit.

Is that really the best you can do?
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:01 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Robert Greenwald, director of Iraq for Sale, vs Congressman Jack Kingston during Greenwald's congressional testimony. I don't believe I've ever wanted to punch out a legislator as hard as I wanted to punch Kingston while watching this.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:14 PM on August 26, 2007


Is that really the best you can do?

yes, it is. because you might have noticed how at this point American right-wingers, the ones who loved to lecture the rest of the world -- and the rest of America -- on the genius of the Bush administartion, at this point they're just like many dunk tank clown that have been dunked way too times in a tank full of shit and blood. no wmds found: a dunk. Katrina: another dunk.

and then Abu Ghraib, Harrier Miers, Libby, 1 trillion dollars worth of war profiteering and counting, medical insurance denied to children because the US government can't help them -- these fuckss get dunked every time in that pool of blood and shit that gets warmer, and deeper, and stinkier every day.

after swimming through all that liquefied shit and that innocent blood, and breathing that stuff, it is hardly surprising that their speech is getting a little incoherent now
posted by matteo at 2:24 PM on August 26, 2007 [9 favorites]


Didn't we have congressional inquiries into war profiteers after WWII? If the Greatest Generation (tm) ran the occasional post- war audit, why can't we?

Or, is the problem that we'll never get to the "post-war" phase ?
posted by absalom at 2:28 PM on August 26, 2007


The government has been doing it for a long time; Ever since the New Deal. It's funny how liberals are pro-taxpayer when it's the welfare queen on the other side receiving the benefit. Blah blah blah blah blah blahhorseshit.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:32 PM on August 26, 2007 [9 favorites]


absalom, no investigation into profiteering could take place that didn't focus on the biggest profiteer of them all: one whose former CEO is the current U.S. vice-president (a.k.a. Senate tie-breaker) and who is even receiving a "deferred" salary from them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:36 PM on August 26, 2007


It's funny how liberals are pro-taxpayer when it's the welfare queen on the other side receiving the benefit.

Seriously, dude, that's plain retarded.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


For GN and for the comment about arms sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia: money for big business has been shoveled out long before FDR came upon the scene to fix the Depression. If you oppose FDR programs, then let us know you will refuse Social Security and Medicare and unemployment and minimum wages etc. In fact, what we have is socialism for the military complex (govt money doled out) and capitalism (you are on your own) for the middle and lower classes.

Just how many military bases do you think we have worldwide and who pays for this and why do we need so many? Now tell us this was also FDR
posted by Postroad at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2007


You know what? Gnostic Novelist is right. We Volvo sipping, latte driving tax-and-surrenderers are just hypocrites.

We like taxes when they pay for education, basic infrastructure, medical research, a social safety net and universal health care.

But if those same tax dollars are used to destroy a country, then plan to rebuild it by paying rich cronies to sit on their hands, us profligate pinkos are all of a sudden tighfisted misers.

We should be ashamed of ourselves. Why won't someone please think of the private military contractors?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:15 PM on August 26, 2007 [18 favorites]


money for big business has been shoveled out long before FDR came upon the scene to fix the Depression

Indeed, the myth of Robber Barons being engendered by the free-market depends upon ignoring the government subsidies they received.

If you oppose FDR programs, then let us know you will refuse Social Security and Medicare and unemployment and minimum wages etc

Gladly, if I can get my tax dollars back. My retirement plan is taking care of and I went to school to avoid being a minimum wage douche.

In fact, what we have is socialism for the military complex (govt money doled out) and capitalism (you are on your own) for the middle and lower classes.

That isn't socialism. There is nothing terribly untoward about government contracting private business.

Non Free-Market Capitalism does not entail lack of government interference. There is no free-market on the face of the Earth, and won't be until governments are bankrupted and populations have to question their quasi-metaphysical stances on fiat currency and government.

The middle-class is of course screwed the hardest, oddly enough that is the class that tends to produce the most free-marketers and libertarians. It's rare to find a free-market capitalist in the upper-classes, at most there are "less regulation of us and screw our competitors" fulminations. Adam Smith, the most misunderstood and misquoted philosopher this side of Nietzsche, understood it. It's pretty human for people to want to extract what they can from government, as long as the government can satiate and remain in power, it makes sense for them to dole and dole.

