It�s time for Americans to face the hard cold 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 is apparent that Bush is a madman who will listen to no one. After
Bush�s speech on January 10, 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 world.�
�We were after all,� he points out, �a Christian army occupying a
Muslim Arab country, something which in the Middle East is essentially a
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
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 percent of Americans
opposed sending more troops, but Bush went right ahead and did it anyway. And
then to make matters worse, this month he announced 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
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
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 percent 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 Lautenberg said.
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
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�s 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
According to its website 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,
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�s 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 worth $327 million to
equip the Iraqi armed forces and police. However, shortly thereafter, Nour came
under fire when a shady deal surfaced involving the first $80 million contract
and Ahmed Chalabi.
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 security.�
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 Cohens 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, which 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
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
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 three 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.�
In hindsight, Edwards should have expressed outrage at a few more
people because the profiteering team at New Bridge 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 president.
The firm�s initial website 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 by future sales
of Iraqi oil.
However since the war didn�t 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 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 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 it.
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
WMD or an Al-Qaeda link because he thought the human rights issue was enough to
justify the war.
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 WMD� 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 the Iraq goldmine, the Iraqis have nothing to show
for all the torture that they have endured for the past four 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
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 year 2013.
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 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 four years, the US will run out of troops
before they do.
Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for
OpEd News and an investigative journalist focusing on exposing corruption in
government and corporate America.. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.