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In War Profiteers We Trust
May 23, 2008 9:09 AM   Subscribe

According to an audit released today by the DoD's IG, there has been virtually no oversight of over $8 billion paid by the Defense Department to contractors in Iraq. The report confirms a similar finding back in 2005 that over $9 billion in Iraq war funds were unaccounted for. As a factual and non-polemical matter, this spectacular waste of taxpayer money has undoubtedly lined the pockets of more than a few war profiteers. To say the Iraq war has been plagued with rampant corruption, fraud and fiscal mismanagement is not an editorial position or overstatement: even lawmakers have begun to acknowledge this.
posted by ornate insect (67 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
War is a racket.
posted by notyou at 9:14 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]




As I've said before: Shitload of pardons.
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


What? You mean we haven't been at war with the terrorists in order to maintain peace and secure our freedoms? George Doubleyew Bush and all his wonderful peoples have been lying to us for eight years and yet he was voted in twice? Say it ain't so! How could this be?

We Americans never make mistakes this monumentally insipid! It must be a lie! I'm going to ignore you conspiracy theorists and go back to watching reruns of Jerry Springer! Today, a man's gonna find out he's been married to a lesbian!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:20 AM on May 23, 2008


You mean to tell me that war profiteering wasn't a felony before the fall of 2007? It's no wonder that Halliburton ran its contracts as a "cost-plus" enterprise.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 9:22 AM on May 23, 2008


How to end war: Constitutional amendment that companies providing war material during a time of war (declared or not) must do so at cost. Or below.

It's their patriotic duty, after all.
posted by DU at 9:23 AM on May 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Recently, Harry Reid said that we are spending $5000 a second in Iraq. Blew me away.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:35 AM on May 23, 2008


The First Foundation got it's start in some of the worst excesses of the End Days. The very wars and massive crimes that signalled - to those who would hear - that things were falling apart and centers could not hold provided the birthing grounds and resources that would be used to make that epic try for escape and transcendence. While the vast corrupt empires of those times pumped more and more of their money and blood into the interminable and incomprehensible conflicts and extended tragedies that were thick on the ground, they began to be - diverted. Among the diplomats and soldiers who actually walked those troubled lands, rather than the still inviolate corridors of imperial power, the idea grew that Something Must Be Done. So not all the funds sent to buy more and bigger bombs actually ended up that way; not all the fuel shipped over to drive tanks and fighters was so used; not all the hardened construction and camouflaged work showed up on the satellite maps of the WarFighters.

How ironic that the project was almost derailed by the righteous if ignorant anger of those who opposed the wars and other Imperial projects. What were they to think - they saw only rivers of cash flowing into an ocean of tragedy which was unchanged and unquenchable. Little did they know that the tributaries and eddies of that Great Fiscal Current, that massive drain on the Better-Off World, was sowing the seeds of a new harvest that would ripen to fruition only in the smoky aftermath of the failed Old Regimes. That had they been successful in stopping what they could only see as monumental waste and corruption and incompetence, they would have robbed the world of its last hope for a better tomorrow.

But they did not; the Pods were planted, the plans and foundations were laid, the Stores set away for the future. And when that glittering world of oily steel weapons and barbed television antennae came crashing down around their heads and the great Tide of Human History seemed surely to have foundered, capsized, wrecked itself on the rocks - when all seemed lost, the First Foundation emerged from the dust and the gloom. "We have brought you food, we have brought clean water," they would say from their quietly ubiquitous vehicles. "More, we have brought what you need to make your own without robbing your granchildren of theirs. Come, let us show you what we have been building - for there is another way, and we have started down it using the tools and gold of those who would have destroyed it had they been able. Come, there is still Hope."
posted by freebird at 9:37 AM on May 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


we are spending $5000 a second in Iraq

It's bad enough that were budgeting that kind of waste, but it's beyond criminal that we don't even know what we're getting for it: so much of the money just vaporizes, and there's no accounting trail whatsoever.
posted by ornate insect at 9:38 AM on May 23, 2008


its
posted by freebird at 9:38 AM on May 23, 2008


Jon Stewart recently had Douglas Feith on his program and that conversation is very interesting. It's not that we were lied to or misled or anything like that. It's that there are two alternate realities.