Thankfully, I don't have any children because the upcoming generations are going to suffer greatly. I'd almost care, but I'll be dead.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2007


Gnostic Novelist == troll.
posted by delmoi at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


Seconding postroad.

Of course, the joke here is that Republicans don't really believe in the free market. If they did, they would have been happy to outsource our Iraqi contracts to the lowest bidder -- probably a Chinese or Pakistani business.

Republicans -- although they wont actually admit it in public -- do believe in socalism: socalism for the wealthy, large businesses, law enforcement, the military and the Church, which (of course) happen to be their main constituents. Republican congressmen are actually champions of socalism -- for their own districts. There is hardly a single government-funded slab of concrete in the United States that isn't named after some Distinguished And Most Honorable Republican Congressman.

Note that our very own GN is horrified by the idea of an inner-city mother recieving government funds or subsidies to eek out a meager living or even -- heaven help us -- go back to school and get some marketable skills.

But $1 million to ship two washers to Iraq? "Well, we've got to support our boys in uniform! Better not make waves, or it'll just encourage the terrorists!"

At the certainty of Godwin'ing myself, I'll just say that there is no longer any debate in this country between socalism and capitalism. Americans need and accept goverment support for the things we want. The debate here is what kind of socalism we, as Americans, are going to have: a vaguely center-right socalism expoused by the Dems or the embryonic National Socalism that we've experienced for the past 7 years or so.

It's up to us, I'm afraid.
posted by Avenger at 3:28 PM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: I'd almost care, but I'll be dead.
posted by mek at 3:28 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gnostic Novelist writes Thankfully, I don't have any children

Agreed.
posted by bardic at 3:58 PM on August 26, 2007 [6 favorites]


Avenger,
Your comment reminds me of this old Harper's article:
How does one reconcile the demand for small government with the desire for an imperial army, apply the phrases "personal initiative" and "self-reliance" to corporation presidents utterly dependent on the federal subsidies to the banking, communications, and weapons industries.... It was the only point on which all the authorities agreed, and no matter where the words were coming from (a report on federal housing, an essay on the payment of Social Security, articles on the sorrow of the slums or the wonder of the U.S. Navy) the authors invariably found the same abiding lesson in the tale—money ennobles rich people, making them strong as well as wise; money corrupts poor people, making them stupid as well as weak.
Link
posted by wuwei at 4:17 PM on August 26, 2007 [5 favorites]


It's not just our corporations and contractors and oil companies and others--we turn a blind eye to those Iraqis we installed as well: Hazem Shaalan -- the theft of approximately $1 billion from the Iraqi treasury.


The grand prize is still not yet won, however: Eyes on the Prize: About that Oil...-- "Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil."
posted by amberglow at 4:35 PM on August 26, 2007


By the end of his term, Bush himself will just drive a forklift into the treasury and start hauling out pallets of gold bars to take home with him.

What an optimist. There will be no end to this term. He will invade Iran, suspend what is left of the constitution, ban the 2008 elections, declare military law and stay in the White House. I am encouraging my children to move to Canada while there is still time.
posted by nax at 5:12 PM on August 26, 2007


My husband collects humor magazines from the turn of the last century. I was reading some issues from 1917 recently, and I was struck at the ferocity displayed against war profiteering. In fact, there were more cartoons railing against profiteers than there were against the Germans. Even seemingly mundane acts like storekeepers raising the price of butter warranted scathing attacks.
Then I read stories today like the ones posted above, and I really have to wonder just what the hell is wrong with us here in the US. Where's the public anger over this? Is it just outrage fatigue? Have so many people here simply absorbed the corrupt, Ponzi-style hallucination of the free market that we can't/don't even recognize profiteering as the crime it is?

/rant
posted by maryh at 5:35 PM on August 26, 2007 [3 favorites]




It seems there is us, and there is them: the people who are making the decisions that fuck us all.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:55 PM on August 26, 2007


Glad you pointed out tht O'Beirne thing, homunculus. Why any media would allow her commentary or defense of this war given her blatant conflict of interest has always astounded me.

