The baby-oil theory ...

bitbitch at bitbitch at
Fri Apr 18 22:41:28 PDT 2003

j> NONE OF THESE hysterical predictions came true, but now I can't open a
j> bulletin from the reactionary right or the anti-war left without being
j> told that Iraq is already worse off without Saddam Hussein. And how can
j> we tell that Iraq is worse off? Because contracts for its reconstruction
j> are being awarded to American corporations. Of the three feasible
j> alternatives (that the contracts go to American capitalists, or to some
j> unspecified non-American capitalists, or that Iraqi oil production stays
j> as it was), the supposed radicals appear to prefer the last of the
j> three.

The Problem with his rather vague answer of the awards going to
'American corporations' is that he doesn't bother to explain which
corporations he means. This article at the end provides a little more
enlightenment, albiet with some biases.  But pulling out the companies
involved, I find some interesting results:

First, that there were only 7-21 (depending on your source)
companies allowed to bid.

Second, the bids were pretty much restricted to US companies due to
the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act:

A 1996 U.S. law, the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, or ILSA, threatens
sanctions on foreign companies that make $40 million or more in new
investments in Iran. These companies could be barred from U.S.-awarded
contracts in Iraq.

The law, which Bush renewed in 2001 for five years, has outraged
members of the European Union. They reject it as an illegal attempt to
impose U.S. foreign-policy goals on others.

Major corporations that have energy projects under way in Iran include
the French company TotalFinaElf, Japan's state-owned oil company and
Britain's Shell group.

Third, this was done quietly:

 USAID quietly circulated a request for proposals to a select group of
 firms at the end of January, in order to quickly line up contractors
 without making a public announcement that would disrupt diplomatic
 negotiations, spokeswoman Ellen Yount said.

 And two of our own congresscritters (Liberman and Waxman) are complaining
 that this could have been done months in advance, to allow for real
 competitive bidding, instead of bidding by selection.

 The Center for Responsive Politics has a breakdown of the finalist's
 donations to political campaigns.

 While not all corporations are as nefarious, the big and heavy
 hitters really do stand out.  Halliburton, Bechel and Stevedoring
 Services all have some pretty deep ties with the administration.  And
 they donate effectively.  This is less a case about true 'American
 Corporations' winning the contracts fairly, and more about who you
 know, how much you paid, and what quirks control the system.

1.        Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton
          (No-bid Contract worth 1-7 Billion)

          Halliburton, a Texas corporation that has been contracted to
          put out potential oil fires, still pays out to Mr. Cheney,
          their former CEO, a "deferred compensation" in upwards of $1 Million dollars.

         KBR has already benefited considerably from the "war on
         terror". It has so far been awarded contracts worth nearly
         $33m to build the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba
         for al-Qaida suspects.

         In the five years Mr Cheney was at the helm, Halliburton nearly doubled
         the amount of business it did with the government to $2.3bn. The
         company also more than doubled its political contributions to $1.2m,
         overwhelmingly to Republican candidates.

         Between 1999 and 2002, Halliburton made $709,320 in political contributions, 95 percent of the money going to the Republican Party.

         The connections between the companies invited and the
         administration run deep. Ray Hunt, a director of Halliburton,
         is on the president's intelligence advisory board. Lawrence
         Eagleburger, secretary of state under the first President
         Bush, is also a Halliburton director.

         Kenneth Oscar, the vice-president of Fluor, another of the six
         bidders, is a former army secretary and oversaw the Pentagon's $35bn
         procurement budget. Its board also includes Bobby Inman, a former CIA
         deputy director. The labour secretary, Elaine Chao, worked on the
         board of another of the six, Parsons, before joining the government.
2.       Creative Associates International ($2 Million Contract)

         Primary and Secondary Education. Creative Associates International
         Inc. awarded initial US$2 million April 11 of a one-year contract
         capped at US$62 million. Involves upgrading schools, restocking
         classrooms and training teachers.

         (Creative and RTI were the two corps I could find the least
         bit of 'dirt' on.  They donated entirely to democratic
         campaigns, and are both non-profit orgs with no direct
         (reported) connections to the Bush Administration).

3.       Research Triangle Institute ($7.9 Million)

         To create and manage local governance. Seeks to maximise Iraqi participation in all
         phases and aspects of the reconstruction as the transition to Iraqi
         administration occurs.

         The N.C. company already has more than 90 contracts with a
         wide array of U.S. government agencies -- from Homeland
         Security and the Defense Department to the Centers for
         Disease Control and Prevention. Together, those contracts
         accounted for 85 percent of RTI's $238 million in revenue
         last year.

