Inexplicable Enrichment Of
By Evelyn Pringle
20 April, 2007
time for Americans to face the cold hard truth that nothing will be
accomplished by allowing the daily carnage in Iraq to continue, and
if Bush has his way, our young people will be dying in this war profiteering
scheme until hell freezes over. Congress needs to authorize funding
to pull our troops out of that deathtrap and not one dime more.
It apparent that Bush is
a madman who will listen to no one. After Bush's speech on January 10,
2007, about the plan to send more troops, retired Army Col Doug McGreggor,
a former advisor to Don Rumsfeld in 2003, said in a broadcast interview,
"There seems to be a complete failure to understand that we have
been trying to suppress a rebellion against our occupation."
"As long as we are there,"
he warned, "we are the number one public enemy for the Muslim-Arab
"We were after all,"
he points out, "a Christian army occupying a Muslim Arab country,
something which in the Middle East, is essentially a disaster."
This decorated combat veteran
says Bush's strategy will never work. "We did not go to Iraq originally,"
he explains, "to dismantle the state, dismantle the army, the police,
and the government, to occupy the place with the object of changing
the people that lived there into something they did not want to become."
After Bush's speech, military
families also spoke out publicly against the decision to send more troops.
"I don't have words for it," said Nancy Lessin, of Military
Families Speak Out, a group of 3,100 families, including 100 who have
lost a loved one in the war.
"This is a war,"
she said, "that should never have happened, that has wreaked so
much havoc on our loved ones, Iraqi children, women and men, and now
to be facing, almost four years into it, this news of an escalation
of the war, is just unbearable."
An Associated Press-Ipsos
poll showed that 70% of Americans opposed sending more troops, but Bush
went right ahead and did it anyways. And then to make matters worse,
this month he announces the plan to extend the 12-month tours to 15-months
to allow his 30,000-troop buildup in Baghdad to stay for another year.
This war is going to bankrupt
the US. A January 2007 study by Columbia University economist Joseph
Stiglitz, who won a Nobel Prize in economics in 2001, and Harvard lecturer
Linda Bilmes, estimated that the total costs of the Iraq war could be
more than $2 trillion when the long-term medical costs for the soldiers
injured so far are factored in.
The only people who are benefiting
from Bush's war on terror are members of the Military Industrial Complex.
Since 9/11, the pay for the CEOs of the top 34 defense contractors in
the US has doubled, according to the August 2006 report, "Executive
Excess 2006," by the Institute for Policy Studies, and the United
for a Fair Economy.
The bill is rising so fast
because the level of war profiteering is unprecedented. The Excess Report
lists George David, CEO of United Technologies, as the top earner, making
more than $200 million since 9/11, despite investigations into the poor
quality of the firm's Black Hawk helicopters.
Halliburton CEO David Lesar
made $26.6 million in 2005, and nearly $50 million since 9/11, an amount
that even beats the $24 million that Dick Cheney received in exchange
for the guarantee that Halliburton would be the number one military
contractor during the Bush administration.
Cheney himself is also taking
in war profits, contrary to what he told Tim Russert on "Meet the
Press" in 2003, when he denied making any money off his former
employer. "Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice
president," he said, "I've severed all my ties with the company,
gotten rid of all my financial interest."
"I have no financial
interest in Halliburton," Cheney told Tim, "of any kind and
haven't had, now, for over three years."
Those statements were proven
false when financial disclosure forms showed that Cheney had received
a deferred salary from Halliburton of $205,298 in 2001, $262,392 in
2002, $278,437 in 2003, and $294,852 in 2004.
In 2005, an analysis released
by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), reported that Cheney continued to
hold over 300,000 Halliburton stock options and said their value had
risen 3,281% over the previous year, from $241,498 to more than $8 million.
"It is unseemly for
the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same
time his Administration funnels billions of dollars to it," Senator
Cheney may be the most visible
profiteer to those who find it difficult to follow the war on terror
money trail, but many other members of the administration with insider
knowledge set themselves up to profit early on as well.
