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thought I should share this... It makes me sick to my stomach. I already knew, but to see hard evidence in a great source rather than word on the street or a Jello Biafra CD is reassuring. Reassuring how fucked up this is.
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington Friday October 31, 2003 The Guardian
Major donors to George Bush's election campaigns were the main beneficiaries of an $8bn (?4.7bn) bonanza in government contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq, an investigation published yesterday said. In the most comprehensive survey to date of the postwar financial dispensations for Afghanistan and Iraq, the Centre for Public Integrity tracked more than 70 US firms and contractors involved in reconstruction, exposing their connections to figures in various administrations, Congress and the Pentagon.
The report arrives a day after senators agreed to give $18.4bn for the reconstruction of Iraq in grants, rather than loans, a move seen as a victory for the Bush administration. Mr Bush was in Ohio yesterday trying to raise additional funds for an election warchest that has reached $85m.
According to the centre's report, more than half of the companies - and nearly every one of the top 10 contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq - had close ties to Washington's political establishment or to the Pentagon. Company executives had worked in previous administrations - Democratic as well as Republican - and cultivated privileged connections with their old workplaces.
The study found a clear tilt towards firms with Republican connections - especially among the top 10 list of beneficiaries from the postwar era.
Since 1990, the companies and their employees have donated $49m to national political campaigns. Republican party committees received $12.7m, the report says, compared with $7.1m for the Democrats.
President Bush alone got $500,000, more than any other candidate since 1990. The biggest postwar windfall by far - $2.3bn - went to Kellogg, Brown & Root, or KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the defence contractor under the stewardship of Dick Cheney, until he was chosen by Mr Bush as his running mate.
Connections to the Bush administration helped even with the dispensation of relatively low-profile projects, such as the $38m contract awarded to Science Applications International Corp for development of representative government and free media in Iraq.
The firm was associated until recently with David Kay, the expert leading Washington's hunt for Saddam Hussein's elusive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Kay left his post as vice-president in October 2002, six months before the war.
Yesterday's study followed more than six months of investigation in which researchers from the centre filed 73 petitions with the Pentagon, the state department, and the US agency for international development for information about contracts.
Bill Allison, the managing editor of the report, says it presents a disturbing view of the way business is done in Washington, especially under the Bush administration. "At the very least it shows that this administration does not pay particularly close attention to ethics," he said yesterday.
Despite its revelations, however, the report is incomplete.
Mr Allison admits that researchers had been frustrated by bureaucratic stonewalling - especially in the state department - and a general bureaucratic reluctance to divulge information about contracts which, he argues, fosters cronyism.
"The lack of disclosure is a real problem. When you have companies like KBR, and Bechtel and SAIC that have high-ranking ties between them and the administration, it does raise questions about whether they are taking care of their friends."
-------------------- Blas'?trid (bl?s tr?d)
n. 3rd generation derivitave of a combination of 'bastard' and 'blasted'. Used as both an insult or an expletive.
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