President Bush speaks at United Defense - a company which got federal contracts from his administration at a time when it was owned by the Carlyle Group
What’s more these companies are mostly companies with very very close links to the current US administration. Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg,Brown and Root (KBR) are the most infamous examples. They have been granted fixed contracts on which no other companies were allowed to bid. It’s former (and probably future) Chief Executive is US Vice President Dick Cheney who has continued to receive payments of around $150,000 a year (much more in some years)from the firm while in office and still has over 400,000 stock options in Halliburton in “a charitable fund” (awaiting his retirement from government maybe?). It’s own employees and congressional investigations have found that Halliburton has been grossly overcharging for its services to the US army in Iraq – and military officers wanted an inquiry. It’s one example among many of companies linked to members of the current administration or who donated heavily to the Republican party’s election campaigns which now have federal ‘reconstruction’ (not much of that happening in Iraq) or military supply contracts many of which they have overcharged on according to investigations by the Center for Public Integrity.
Then there are the ‘security’ companies who got $30bn of the first $87bn allocated to ‘the war on terror’ by Bush in 2003. One example is Dyncorp – which donated heavily to Republican election campaigns. Dyncorp has US federal government contracts for security and training armed police in Iraq and in Afghanistan and was called in for ‘security’ and “reconstruction” in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina like many of the firms given similar contracts in Iraq.
The Iraqi and Afghan police and soldiers trained by Dyncorp get paid around $60 a month – a tiny fraction of the wages of Dyncorp’s western employees and managers and far less than the Taliban and Iraqi militias involved in kidnapping pay in countries suffering poverty and mass unemployment. No wonder the Taliban and the militias get far more recruits.
One small example is that Dyncorp got over $43 million to build a police training facility complete with Olympic size swimming pool in Baghdad which is completely empty. Huge sums of US and Iraqi taxpayers’ money is simply ‘unaccounted for’.
The company’s illustrious history includes firing an employee who revealed that other Dyncorp employees were using children as forced prostitutes when on contract from the Pentagon in Bosnia ; shooting down a civilian plane carrying US citizens (but no drugs) in anti-narcotics operations Peru and causing illnesses and death by spraying toxic chemicals from the air in counter-narcotics operations in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. Some of its own employees were also accused of smuggling heroin from Colombia on plane flights into the US. The US government allowed the firm to investigate these allegations itself. It unsurprisingly decided they weren’t true.
Another is Blackwater Security. Four employees of Blackwater were notoriously brutally murdered in Fallujah in March 2004 but they were reported as being ‘civilians’ – they were in fact armed, employed indirectly by the Pentagon through a contract with Blackwater and the company's employees are mostly ex-intelligence or military special forces. Their deaths also followed a conflict which began with US troops opening fire on what seem to have been unarmed demonstrators in Fallujah shortly after the invasion – and the entire system of torture which was briefly acknowledged as if it was an isolated example in the Abu Ghraib scandal. This does not excuse the murder of these four people but it is a more honest account of it. Blackwater also got a security contract in New Orleans.
Then there are CACI and Titan whose .employees were involved as “interrogators” and translators in the torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere (and quite possibly still are since Vice-President Cheney said they had done a ‘helluva good job’ after the scandal broke , CACI had its contract in Iraq renewed and Titan got a new contract ). The famous investigative journalist Seymour Hersh (who reported on the My Lai massacre in Vietnam) reports that such ‘private contractors’ hired by the Pentagon have been involved in torture in Iraq along with the CIA far beyond what came out in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
In 1997 USF&G – a ‘public relations’ firm bought stock in Titan. One of USF&G’s directors was former CIA director James Woolsey – the same man who flew to Europeto persuade people to back war on Iraq after September 11th and falsely claimed Iraq was probably behind the anthrax attacks and also that Iraq was a ‘state sponsor’of Bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. So he owns stock in Titan – and as a former director of Dyncorp and British Aerospace probably in those firms too – and profits personally from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Creating fears of further “terrorist” anthrax attacks can’t have hurt business for Paladin – a Homeland security firm based in the US which Woolsey is also a director of. The company saw the war on terror as “a business opportunity” and got US government contracts worth $680 million in 2002 alone.
