I think we can all agree that this is bad.
February 21, 2008 10:48 PM   Subscribe

Im sure any and all corruption will be fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by the Bush league Justice Department.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:56 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know how this could have happened with the institution of the excess profit tax, which is common in wartime to prevent profiteering.

What, we neglected to institute that tax?

posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

A common thread runs through these cases and other KBR scandals in Iraq, from allegations the firm failed to protect employees sexually assaulted by co-workers to findings that it charged $45 per can of soda: The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Pentagon is the largest money-laundering organization in human history.

It would be too obvious for Senators and Congressmen to just bolt out the door with suitcases full of money, so instead they send money (hundreds of billions of dollars -- half a trillion dollars this year alone) to the Pentagon. The Pentagon buys $45 cans of Dr. Pepper, $500 pencils, $8,000 toilet seats and so on. The difference between the actual and inflated price is then quietly scooped up by the contractors, who just happen to be best friends with the Congressmen who approved the spending in the first place.

Let's not even mention projects like the V-22 Osprey, a machine which arguably doesn't even work but we somehow still manage to spend ~50 billion dollars to build the damn thing. Yeah, it's just a stunning coincidence that it happens to be manufactured in critical congressional districts.

In modern America, war is just another way for elected officials to bring home the bacon. War is a money-making opportunity not just for the arms profiteers, but for the officials that the profiteers spend into office. As far as I'm concerned, America is already a fully-functioning kleptocracy. The fact that Supreme Leader isn't ripping the copper wires out of our homes to sell on the black market only means that it isn't profitable enough -- yet.
posted by Avenger at 11:32 PM on February 21, 2008 [8 favorites]

this is my surprised face... not wait here it is... oh damn is this the one... mutter mutter. That's right I threw it out, I am frankly no longer surprised by anyhting. They could announce tomorrow that Saddam was still alive, they really killed his beneficent twin brother, and I think I still wouldn't be surprised.
posted by edgeways at 11:43 PM on February 21, 2008

How is this not treason?
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:48 PM on February 21, 2008

America: love it or leave it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:55 PM on February 21, 2008

Eisenhower nailed it.

Why we fight.
posted by lalochezia at 12:08 AM on February 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

its interesting that the article posits they are cheating the US, (not the Iraqi people who presumably are supposed to be the true beneficiaries of this 'aid')
posted by mary8nne at 12:12 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

America: love it or leave it.

Well that would be a reasonable sentiment if it we lived in a world of free movement of Labour (as well as so called 'free trade') but no... emmigration is not exactly straightforward. Where exactly would you be free to leave to?
posted by mary8nne at 12:19 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

America: you can't beat 'em, and you can't join 'em.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:56 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

The system of blowing stuff up and then hiring some american firm to rebuild it is an institutionalised form of fleecing that far exceeds in scale the isolated examples mentioned here by a factor of literally millions. I could care less if someone has been accused of charging too much for a can of pop. The whole system is inherently flawed and always will be until we re-evaluate the true motivations for waging a war like this.
posted by Sir Mildred Pierce at 1:44 AM on February 22, 2008

America: you can't beat 'em, and you can't join 'em.

I always preferred George Carlin's dictum: if you can't beat 'em, arrange to have 'em beaten.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:44 AM on February 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

This is all okay. Our children have promised to pick up the tab.
posted by srboisvert at 3:07 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is 5:50 a.m. too early to start drinking? That is my new solution for everything.
posted by nax at 3:55 AM on February 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

How is this not treason?

None Dare Call it Treason
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:29 AM on February 22, 2008

The Pentagon buys $45 cans of Dr. Pepper, $500 pencils, $8,000 toilet seats and so on.

Not that the Pentagon doesn't waste vast amounts of money, but there's more to this story than is commonly reported.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:25 AM on February 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

This administration is going to go down in history, along with the mainstream media, for double non-unspeak. The president talks about small government--but then allows creation of ancillary/de facto branches of the government that have no government oversight.

What is absolutely crazy to me, is that not only have the republicans drained our treasury but they are scrambling to create "treaties" with Iraq and Afghanistan that will last beyond this failed president. The bases that they are creating will need support--who better than KBR to provide it? McCain's "100 years" comment makes every defense contractor drool.

Sadly, I don't think that any Democrat will go after the graft and corruption, even after Bush leaves office.
posted by zerobyproxy at 5:40 AM on February 22, 2008

On the one hand, it's very clear that a great deal of fraud, waste and abuse went on in the first years of the occupation, due to a willful and systematic lack of oversight.

On the other, I considered it a minor miracle that I had reasonably fresh vegetables about %40 of the time in a mess hall on the outskirts of Baghdad, thanks to KBR. That broccoli had a long and expensive logistical tail attached to it, having flown from California to a war zone on the other side of the world. I'll bet that if you calculated the per-unit cost, it would be somewhere in the vicinity of $45 / head.

And goddamn if it didn't taste good.

