Monday, January 29, 2007

Far Too Little, Far Too Late

And now, in "Fox To Guard Henhouse" news, we have this doozy:

Army Probes War Contractor Fraud
By John Heilprin
The Associated Press
Saturday 27 January 2007

From high-dollar fraud to conspiracy to bribery and bid rigging, Army investigators have opened up to 50 criminal probes involving battlefield contractors in the war in Iraq and the U.S. fight against terrorism, The Associated Press has learned.
Really? 50? $750 Billion in a pointless, never-ending, waste-filled war and they've uncovered a whopping 50 prosecutions? Wow, how DOES the Pentagon do it? It's like living in a town with Matlock AND Jessica from Murder She Wrote.
Senior contracting officials, government employees, residents of other countries and, in some cases, U.S. military personnel have been implicated in millions of dollars of fraud allegations.
But... our troops... must blindly support all troops... militarized population conditioned to support all troops, does not compute... does not compute... Oh, what's that? A "Few Bad Apples?" Oh, okay, then.
"All of these involve operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait," Chris Grey, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, confirmed Saturday to the AP. "CID agents will pursue leads and the truth wherever it may take us," Grey said. "We take this very seriously."
Really? Even into the Vice President's office and Halliburton's corporate offices in the Cayman Islands? Who's fooling whom, here? Maybe the AP laps up your bullshit, but no one else is.
Battlefield contractors have been implicated in allegations of fraud and abuse since the war in Iraq began in spring 2003. A special inspector general office that focused solely on reconstruction spending in Iraq developed cases that led to four criminal convictions.
Really? $18,000,000,000 in reconstruction funds TOTALLY WASTED and all you could find was four fucking cases? WOW! Move over C.S.I., the crack financial forensics team of the Pentagon is on the case. Maybe the fact that the electrical grid doesn't work, the phones don't work, the bridges are all still bombed out, the sewage system barely works and the hospitals all lie in ruins should have tipped the Pentagon's investigators off that a FUCKING LOT of Contractors and major Republican-connected firms took $18,000,000,000 from America's taxpayers and built nothing in return? Fuck you, this is clearly a weak attempt to head off Congressional Investigation, and it ain't gonna work. I, for one, cannot WAIT to watch Henry Waxman crawl right up the Pentagon's ass and shake free documentation on all of the people involved with this debacle and where, exactly, their political contributions went.
The problems stem in part from the Pentagon's struggle to get a handle on the unprecedented number of contractors now helping run the nation's wars. Contractors are used in battle zones to do nearly everything but fight. They run cafeterias and laundries for troops, move supplies, run communication systems and repair weapons systems.
Problems created by none other than Vice President Dick Cheney, when he was back in the Bush Sr. White House and recommended that all non-combat aspects of war be outsourced to private companies who supposedly could do the job cheaper and faster and better. Cheney then left public "service" to run the largest of these new military outsourcing contractors. So yeah, first off, I'm unimpressed by the idea that the Pentagon is "getting a handle on the unprecedented number of contractors now helping run the nation's wars" because they eagerly aided and abetted this change.

Also, I love how the article avoids talking about the OTHER set of major contractors in Iraq: the Private Military Contractors who are taking US tax dollars in return for riding roughshod over the country's civilians, thereby making Iraqis hate us all the more. And where do these $5000/week mercenaries come from? Oh, the US Military trains them at the cost of millions of dollars, then loses them to PMC's the second their committments are finished... a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. First, you've paid a fortune to train these mercenaries, then you pay 100x their old military salaries to do the same job. Where's the "savings" in that?
Special agents from the Army's major procurement fraud unit recently were dispatched to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, where they are "working closely and sharing information with other law enforcement agencies in the region," Grey said.

"Given the billions of dollars in contract dollars that have been and are being spent, it is our experience that our agents will detect millions of dollars in fraud before we are done," Grey said. "And just as likely, we will be instrumental in bringing back to the U.S. government millions of dollars in recoveries."
Wow, bringing back MILLIONS of dollars. Of course, at $18,000,000,000 that means that even if the Pentagon's investigators return $180 Million dollars, it's still only ONE FUCKING PERCENT of the money which was squandered on Iraq's "rebuilding." And that itself is a drop in the bucket compared to the eventual $1-2 TRILLION dollar cost of this war.
One case involves an Army chief warrant officer accused of taking a $50,000 bribe to steer a contract for paper products and plastic flatware away from a government contractor and to a Kuwaiti company, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court at Rock Island, Ill.

Prosecutors say the officer took the bribe while at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, while he was the Army's food service adviser for Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, according to the indictment. The officer is also accused of trying to smuggle $40,000 in undeclared cash into the United States on a December 2005 flight from Kuwait to Dover, Del.
Sooo... it wasn't so much that investigators caught this guy and investigated him, it's more that he got caught at the border with $40G in cash and then the Pentagon figured it out. Oh, yeah, my confidence IS high.
Other cases involve a government officer manipulating a contract in exchange for large bribes, a contractor making false claims against the government and an official accepting gratuities. The cases range in type, seriousness and complexity and involve contractors both inside and outside the United States.
Other such cases include a former President earning billions off the war that his son started, a sitting Vice President falsifying evidence for this war in order to drive the price of his corporation's stock up by 700% since he entered office, and a stubborn dry drunk of a president unwilling to change course or even admit he's made any mistakes because he's absolutely certain that his benefactors in the Saudi Royal Family will handsomely reward him with lavish "Speaking Fees" for speeches in return for his having demolished Iraq's ability to pump oil. These cases, however, will NEVER be investigated, because to do so would be to expose our country's leadership as a group of Armaments Manufacturers who are simply imitating their great-grandparent's activities in World War One.
The Pentagon has viewed outsourcing a wide variety of military tasks as much more efficient, leaving troops trained in combat to the business of war.

But the Government Accountability Office reported in December that the military has been losing millions of dollars because it cannot monitor industry workers in far-flung locations. The Defense Department's inability to manage contractors effectively has hurt military operations and unit morale and cost the Pentagon money, the GAO said.

Some 150,000 contractors have been supporting the Army in Southwest Asia, which includes Iraq. That compares with 9,200 contractors in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Commanders are often unsure how many contractors use their bases and require food, housing and protection, according to the report. One Army official said the service estimates losing about $43 million each year on free meals provided to contractors who also get a food allowance.

The new Democratic Congress plans to ramp up oversight of the billions of dollars being spent in Iraq, including dollars awarded to contractors. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said he plans to target contractor abuse.
The best news of the entire article, but frankly, it's a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have all run away.