Former CIA director Robert James Woolsey is a director of Paladin Security - which profited from the war on terror and his own claims that Iraq was behind the anthrax attacks
On taking office Bush rapidly appointed former arms company executives from Northrop-Grumman and Lockheed-Martin (among others) to Pentagon positions where they would be deciding on what arms to buy with public money from what firms. They have kindly reciprocated by continuing to donate heavily to his election campaigns (with the usual side-bet on the Democrats just in case) – a worthwhile investment since under Bush US defence spending has more than trebled.
This is not to mention the Carlyle Group which invests heavily in arms companies and has employed members of many former US administrations – especially those of Reagan and Bush senior such as Frank Carlucci (Reagan’s Defense Secretary) and James Baker (head of the supposedly ‘moderate’ and ‘dovish’ Iraq Study Group appointed by President Bush) not to mention ex President George H W Bush who was employed by its Caterair subsidiary. Investors include the Bush family, Baker and, until after 9-11, the Bin Laden family (yes – relations of Osama) .
Several congressmen who pushed for the Pentagon to buy the (often impractical) products of a firm called United Defense (owned by Carlyle) also got donations from a fund paid into by United Defense. The man who decided to buy UD’s useless ‘Crusader’ heavy artillery was the President – a former employee of a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group, which also donated to his election campaign
How do heavy artillery (especially artillery too heavy to move) help stop terrorist attacks in the US or UK? They fairly obviously don’t – but by presenting war and increased military budgets a response to terrorism it’s easier to avoid tricky questions on why you just handed billions of taxpayers’ money to firms you have connections to without getting anything useful in return
Then there are the profits going to oil companies like Exxon (Condoleeza Rice was on their board of directors before joining Bush Presidencies Inc.). War or the threat of more wars in the Middle East always puts up the price of oil – and so the profits of oil companies. Similarly by stopping Iraqi oil going onto the international market the current war restricts supply relative to demand and maximises prices – which wouldn’t have happened if , for instance, the UN had lifted or loosened its sanctions on Iraq without any war.
British firms get the next largest share of the spoils of war - mostly sub-contracts from US firms but some directly from the British government or linked to MPs. The Guardian reported “The annual revenue of private UK security firms soared from £320m in 2003 to more than £1.8bn in 2004 due to Iraqi contracts.”
The paper reported that former conservative cabinet minister Nicholas Soames MP is a director of Aegis security. Malcolm Rifkind MP is a director of ArmorGroup and owns shares in it. Former British generals are also on these companies’ boards. Both firms have security contracts in Iraq. Soames voted for war on Iraq in March 2003. (Rifkind publicly opposed the war but was not an MP in 2003 so we’ll never know how he would have voted.)Derek Drayson – now a Lord and a British government minister – was one beneficiary of CIA and Pentagon propaganda for the Iraq war. After the supposedly “Iraqi” anthrax attacks on Washington after September 11th he donated money to the governing Labour party. His company was then given a £32 million government contract to produce vaccines to be stored in case of anthrax attacks in the UK. These never materialised – perhaps because, as the FBI discovered, the prime suspects for the Washington anthrax attacks are members of the Pentagon’s USAMRID unit or the CIA. While the government could apparently afford millions for Drayson’s company to protect us against a fake threat Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson and Blair decided they now wouldn’t provide British troops in Iraq with properly armoured vehicles for 3 years of war – resulting in the death of many British troops including Gordon Gentle.
With all this money to being made from the continuing presence of US and British troops in Iraq the Bush administration has little motive to bring the conflict to an end. The “war on terror” is a money spinner even if it does cost lives without saving any and create more terrorists than it kills. It costs taxpayers in the US and UK a fortune - but most of that ends up as profits for the Bush administration's corporate friends. The longer the violence continues the more US (and British and Iraqi) taxpayers’ money goes to Bush’s corporate friends. This year Bush is asking congress to provide an extra $99bn for them in Iraq and Afghanistan.
copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2007
El Salvador in Iraq : Many members of the Bush administration have a long history of organising torture and death squads - they're doing it again in Iraq
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