For instance, there was the
Undersecretary of Defense, Doug Feith, largely credited for fabricating
the tales that got the US into the war to begin with, along with his
fellow neocons and best buddy, Ahmed Chalabi.
Feith was a partner with
Marc Zell, in the Feith & Zell, DC law firm before joining the administration.
After he left for the White House, Zell renamed the firm, Zell, Goldberg
& Co, and teamed up with Salem Chalabi, Ahmed nephew, to solicit
contracts for clients in Iraq. This scam operated under the name, "Iraqi
International Law Group."
At the time, the National
Journal quoted Salem as saying that Marc Zell was the firm's "marketing
consultant" and had been contacting law firms in Washington and
New York to ask if they had clients interested in doing business in
According to its web site
back then, the IILG was made up of lawyers and businessmen who "dared
to take the lead in bringing private sector investment and experience"
to the war-torn country and offered to "be your Professional Gateway
to the New Iraq."
"The simple fact is,"
the site stated, "you cannot adequately advise about Iraq unless
you are here day in and day out, working closely with officials at the
CPA, the newly constituted governing council and the few functioning
civilian ministries [oil, labor and social welfare, etc]."
It is highly likely that
the preceding statement was absolutely true when made because Feith
helped set up the Coalition Provisional Authority in May 2003, with
its leader Paul Bremer, and Feith's office and the CPA were in charge
of awarding reconstruction contracts with Iraqi money.
For his part, Salem was a
legal adviser to Iraq's governing council, of which his Uncle was a
member, and Bremer even tried to appoint him to lead the tribunal that
would try Saddam.
Uncle Chabali footprints
in the profiteering racket can be traced back to September 2003, when
the CPA awarded an $80 million contract to Nour USA, a company with
ties to Winston Partners, which is a whole other story in itself because
Winston Partners is headed by none other than Marvin Bush, the brother
to the president.
In May 2003, Nour was founded
by, Abul Huda Farouki, whose financial ties to Ahmed Chalabi date back
to 1989, when Chalabi was CEO of the Petra Bank, and helped Farouqi
finance projects around the world.
Nour's website at the time
described the firm as an "international investment and development
company" with more than 100 employees based in Iraq, and listed
expertise in telecommunications, agribusiness, internet development,
recruitment, construction materials, oil and power services, pharmaceuticals
and fashion apparel.
In January 2004, Nour picked
up another contract to equip the Iraqi armed forces and police worth
$327 million. However, shortly thereafter, Nour came under fire when
a shady deal surfaced involving the first $80 million contract and Ahmed
Newsday reported that Chalabi
had received $2 million for helping to arrange the contract, but as
it turned out, the contract was actually awarded to Erinys International,
a firm set up in Iraq immediately after the invasion. The problem arose,
Newsday said, because within days of receiving the contract, Erinys
became a joint venture operation with Nour.
Next, the $327 million contract
was in jeopardy after it was revealed that Nour had no experience providing
military equipment and Nour claimed that it planned to subcontract its
weapons procurement to Ostrowski Arms. However, the army soon learned
that Ostowski had no license to export weapons.
The contract was finally
axed in March 2004, after six of the 17 firms that bid on it complained
that Nour's winning bid was impossibly low.
Following the money trail
on this insider deal turned up the names of a few more suspects. According
to the National Journal, a Nour executive said the Cohen Group "introduced
us to people in the U.S. government who were involved in oil-industry
Former Republican Congressman
and Secretary of Defense under President Clinton, William Cohen, sits
at the helm of the Cohen Group, and according to a report by David Hilzenrath
in the Washington Post on May 28, 2006, when he left office in January
2001, Cohen was saddled with debt and his final financial disclosure
form, "listed tens of thousands of dollars of charge-account debts
at interest rates as high as about 25 percent."
However, within a matter
of weeks Cohen and his wife were residing in a $3.5 million mansion.
It seems Cohen had wanted this house but was still in office and had
no way to finance the purchase, so Frank Zarb, then chairman of the
Nasdaq Stock Market, sold the house to Michael Ansari, chairman and
CEO of defense contractor MIC Industries, in October 2000, and the Cohen
took up residence in January or February of 2001, according to the Post.