There's one reality in which the Bush Administration was not lying. They were simply incompetent, and moved forward on a mountain of evidence that was completely faulty.

Then there's this other alternate reality in which they were deceiving people back in the past, and they're deceiving us now by trying to make us believe there's this alternate reality.

The scary thing is, people of faith believe so much in this other alternate reality that it's actually becoming real - or maybe it's always been real! Maybe the reality I'M IN is crumbling around me and I'll wake up one day soon and discover I was always wrong to hate war and we had no choice but to take down Saddam Hussein in order to protect tall buildings from airplanes! And ..and -and there IS an Easter Bunny!

Omigod omigod omigod common sense IS wrong and deceptive lies ARE truth! I gotta go lie down. I'll be in a fetal position on the floor. Sucking my thumb. Someone hold me.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:50 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


$9B? BFD. I'd gladly have GIVEN those contractors $9B to stay home if it meant we could've save $3T and hundreds of thousands of lives by NOT invading Iraq in the first place.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:50 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


saved
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:54 AM on May 23, 2008




War profiteering makes me angry in a way that few other crimes do. I'm not sure exactly why, but it brings out an ugly, vindictive part of my personality that I don't like very much.

That said, after we overturn the inevitable pardons, and have the trials, those found guilty should have their holdings seized and used for reconstruction of the damage, and rehabilitation of the soldiers and civilian populations they harmed. The guilty also should be sent to prision... but not in the American prision system. No, they should do their time in a facility located in the countries they helped to ruin.

It just seems more fair: You destroyed this country's infrastructure, so now you are going to get a good look at what's left of their penal systems.
posted by quin at 9:56 AM on May 23, 2008


Related post: The Great Iraq Swindle
posted by homunculus at 9:58 AM on May 23, 2008


It's not that we were lied to or misled or anything like that. It's that there are two alternate realities.

This belief structure has been part-and-parcel of the neocon movement since day-1 of the Bush administration. I recall reading an interview early-on with some true-believer in which he outlined this exact attitude. Something along the lines of "we create our own reality and everyone else has to catch-up".

It was fucking frightening in that the guy was, at the same time, utterly serious and excited about this new paradigm and amused by the consternation it engendered on the part of anyone not on-board with the program.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:58 AM on May 23, 2008


we create our own reality wreck the house, and everyone else has to catch-up clean up
posted by ornate insect at 10:02 AM on May 23, 2008


Next person who uses the sarcastic rejoinder "Say it ain't so" gets kittens and catnip stuffed down their pants.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:19 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, ZachsMind squeezed in just under the wire, but from here on out: kittens and catnip. You have all been warned.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:20 AM on May 23, 2008


$Billions have transferred from public funds to private hands?
Mission accomplished, indeed.
posted by rocket88 at 10:34 AM on May 23, 2008


we overturn the inevitable pardons

pardons? who have they even charged?
posted by srboisvert at 10:36 AM on May 23, 2008


Freedom isn't free, fellows. Your tax dollars are required to fund these war profiteers...
posted by micropublishery at 10:39 AM on May 23, 2008


Patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings-
Steal a little and they through you in jail
Steal alot and they make you king

-Bob Dylan
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:40 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


uh, throw
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2008


pardons? who have they even charged?

There will be pardons given out so charges can't ever be brought in the future, by anyone (in America at least). A pardon doesn't require pending charges.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2008


This belief structure has been part-and-parcel of the neocon movement since day-1 of the Bush administration. I recall reading an interview early-on with some true-believer in which he outlined this exact attitude. Something along the lines of "we create our own reality and everyone else has to catch-up".