Meanhwile, with these secret armies, there is no accountability but NYT and Christian Science Monitor both report that there has been a silent surge in contractor 'armies - numbers may be as high as 180,000 now. And: Most are not Americans. They come from Fiji, Brazil, Scotland, Croatia, Hungary, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia, and other countries.

Hmmm, maybe this will be a way to solve that pesky immigration problem.

But while the fat cats get richer, the returning contractors may be in even worse shape than vets since even those in this country are all but invisible and there is no oversight to ensure they get the help or medical treatment they need.

Iraq Contract Workers: Deniable, Disposable Casualties

Iraq's hidden casualties: 13,000 working for contractors

Bad enough our vets aren't getting enough help for PTSD, but we will have near an equal number of contractors with no one at all accountable for their mental health. And as for the non-nationals, well, they're just foreigners anyway, I guess.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:14 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, I don't have any children because the upcoming generations are going to suffer greatly. I'd almost care, but I'll be dead.
posted by Gnostic Novelist


Thanks for (advocating) screwing it all up for those who do.
posted by Balisong at 7:47 PM on August 26, 2007


Where's the public anger over this? Is it just outrage fatigue?

Not a single average citizen has had to suffer in this war, and without rationed gasoline and food, scrap drives, a draft, every able-bodied man off to fight in the war, etc., there is no way anyone's going to care that Hallanostic is hauling home trillions of dollars.

IMost people want easy money, and admire and uphold those who are brazen enough to simply steal it without even bothering to put a mask on.
posted by maxwelton at 8:28 PM on August 26, 2007


so who wrote the piece?
posted by ism at 9:11 PM on August 26, 2007


oh i see, matt taibbi "this" this article. his book on the '04 presidential campaign spanking the donkey was good and fun.
posted by ism at 9:23 PM on August 26, 2007


ism: so who wrote the piece?

Looks like it is Matt Taibbi. I agree with Heminator, he's an asshole.
posted by peeedro at 9:24 PM on August 26, 2007


Where's the public anger over this? Is it just outrage fatigue?

it's there, but it's hard to see. it looks like someone sitting with their head in their hands just staring at the floor, shaking it slowly.

after the 2004 election debacle and a democratic congress that's pretty much republican lite (not to mention the nearly daily grind of the vulgar disdain for the constitution or what this country used to mean) it's a little hard to imagine anything other then tearing it all down and starting over will do much of anything. to me at least. hell, i wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they actually passed laws against profiteering, bush would just wipe it away with a signing statement. cause of course the unitary executive trumps all.
posted by andywolf at 9:38 PM on August 26, 2007


9/11 changed nothing, and the war effort has changed nothing: all y'all still have very much the exact same sort of life as you had before 9/11 and the war.

No skin off your asses, the displacement of several million Iraqis and the killing of some 20 000 of your own countrymen in both public and private armies.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 PM on August 26, 2007


(and, seriously, what's 20 000 people in a country as populated as the USA? 0.006%? Not much at all. Especially if your advantages keep you from having to enlist.)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 PM on August 26, 2007


so let me get this straight: you're going to support a candidate who'd destroy all those things you believe in in order to depose a candidate who taxes you to pay for things you don't? that just doesn't compute, dude.
posted by klanawa at 10:27 PM on August 26, 2007


9/11 changed nothing, and the war effort has changed nothing: all y'all still have very much the exact same sort of life as you had before 9/11 and the war.

The Warfare State is Part of Us
posted by homunculus at 11:00 PM on August 26, 2007


AvengerNote that our very own GN is horrified by the idea of an inner-city mother recieving government funds or subsidies to eek out a meager living or even -- heaven help us -- go back to school and get some marketable skills.

Actually you are quite incorrect. It's the other way around. The war is an over-reach as American troops should be used purely in defense of America and war profiteering should be forbidden, as it leads to the MIC. This is not to say profits in war are bad, the fundamentals, not the extremes, of the market are still at play.