From there, Cohen went on
to join the board and audit committee of the Nasdaq Stock Market, and
11 days after he left office, MIC announced Cohen's appointment as chairman
of its board of advisers in a press release.
In no time at all the Cohen
Group was raking in mega-bucks. In applying for one contract, that earned
the Group $490,000 over seven months, the firm bragged that it had helped
Lockheed win a $3.6 billion contract for the sale of F-16 fighter jets
to Poland, financed by the US government.
The Group's proposal said
its efforts for the Lockheed deal included "advocacy with key decision-makers
in the White House, Office of the Vice President, National Security
Council, Department of Defense and the State Department during an 18-month
campaign," according to the Post.
In regard to helping Nour
get contracts in Iraq, according to the Post, where the government disclosure
form for Nour asks the firm to identify "Specific lobbying issues,"
the Group's filings say: "Exploring overseas business opportunities."
When it comes to war profiteering,
members of the Bush administration have given a whole new meaning to
the "revolving door." A whole gang of thugs has been robbing
us blind in Iraq since day one and nobody seems to be able to stop it.
Congress knows what's going
on. Back on September 30, 2003, during the Senate debate over the first
Iraq spending bill, Senator John Edwards said he refused to funnel the
$87 billion to Cheney and other Bush cronies after learning that Bush's
former campaign manager, Joe Allbaugh, who was later appointed to head
FEMA, had quit his job 3 weeks before the bombs began to fall in Iraq
to start the consulting firm, New Bridge Strategies, for clients seeking
contracts in Iraq.
"First, Vice President
Cheney's Halliburton receives more than $2 billion in Iraq reconstruction
contracts," he said, "and now this."
He called it outrageous and
disrespectful to the young people serving in Iraq. "President Bush
should start addressing this credibility gap by calling on Joe Allbaugh
and his friends to stop using their influence to secure government contracts
in Iraq," he said.
Senator Edwards said there
used to be talk about money for Iraq being a blank check but we now
"know the president is writing it out to Joe Allbaugh and Halliburton
and it's all endorsed by Vice President Cheney," he said.
In hindsight, Edwards should
have expressed outrage at a few more people because the profiteering
team at New Bridges was stacked with Republicans. The company's address
was the same as a lobbying firm run by Haley Barbour, a former chairman
of the Republican National Committee that went under the name of Barbour
Griffith & Rogers.
And as luck would have it,
Lanny Griffith was the CEO of New Bridge, and Ed Rogers was the vice
The firm's initial web site
told potential clients, "the opportunities evolving in Iraq today
are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing
firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in
Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq."
And these greedy thugs were
so shameless that they didn't even try to hide their elation over all
the money they planned to make in Iraq. "Getting the rights to
distribute Procter & Gamble products can be a gold mine," one
of the firm's partners told Naomi Klein, quoted in an article in Harper's
Magazine in September 2004.
"One well-stocked 7-Eleven,"
the partner said, "could knock out thirty Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart
could take over the country."
There were rumors that a
McDonald's might open, a Starwood hotel was mentioned, and General Motors
was said to be planning a factory and according to Ms Klein, Citigroup
was preparing to offer loans guaranteed against future sales of Iraqi
However since the war never
did end, in 2004, Joe Allbaugh abandoned the quest for reconstruction
gold mine in Iraq and started a consulting firm with the former director
of Cheney's secret energy task force, Andrew Lundquist, and their first
client was Lockheed Martin.
The marriage between the
ex-campaign manager, Cheney's buddy, and Lockheed apparently worked
out much better than the plan to build 7-Elevens in Iraq, because Lockheed
stock value has doubled since 2001, and according to the Excess Report,
the firm's CEO has made $50 million since 9/11.
It may well have been that
Joe's new firm was simply an outgrowth from the many other firms set
up by this same gang because Haley Barbour had already worked as a lobbyist
for a Lockheed.