Ah no, that phrase first popped up in October 2004. It seems you've been creating your own reality.

(or inhabiting theirs)
posted by cillit bang at 10:49 AM on May 23, 2008


DU writes "How to end war: Constitutional amendment that companies providing war material during a time of war (declared or not) must do so at cost. Or below."

At cost maybe. Below cost? So, if you can manufacture weapons, we will force you, even if you lose money on the deal? I don't think anyone would go for that, unless there is also a draft and rationing.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2008


That's money unavailable for education, for health care and other budget items we "can't afford."
posted by theora55 at 11:06 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


ThorzDad: "...'we create our own reality and everyone else has to catch-up.' It was fucking frightening in that the guy was, at the same time, utterly serious and excited about this new paradigm..."

The really funny thing in all this. IF Bush had just sat on his hands and didn't do anything and Hussein was still in power, and we just let the Middle East fend for itself, would conservative fundamentalists today be demanding Bush's head on a pike for not doing something about those muslim extremists?

Bush has a lot of people to answer to, and half of us in the US were actually in favor of this war. Oh, They don't wear T-shirts that say "Look at me I'm a blood thirsty crazy person and I'm glad my next door neighbor's second cousin came home from Iraq in a body bag last month." It's hard to spot them if you don't know what to look for. They don't run around openly high fiving each other, but quietly they're glad it happened. They support Bush. They think he's done a great job. Even today.

Don't believe me? You don't live in Texas, do ya?

It's the little things. Bumper stickers. Signs on the lawn. Times when flags are at half mast and you don't know why, but they do. Gentle encouragement to buy something from that bake sale cuz if you do you'll be "supporting the troops" which is a loaded phrase that has multiple connotations today, depending on your company.

I feel like Daniel in the Lion's Den living here. Or maybe Stepford Warmongerers.

I'm surrounded by warmongering soccer moms and weekend dads. Very quiet and unassuming people, who when the topic comes up say in very polite and quiet ways that they were for it. Maybe they haven't thought it through as much as some, but they honestly feel what Bush did was the right thing. That the world is black and white, and we always wear the white hats, cuz we're Americans. Cuz we're Christians.

The current status of the Middle East is a festering blight on Judeo-Christian history. It is an occasional reminder that the Promise given according to modern western interpretations of The Literature has not exactly gone according to God's Perfect Plan. If the book of Revelation isn't going to happen, there are people on this planet who will make it happen by any means necessary. It must happen. It's prophecy. And these well-intentioned soccer moms and weekend dads are all for that: they quietly and politely creep me the fuck out.

Honestly. I don't think there's a right answer here. The first president of the 21st century was damned no matter how you slice it. I wish he'd been damned in a way that would make him okay in my book and not theirs. More importantly, I wish he'd a been damned by making a choice that didn't put so many American men and women in harm's way.

I never asked for Lieutenant Colonel Eric J. Kruger to stand between me and an exploding car, and now I can't look his sister in the eye. Almost four hundred Texans went to Iraq and came back in body bags, all under the pretense that they were standing between me and forces on this Earth that would seek to remove from me my life and liberty.

I never asked them to do that. I still say no.

We all know the real reasons for this war weren't noble or well-intentioned. Somebody somewhere wanted to make money profiteering war, and didn't care how many stood between me and bullets or shrapnel. So long as they got their cut.

How come they get to get their cut, and I don't get to tell them no?

I don't believe any of this bullshit about war and I never did. I knew from the start that the only reason we were going to war was cuz people wanted to profit from it. I thought it was just about 'oil' at the time. It's a little more complicated than that, but the end result is the same. War profiteers. Also just normal people who need to make a living and their job takes them there. Are all of these profiteers? What about the catering service? Someone's gotta feed all the troops. They're not war profiteers are they? Or are they?