We could have done without little luxuries like that, especially since few others in Baghdad had them. But given that the average tour of duty is twice as long as it used to be, I'd say it's the least the government could do, given what it was asking of its soldiers and marines.

screw those jerks in the green zone though. decent food is one thing, a white-gloved Filipino in a toque serving you ginger creme brulee with raspberry coulis from the dessert cart while mortars explode outside is a whole new level of ridiculous.
posted by xthlc at 5:58 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

The fact that nobody cares about this or does anything about it is part of why the US is so dangerous: there are no limits or oversight on your actions, external or internal. Of any kind.
In any country with rule of law, this kind of scam would not stand.
posted by signal at 6:12 AM on February 22, 2008

Avenger writes "As far as I'm concerned, America is already a fully-functioning kleptocracy."

Welcome to Italy, no not little italy, the real deal ! For some reason tho, I have this sensation that without social security and with privatized healthcare you are in for a treatement that can be worse then ours.

WAR is A RACKET , said Major General Smedley D. Butler - USMC. I'll add that war is THE racket as there is

1. little or no accountability
2. irrecoverable waste of time, resources, capital
3. glorification and idealization of nationalism ; jingoism.
4. death of hundreds thousand

Enron couldn't do that much damage, even if they did a quite some.
posted by elpapacito at 7:26 AM on February 22, 2008

It's not bad enough they stole our money by the billions. Oh no. They stole our money by the billions to kill a few hundred thousand innocent people in a country that never seriously threatened, never actually attacked us.

And people wonder why I'm pissed.
posted by LordSludge at 7:50 AM on February 22, 2008

I actually wonder why people AREN'T pissed. Something tells me it has something to do with the fact that a vast majority of adults in this country start every morning by popping a mood altering drug. It's no coincidence that guys like Rumsfeld and Daniels were picked right out of the pharmaceutical industry.
posted by any major dude at 8:06 AM on February 22, 2008

There are still a lot of Americans who believe that "They attacked us first." or "Everybody thought they had WMDs, even the liberals and Germans; better safe than sorry." or "Better to fight terrorism there than here." or simply "You gotta pull for the home team." Or this gem from my own father: "At least the war gives Americans jobs." (to which I, stunned, could offer no response at all... which is probably a good thing)

But, really, it just doesn't affect Americans in their daily lives, so they simply don't care. Probably the biggest intrusion into their lives has been the increase in the price of gas -- and, hey, all the more reason to secure "our" oil supply, right? The ballooned deficit is out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Four thousand dead soldiers, well, war is hell, and that's what they signed up to do. Six hundred thousand dead Iraqis -- oh bullshit, it's more like 30,000, if that. I mean, WHERE ARE ALL THE BODIES?

No drugs needed -- just apathy, ignorance, and self-absorption.
posted by LordSludge at 8:40 AM on February 22, 2008

I think when we start over, that we should make politicians take a forced vow of poverty. I'm not sure exactly how that would work, but I like the idea that if you want the power, you can't have the money.

And profiteering will be a capital crime.
posted by quin at 10:11 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

“I always preferred George Carlin's dictum: if you can't beat 'em, arrange to have 'em beaten.”

If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics are flawed.

“Not that the Pentagon doesn't waste vast amounts of money, but there's more to this story than is commonly reported.”

Yeah. Plus they’re socking it away into R&D for when the extraterrestrials invade.

I love ol’ Smed (obviously). But actually, I’m not pissed. I’m past that. I’m scared. I used to think, and most people probably still have this rattling around in their heads, that if there’s a real emergency the government will just take shit over. Take all the resources back and re-tool the defense system for war like they did in WWII.
But I don’t know if that’s possible anymore. Looking at all the companies the fed does business with - a whole lot of those have their HQ’s in the Caymans. Maybe we could freeze their assets, something like that, but when you need something - right now - in an emergency and Ol’ Mother Courage is the only one nearby who’s got it, you’re going to pay through the nose. Once the shit is off the fan and you go looking to straighten things out, she’s already split with her cart to some other catastrophe.
The whole defense industry should be socialized and regulated up the yin yang. Much as I hate to begrudge anyone making a profit, there’s no room for it in war. You go to war because there is absolutely no other option. But a lot of people seem to think otherwise. And, typically, because it’s not their neck.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:53 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Related post (the post title should not having been profiting but profiteering).
posted by nickyskye at 3:59 PM on February 22, 2008

Is this still the tinfoil hat version of reality? (QT link still works...)
posted by sneebler at 5:42 PM on February 22, 2008

Yesterday I sat at a luncheon next to a guy who turned out to be an Iraq War vet. The degree to which the American middle and upper classes have been insulated from this war was very forcibly brought home to me when I realized that I had never met an Iraq war vet before. It has been ages since I encountered someone in armed forces uniform. During Viet Nam we all knew vets, we all knew people in the military. It was right there in our faces all the time. I still encounter Viet Nam vets all the time (because the comprise a big segment of my generation). The anti-war movement in this country can't get traction because the street ain't there, so to speak.
posted by nax at 6:30 AM on February 23, 2008

Go take a look at the reuter's photos of Bush visiting severely wounded Iraq veterans. It is currently in the bottom right corner under most popular slideshows. I can't direct link to it because Reuters appears to have adopted the web breaking javascript popup style that is so beloved of a great many photographers on the internet.
posted by srboisvert at 6:55 AM on February 23, 2008

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