Why is it welfare statists often resort to the "Inner city mother/kid" thing? There are some pretty hard off people in rural/suburban/exurban America. Nevertheless, social safety nets are a must if the government wants to actual spend less resources in the longterm. Besides it's rather unseemly for Americans to be left to suffer on the streets or in dire conditions.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 11:08 PM on August 26, 2007


Wonderful imagery, matteo, but exactly what I didn't need to read just before going to bed.
posted by Anduruna at 11:11 PM on August 26, 2007


This makes me sick...and it makes me even sicker that this doesn't surprise me a bit.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:39 PM on August 26, 2007


People like those talked about in the article, should be hung from lamp posts with a sign that says "Profiteer".
posted by Snyder at 2:24 AM on August 27, 2007


Looks like it is Matt Taibbi. I agree with Heminator, he's an asshole.
posted by peeedro at 9:24 PM on August 26 [+] [!]


God, talk about pissing into the wind. To be sure, he punched out a few mediocre sentences here and there, but this article ( that we are discussing now) is pretty spectacular, in entertainment as well as education. Maybe his editorial adolescence wasn't up to par, but who the fuck cares? Shit like this is just plain hot:

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.

It's like I'm there right now. Anyone got any lube?
posted by mek at 3:55 AM on August 27, 2007


“This is not to say profits in war are bad, the fundamentals, not the extremes, of the market are still at play.”

The soldiers then, they risk less than the bankers?


“The trouble is that when American dollars earn only six percent over here, they get restless and go overseas to get 100 percent … the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag... There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.” - Smedley Butler
posted by Smedleyman at 1:48 PM on August 27, 2007


But, you guys don't understand. There is a moral equivalence between the apochryphal welfare queen and the quite real Haliburton rape. Don't you get it?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:50 PM on August 27, 2007


Why is it welfare statists often resort to the "Inner city mother/kid" thing?

Oh, come on, GN. You were the one who used to term 'welfare queen.' I'm assuming you're old enough to know that term has been conservative code for "Inner city mother" at least since the '70's, although Ronald Reagan certainly cemented the image of the African American Caddy-driving welfare mom to advance his own cause.
posted by maryh at 3:19 PM on August 27, 2007




Then I read stories today like the ones posted above, and I really have to wonder just what the hell is wrong with us here in the US. Where's the public anger over this? Is it just outrage fatigue? Have so many people here simply absorbed the corrupt, Ponzi-style hallucination of the free market that we can't/don't even recognize profiteering as the crime it is?

Last night I caught All The President's Men-- it was being shown on A & E or some such channel. I missed the first few minutes, but watched the rest with something approaching despair. When that movie came out, I remember how sinister the Nixon administration seemed, how outrageous it was that the GOP would wiretap US citizens, how obviously wrong it was that they attempted smear campaigns against the Democrats. And how heroic Redford and Hoffman seemed as they chased down the truth amidst all that corruption and all those lies. And that final scene when Ben Bradlee says "There's nothing much riding on this except the First Amendment, the Constitution, and the future of the country" -- an inspiring call to arms.

What the hell has happened between then and now? I can't believe how.... jaded I felt watching that movie. I couldn't stop thinking, God, we hadn't seen anything yet. You call breaking into the Democratic Headquarters a scandal? Small time crap. A slush fund held by the Committee to Reelect the President and used to pay off the players of dirty tricks? Pfft, that's nothing. Man, just wait a few decades and see if you can recognize what's become of the United States. [/bitter]
posted by jokeefe at 6:15 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]




In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi reports on how President George W. Bush-appointed contractors in Iraq are exploiting American tax dollars. Here, Taibbi narrates a video exploring the grim details of the situation even further.
posted by homunculus at 3:35 PM on August 31, 2007


In the end, I think it's piracy: Pirates have taken over the Administration, and they're stealing every g.d. bit of riches they can extract from the American people.

Good luck, y'all.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:08 PM on August 31, 2007


Related--on all the lies they're already telling about the upcoming "progress" report -- National Security Network: Drop in Violence?
posted by amberglow at 5:46 PM on September 1, 2007


And, of course, now that we're going to be installing a new Saddam there to replace the failed govt, this swindle (and the oil) is the reward. No Democracy, no wmds, no terrorists there, and tons and tons of dead, and tons of new people who hate us---but billions of our money was handed out and/or stolen by GOP crooks and their friends, so i guess in their eyes it'll be a victory.
posted by amberglow at 5:54 PM on September 1, 2007


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