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan provided jobs for almost two hundred thousand civilians. Less than a thousand of them are dead. One out of every two hundred contracted government employees. Not bad odds if the paycheck includes hazard pay. Still, there's gotta be better ways to make a living that don't involve so much lead poisoning.

How come hired civilians for the government get to choose to work for the war, and I don't get to tell them no?

How come heroic people in the armed forces get to choose to put their lives on the line for me, and I don't get to tell them no?

I would have told them no. I still say no. If Osama Bin Laden wants me so bad, he can come to my house and knock on the door. Cut through the middle man. Any terrorist wants a piece of me? I ain't hidin'. Stop killing other people to get to me. Stop building all this infrastructure pretending to protect me from Osama bin Laden. I'm right here. He can come get me his own self.

What do you mean terrorists don't want me? Why wouldn't a terrorist want to kill me? Don't I represent everything they hate? Aren't they supposed to represent everything I hate?

Despite the fact I was never for this war, and given the chance I woulda told him no, why do I still feel Eric's blood is on my hands? Why do I feel it's my fault? I didn't even vote for Bush. I'm a pacifist. Yet Eric ran off and died for me. He died for you too, though you may not have noticed.

I'm tired of people going to far away lands and dying for me. I never started believing in the hype, and I wish they would stop believing it. No man or woman's life is worth mine. I'm certainly not worth three hundred and eighty-six Texan lives. And counting.

Some say Jesus died for all our sins. If that were true, wouldn't the killing have stopped with Him? Why do we keep killing each other? What does this prove? Shame the killing didn't stop with Him. Eric would still be here, making his sister laugh, and I wouldn't feel guilty when I listen to the noise she makes.

I would have told Eric no. Hell, I woulda told Jesus no! I still say no! Stop fuckin' DYING for me, people! Did I EVER ask anyone to die for me? NO. Cut it out!

You can call me irrational. I don't care. No one's blood is worth mine. That's what we're really talking about here isn't it? Profiteering? The value of human life versus the cost of defending a Way of Life? Economics? Payments in money or in blood?

Jefferson said freedom must be paid for by the blood of patriots. I say it does not. Freedom must be defended from people who would seek out that price. We must learn to stop this mindset that it's okay to kill others so that they can be right. No one should have to die to secure what's rightfully ours. And no one ever should die so that some bastard may profit. Shoulda coulda woulda. It happens all the time.

These warmongering soccer moms have recently been trying to encourage me to spend Sundays at their church. I'm beginning to wish I could afford to move to a blue state.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:29 AM on May 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


Wet dreams furiously to freebird's peace-porn.
posted by lalochezia at 11:40 AM on May 23, 2008


The first president of the 21st century was damned no matter how you slice it

Cue the violins.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan provided jobs for almost two hundred thousand civilians. Less than a thousand of them are dead. One out of every two hundred contracted government employees. Not bad odds if the paycheck includes hazard pay.

Um, ok.

Between the strange "warmongering soccer moms" stuff, the Bush apologetics (i.e. Bush is just a victim of history), the war apologetics (i.e. the war was really a boon for the American worker!), and the overall rambling incoherence of your post, zachsmind, I failed to fathom either cogent analysis or any actual point.
posted by ornate insect at 11:41 AM on May 23, 2008


He's against it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:49 AM on May 23, 2008


All of it.
posted by freebird at 11:49 AM on May 23, 2008


Next person who uses the sarcastic rejoinder "Say it ain't so" gets kittens and catnip stuffed down their pants.

Is it the weekend ALREADY?
posted by rokusan at 11:53 AM on May 23, 2008


What about the catering service? Someone's gotta feed all the troops. They're not war profiteers are they? Or are they?

