Friday, December 16, 2005
The emperor's fig leaves
Charles Babcock's story on the arrest of a female reservist charged with bid rigging in Iraq brought this to mind. The story almost fell off the back end of the Washington Post. A second reserve lieutenant colonel was arrested yesterday for participating in "a conspiracy to rig bids on Iraq reconstruction contracts." For her efforts Debra Harrison received two .45-caliber pistols, a Cadillac and an $80,000+ deck with hot tub. The American contractor in the case, Philip Bloom, was based in Romania. And the total of the contracts for which Bloom is alleged to have paid bribes comes to a mere $3.5 million.
What a contrast with the situation of Halliburton and their subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR)! One thing's for sure: They'll never be indicted for bid-rigging because they didn't bid for their contracts in the first place. And those were multibillion-dollar contracts.
The government is now going after bid-rigging involving $3.5 million when KBR managed to "lose" $18 million of equipment alone? When massive overcharges by KBR were alleged, not only was no criminal investigation begun but the Pentagon resumed full payment on KBR contracts even though it was entitled by law to withhold 15% while the dispute was negotiated. So I can only regard the investigation into this piddling Romanian contract as the fig leaf that attempts to hide the Halliburton cojones and a very big prick in the Pentagon.
Now that Bush (that's Dick Cheney/Donald Rumsfeld) has finally acquiesced to Senator McCain's demand for a law outlawing the use of torture any time, anywhere against anyone, we're reminded that the fig leaf hiding the Iraqi contract scandal lies atop another that hides administration responsibility for the torture of detainees. The administration hopes that the arrest of small fry such as Debra Harrison and Lyndie England will cover their immodesty.
Halliburton back on the gravy train (8/18/04)
Halliburton losing its ass—Oh sorry, that was our ass (11/27/04)
The Iraqi "ghost army" (7/15/05)