4.        Stevedoring Services of America ($4.8 Million)

          Seattle Based Stevedoring Services of America, was awarded
          a lucrative contract to operate the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
          The right-wing firm is known for its union-busting and its
          ties to the Republican Party, which has been the recipient
          of 80 percent of SSA’s campaign contributions.

          Stevedoring Services of America
          The Contributions: $23,825 (80 percent to Republicans)
          Total to President Bush: $1,000
          The Contract: USAID awarded Stevedoring Services of America
          a $4.8 million contract on March 24 for "assessment and
          management" of the Umm Qasr port in southeastern Iraq. The
          agency says the Seattle-based company will operate the port
          as it receives shipments of humanitarian and reconstruction
          materials and will research ways to improve port
          productivity for the long term.
          The Company: Stevedoring Services of America, the largest
          marine terminal operator in the United States, made an
          estimated $1 billion in sales last year. The family-owned
          and -operated company is a private venture.
5.        Bechtel Corp.  ($680 Million)

          This San Fransisco Company, which counts former Reagan
          administration Secretary of State George Shultz and
          Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger among its principals.

           The construction contract is the largest component of a
           $1.1 billion project by the U.S. Agency for International
           Development to reconstruct Iraq. The first payment on
           Bechtel's 18-month contract will be $34.6 million, the
           agency said in a statement.

           The 105-year-old builder and its employees gave $1.3
           million in political contributions from 1999 to 2002, with
           59 percent going to Republicans, according to the Center
           for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance.
           Former Secretary of State George Schultz sits on its


           Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once lobbied for the
           company and Jack Sheehan, a Bechtel senior vice president,
           has been a member of the Defense Policy Board, which
           advises the Pentagon. Bechtel Chairman Riley Bechtel was
           appointed by Bush to the Export Council in February.


6.        International Resources Group

          The Contributions: $3,800 (82 percent to Democrats)
          Total to President Bush: $0
          The Contract: USAID awarded International Resources Group a
          $7 million, 90-day contract Feb. 21 for the management of
          relief and rebuilding efforts in postwar Iraq. IRG will
          coordinate efforts across multiple sectors, including
          education, health, agriculture, civil society and
          The Company: International Resources Group is a Washington, D.C.-based
          professional services firm that manages complex environmental, energy
          and reconstruction situations for public and private sector clients.
          Founded in 1978, IRG has completed more than 600 projects, many of
          them for USAID.


War Analysis: The destruction of Iraq is good for business
Posted on Tuesday, April 15 @ 13:00:25 GMT
Topic: New Iraq
By Kurt Nimmo

It's now obvious what the Bushites have in mind for Iraq.

Iraq is in the process of self-destruction, pushed over the edge by Bush and the neocons. They believe chaos is a form of freedom, a reaction to decades of Saddam's dictatorial rule. But this explanation is mostly for public consumption.

Bush and his architects will endeavor to build a new Iraq -- a McDonaldized Iraq ruled by westernized overlords and serviced by US corporations. This can only happen if the methodical process of destruction is allowed to unravel centuries of Iraqi culture and decades of Saddam's iron-fisted rule.

The International Committee of the Red Cross complains about the violence and unchecked looting. It cannot distribute humanitarian aid. It says US inaction to bring the chaos under control is a breach of the Geneva Convention.

Naturally, the US does not care about the Geneva Convention.

This should be obvious -- from the use of cluster bombs to the illegal detention of political prisoners at Gitmo Bay in Cuba -- Bush and the Pentagon are violating the Geneva Convention right and left and at every turn. It is absurd, almost comical, for the International Committee of the Red Cross to make these claims -- they should know by now that the US has no intention of respecting international law. Not only is the Red Cross irrelevant, but so is most of humanity. Iraq -- as Mesopotamia and the cradle of civilization -- is the poster child or irrelevancy. Soon it will serve as a role model for all Arabs.

Another incidental international organization, the United Nations, is now carping about the engineered chaos in Iraq. "The coalition forces seem to be completely unable to restrain looters or impose any sort of control on the mobs that now govern the streets," Veronique Taveau, a UN spokesman, complained to the Guardian.

Mr. Taveau, unfortunately, insists on playing by old, time-tarnished rules. He seems entirely clueless about the nature and intentions of the Bushites. It's not an inability that constrains the US forces in Iraq. No, it is something else altogether.

The Bush global engineers have issued top-down orders -- allow the Iraqis to self-destruct, do not intervene. "We saw a similar mixture in Kosovo and Sierra Leone but initial disorder does give way to stability," explained a Tony Blair sidekick. Rumsfeld was a bit more succinct. "Stuff happens," he mused. "And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."

"Freedom is a gift from the Almighty God," added Bush.