The "catering service" used to be provided by the military itself. They did a pretty good job of it, at least when I experienced it near its end. There was profit being made there, too by individual 'entrepreneurs,' but certainly not on today's scale.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:54 AM on May 23, 2008


War is a mechanism for transferring money from taxpayers to weapons manufacturers. Sometimes the facade of 'defense' is poorly maintained. Film at 11.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have some food.
posted by mullingitover at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2008


War government is a mechanism for transferring money from taxpayers to weapons manufacturers thieves, bullies, and busybodies of all stripes.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2008


Thanks to the plumeting American dollar, us Canadians are ALL war profiteers!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:14 PM on May 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


What about the catering service? Someone's gotta feed all the troops. They're not war profiteers are they? Or are they?

The "catering service" used to be provided by the military itself. They did a pretty good job of it, at least when I experienced it near its end. There was profit being made there, too by individual 'entrepreneurs,' but certainly not on today's scale.



Ahem. Food is still huge.
posted by fixedgear at 12:15 PM on May 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


What about the catering service? Someone's gotta feed all the troops. They're not war profiteers are they? Or are they?

This strange rhetorical non-question, and maybe I'm being too cynical or missing something here, reads, like much of the wildly tangential post it's lifted from, almost like a purposely faked parody of a "leftie" rant (and I'm a progessive).

This is not really a post about blue or red states, or what people think about the war. It's about the overwhelming evidence of wholesale war profiteering: regardless of whether one is pro-war, anti-war, what have you. If we can't all agree, from across the political spectrum, that something stinks here, we're screwed.

Every time the question of the costs of our military advernturism come up, people react politically, but I was hoping to approach this thing pragmatically for a change. No one is denying that it costs money to run a military and run a war, but we're not talking about basic costs here: we're talking about rampant, unchecked fraud and corruption over several years now, i.e. the purposeful misallocation of funds, the absence of any oversight, and the disaster of giving for-profit contractors free reign in "rebuilding" and "securing" Iraq. The food is not the issue.
posted by ornate insect at 12:26 PM on May 23, 2008


ZenMasterThis writes "War government is a mechanism for transferring money from taxpayers to weapons manufacturers thieves, bullies, and busybodies of all stripes."

Well in all fairness, it's nice having roads. Yes, here in California they're pretty horribly maintained, but I don't even want to imagine what they'd be like if nobody was funding their upkeep.
posted by mullingitover at 12:26 PM on May 23, 2008


kittens and catnip stuffed down their pants

Point of clarification: have the kittens been...you know...
posted by cortex at 12:27 PM on May 23, 2008


ornate insectPoster writes "we're talking about rampant, unchecked fraud and corruption over several years now, i.e. the purposeful misallocation of funds, the absence of any oversight"

All this from an administration that was best pals with Enron. Shocking.
posted by mullingitover at 12:28 PM on May 23, 2008


mullingitover--I get it that we're numb and jaded to this now. But if we only discuss what shocks us in this world, or what is totally novel news-wise, it leaves us very little to discuss. Furthermore, perhaps there is cumulative value over time in bringing this stuff home and re-visiting it: it takes time for things to happen, sometime people need to be re-re-reminded before change occurs, and I still hold out some small (ever so small) modicum of hope for change.
posted by ornate insect at 12:33 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


gets kittens and catnip stuffed down their pants.

I'm curious about the downside of this.

Seriously, is it that you are hoping that the kittens playful rambunctiousness when combined with catnip would lead to scratches and the like? Because kittens are not actually all that affected by catnip, it's more of an adult cat thing.

So if you are trying to weaponize kittens, I would suggest the threat of putting kittens and puppies down someone's pants, or if catnip must be involved, make sure it's at least an adolescent feline.

Alternatively, I suppose that you could be using the pants to set a trap for a non-panted animal. You have catnipped and kittened the offender, and now they are attracting cats from all around, except that as soon as the cat gets close, the playful kitten, whilst hidden, attacks from the cover of the waistband, drawing ire and violence from the external felines, leading to injury to the person.

This is a possibility, but it seems like a long way to go for vengeance, particularly in that it's requisite that receptive cats need be nearby.