On thing is certain, Lockheed
was not lacking for administration insiders when Allbaugh came knocking.
For instance, before Cheney took over as VP, his wife, Lynne served
on the board of Lockheed, receiving deferred compensation to the tune
of half a million dollars in stock and fees, according to a January
16, 2007 report by Richard Cummings.
Cummings notes that Cheney's
"2004 financial disclosure statement lists Lockheed stock options
and $50,000 in Lockheed stock."
In addition, Cheney's son-in-law,
Philip Perry, Cummings says, was appointed to serve as general counsel
to the Department of Homeland Security, and he had been a registered
lobbyist for Lockheed who had worked for a law firm representing Lockheed
with the Department of Homeland Security.
According to Cummings, less
than a month after 9/11, in October of 2001, the Pentagon announced
a $20 billion contract for Lockheed for the development of the Joint
Strike Fighter, called the F-35. At the time, Edward Aldridge was Undersecretary
of Defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics, which was responsible
for the approval of the contract. Aldridge left his government post
in 2003, and he now just happens to serve on Lockheed's board of directors.
However, the most stunning
revelation in the Cummings report, is that in November 2002, Stephen
Hadley, deputy national security advisor at the time, called Lockheed
employee, Bruce Jackson, to a meeting at the White House and told him
that the US was definitely going to war in Iraq but there was one small
hitch, the administration could not decide what reason to use to justify
So Jackson formed the "Committee
for the Liberation of Iraq," and its mission statement said it
was "formed to promote regional peace, political freedom and international
security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government
that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten
the community of nations."
According to Cummings, the
"pressure group began pushing for regime change - that is, military
action to remove Hussein - in the usual Washington ways, lobbying members
of congress, working with the media and throwing money around."
Jackson told Cummings that
he did not see the point of going on about WMDs or an Al Queda link
because he thought the human rights issue was enough to justify the
However, Hadley did not agree.
"The committee's pitch," Cummings says, "or rationale
as Hadley would call it, was that Saddam was a monster -- routinely
violating human rights -- and a general menace in the Middle East."
Jackson said he closed down
the Committee in June 2003 because its human rights rationale had been
abandoned. "We were cut out," he told Cummings, "after
the whole thing went to Rumsfeld," and Hadley explained that "terrorism
and WMDs" were now the rationale for the war, not human rights.
However, Cummings reports
that members of the war sales team that served with Jackson have done
well for themselves. The president of the Committee, Randy Scheunemann,
became the president of the Mercury Group, and lobbied for Lockheed
and others, and then set up the firms, Scheunemann and Associates, and
Orion Strategies, which, among other things, consults with companies
and countries looking to do business in Iraq.
In November 2003, another
Committee member, Rend Al-Rahim Francke, was appointed Iraqi ambassador
to the US.
Meanwhile back in Iraq goldmine,
the Iraqis have nothing to show for all the torture that they have endured
for the past 4 years. On average, Iraqis still get only about two hours
of electricity a day, and the situation won't be improving anytime soon
because the US has not built a single major power plant.
And despite the $22 billion
funneled to the war profiteers for reconstruction, a US official recently
said, Baghdad may not have continuous 24-hour electricity until the
For the people drawn to Iraq
to fight against the occupation, this is not a war against Americans;
it's a war against Bush. He tore this country apart for no reason and
then just as the Iraqis predicted, the greedy gang of thugs swooped
in and ripped everybody off.
And there is no reason to
believe that the thievery has ended or the situation in Iraq will get
better because an audit released on January 31, 2007, by Inspector General,
Stuart Bowen, reported that the $300 billion war and reconstruction
effort continues to be plagued with waste and corruption, and yet Bush
now wants us to hand over another $100 billion to be funneled through
Iraq to the exact same gangsters.
We will never win in Iraq
no matter how long we stay because the other side will always have more
people willing to die for the cause, and it doesn't take a genius to
figure out that if the number of daily attacks continues to escalate
as they have for the last 4 years, the US will run out of troops before
Evelyn Pringle can
be reached at: evelyn- firstname.lastname@example.org
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