Freedom to loot, murder, and rape -- that is the gift Bush's God has bestowed upon the Iraqi people. Bush's God lives by the balance sheet and the bottom line, not compassion or even the now irrelevant articles of the Geneva Convention. Bush's God resides in the Old Testament. It gathers sustenance from destruction and genocide. It eagerly fills graveyards and coffers. It dispenses multi-billion dollar reconstruction contracts.

The US has awarded, without competition, a contract worth up to $7 billion to Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, a company run until three years ago by Dick Cheney. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans believes the US private sector should play a major role in rebuilding Iraq and develop its plentiful energy resources.

"There will be companies that have an opportunity to bid on contracts," Evans said in an interview after a luncheon speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. "The coalition countries certainly should have an opportunity to be involved in whatever rebuilding opportunities there are."

Fluor Corp. and Parini Corp. have received contracts from the Army Corps of Engineers to provide up to $100 million worth of work to the military in the region. In other words, US and British corporations will help construct bases and military installations designed to destroy a large number of dark-skinned people and various distinct cultures in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the State Department's Agency for International Development is acting as a pimp for US corporations hungry to turn a buck on the devastation of Iraq. For instance, Stevedoring Services of America and Bechtel are in the running and stand to earn billions. Both contributed to the Republicans and Bush. Bechtel is a refuge for former Reaganites and members of the Defense Policy Board where until recently Richard Perle held sway.

As for exploiting Iraq's oil -- "for the benefit of the Iraqi people" -- this would "almost invariably fall to the nation's energy capital of Houston, where President Bush has deep connections," writes Stewart Yerton of New Orleans' Times-Picayune. "Evans dismissed the idea that awarding oil contracts to Texas energy firms would create perceived conflicts of interest. 'This is an administration of total integrity,' he said. 'That's all that needs to be said.'"

It also needs to be said that the closed process of selecting corporations -- mostly kept under wraps in the name of national security -- to rebuild a methodically destroyed Iraq will result in the squandering of billions of dollars. Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar who has written a book on federal contracting, told the Chicago Tribune the "cost-plus" contracts being awarded by the Bushites could result in overstaffing and over billing. "A lot of money is going to be wasted, and a lot of money is going to be made," Singer said.

Meanwhile, the coolies who will rebuild Iraq's roads, airports, hospitals and other infrastructure -- much of it either bombed or assiduously stripped to the bone by looters -- will come from the Philippines where annual income is around $1,000 per year and unemployment is all too common. "Imported Filipino laborers and engineers, many working for less than the US minimum wage, helped build the detention center holding al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," reports the Taipei Times.

Instead of traditional United Nations peace-keeping troops invited to restore order where Bush and Crew have deliberately sowed chaos and destruction, it now appears the Reston, Virginia, rent-a-cop outfit Dyncorp will be called to "re-establish police, justice and prison functions in post conflict Iraq," according to Insight Magazine.

"We know we want something a little more corporate and more efficient with cleaner lines of authority and responsibility," a Pentagon official told the New York Times.

As Pratap Chatterjee of GNN writes, "[a]rmed DynCorp employees make up the core of the police force in Bosnia. DynCorp troops protect Afghan president Hamid Karzai, while DynCorp planes and pilots fly the defoliation missions over the coca crops in Colombia." As for allegations that Dyncorp was involved in a sex-slavery scandal in Bosnia -- and accused of spraying Ecuadorian peasants with deadly herbicides -- well, that's the cost of doing business in the Third World.

Stuff, after all, happens.

In fact, it would seem the Bushites "want something a little more corporate and more efficient with cleaner lines of authority and responsibility" across the Middle East, beginning with Iraq and -- if threats issued by Rumsfeld last week are to be taken seriously -- moving eventually to Syria. The neocons make no bones about their pathological desire to attack and "regime change" Syria, Iran, Libya, North Korea, possibly Saudi Arabia, and even Cuba. That's a whole lot of infrastructure that will need to be rebuilt in the smoldering wake of cruise missiles, JDAMs, bunker-busters, and MOABs.

But it's not simply food warehouses, electrical grids, hospitals, and hardware stores ransacked and burned to the ground. It's history itself. "They lie across the floor in tens of thousands of pieces, the priceless antiquities of Iraq's history," writes Robert Fisk. "The looters had gone from shelf to shelf, systematically pulling down the statues and pots and amphorae of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, the Sumerians, the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks and hurling them on to the concrete."

Instead of history and culture, Iraq will burgeon with strip malls and sweatshops. Its oil and minerals will go to the powerful corporate interests represented by George Bush and Dick Cheney. In due time Syria and Iran will be subject to the same process and the freedom of Bush's corporate God will eventually ring out in those benighted lands as well.

If not the sound of freedom, it will be the sound of a million cash registers instead.

Kurt Nimmo's Another Day in the Empire

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