May I suggest a better all around option. In the future, instead of "gets kittens and catnip stuffed down their pants" try "gets mongoose and snakes..." here you have the obvious benefit of easily pantsable animals, who are violent enemies, and individually are more than capable of inflicting damage for whatever offense you've deemed warrants this punishment.
posted by quin at 1:15 PM on May 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don't worry. The Market will resolve this.
posted by tkchrist at 1:50 PM on May 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan provided jobs for almost two hundred thousand civilians. Less than a thousand of them are dead. One out of every two hundred contracted government employees. Not bad odds if the paycheck includes hazard pay.

I guess the 100,000 to 200,000+ Iraqi civilians—and god knows how many Afghan civilians—DEAD don't rate.

Their like worth, what, .0025th an American?
posted by tkchrist at 1:55 PM on May 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well in all fairness, it's nice having roads. Yes, here in California they're pretty horribly maintained, but I don't even want to imagine what they'd be like if nobody was funding their upkeep.

I'm all for US taxpayer-funded construction and maintenance of roads; just not in Iraq.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:08 PM on May 23, 2008


These warmongering soccer moms have recently been trying to encourage me to spend Sundays at their church
Memory, Zach. Memory.

Have you ever red All quiet on the western front?
Paul Bäumer is the narrator, and the main character of the novel, whom Remarque uses to represent his own experience in World War I. Aged only 19, Bäumer, who is an amateur writer of several poems and a play, is persuaded by his schoolmaster, Kantorek, to enlist in the German Army for World War I. He is deployed to the western front, where he experiences the devastating physical and psychological effects of intense combat, including the horrific wounding or death of his comrades and close friends. Bäumer reflects on the war as he witnesses the dehumanizing conditions of combat and the robbing of soldiers of their individuality and love of life.
People scarcely read, don't they? But they watch a lot of tv, internet. Try finding me a movie that conveys the content of that novel and that isn't an adaptation of the book itself. Now notice how frequently is broadcasted and when. Who was reached/touched by the content and realized what war is really all about? Who identified?

How many watched Full Metal Jacket and "got it" ? Could it be that the delivery platform, in quite a militaristic wording, was already preaching to the converted because it was anchored to at least a partially spent vision of the world? Or not shown frequently enough?

Why is it that vietnam vets , wwII vets didn't manage to convey the scale of the horrors of war? Could it be that one should take the other way around, which is displaying the incredibly beauty of peaceful life as opposed to pitiful misery of a grunt life, no matter how incensed and glorified they are?
posted by elpapacito at 2:32 PM on May 23, 2008


Zach, additionally I suggest the following movie
Finché c'è guerra c'è speranza by Alberto Sordi. It's a wipping criticism of these who enjoy the fruit of the war racket and conveniently turn they head the opposite way when they start being criticized for enjoying "blood money". It's even more wipping at pointing out that the scandal is quickly forgotten and life quickly returns to "normal" because it's a lot easier to remove then to face and the society in which most racketers live is a sheltered one.
posted by elpapacito at 2:37 PM on May 23, 2008


Don't worry, everyone. This is easily solved with a little retroactive immunity.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 2:47 PM on May 23, 2008




"War, Inc.": John Cusack's New Film
Pretty much an in your face satire, quite entertaining, fine subplots too when he manage to humanize britney and slap the gangsta posing bullshit all in one movie.
posted by elpapacito at 3:10 PM on May 23, 2008


Kittens and theremins!
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on May 23, 2008






My comment contribution to this post* would be a song, specifically about war profiteering, originally posted to MetaFilter Music in February of 2007:

Undefined.

Another of my songs there, New Orleans 2005, in the last verse, specifically addresses this matter of how money spent in the Iraq war should've gone somewhere else, a little closer to home.

*And a fine post it is, ornate insect, inspired by, I'd imagine, your earlier frustration with the deleting of fff's post. THIS is how you do it! Kudos.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:33 PM on May 23, 2008




















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