Jul 10, 2006

Where did the cash go to rebuild Iraq?

60 Minutes, the flagship of CBS News, reruns some of their best stuff during the summer. Steve Kroft reported on the Billions being wasted and lost in Feburary of this year, it was rerun Sunday night. He interviews military and civilian contractors.The Link to the transcript of the show is here. The opening slavo in the story is this:

"The United States has spent more than a quarter of a trillion dollars during its three years in Iraq, and more than $50 billion of it has gone to private contractors hired to guard bases, drive trucks, feed and shelter the troops and rebuild the country ."

Thats Trillion..with a "T". The 60 Minutes story goes back to the beginning of the occupation, and details how deals were made on paper napkins over a bottle of vodka. The contract was drawn up the next day and signed,sealed and delivered to the indepdendant contractor to begin work. Since the banks were gone, they were paid in..cash..cold hard cash was shipped to Iraq, millions of dollars in cash moved into Iraq to pay the contractors..sometimes for work they never,ever did. They moved it around in wheelbarrows. They played catch with it. When asked about the accounting system used to control and keep track of the millions, Frank Willis, who was the No. 2 man at the Coalition Provisional Authority’s Ministry of Transportation said this:

"I would describe it as nonexistent."

The story focuses primarily on Custer Battles, a company with no experience in the area that they were seeking to do business with our federal government. They arrived in Iraq without any money or plans. They did however have ties to the Republicans and even better....the White House,or so they told people.

Within the first year, Custer Battles had over $100 Million in contracts to rebuild Iraq. They failed miserably. The company admits there was little in the way of checks and balances, no control over the movement of cash. The CPA did not have the personnel to monitor all the companies "doing business" in Iraq. Custer Battles even admits there was little or no monitoring of the work they were to do, the money they were given..do I need to go on?

The following is an excerpt of a letter that 60 Minutes obtained that was written by the airports security director to the CPA regarding Custer Battles..its a doozey sportsfans:

"Custer Battles has shown themselves to be unresponsive, uncooperative, incompetent, deceitful, manipulative and war profiteers. Other than that they are swell fellows."

Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy about our tax dollars at work? No?

Wait..it gets better.

The CPA never did get the airport in Baghdad rebuilt and operational. But Custer Battles got to keep all the money they were given to help rebuild the airport. The CPA also gave Custer Battles a great review and put them on other contracts for which they had no experience. One, to supply logistical support for a massive program to replace Iraq’s currency. That means they supplied the trucks to move the massive amounts of American dollars moving all over the country of Iraq.

They fucked that up too. A quote from British Col Philip Wilkinson: "Absolutely abysmally. I mean, it was beyond a joke." The sumbitches sent trucks to Iraq that didn't even friggin run. Their response when asked why in the blue hell would you send inoperable vehicles to move Millions of dollars in cash:

'We were only told we had to deliver the trucks.' The contract doesn't say they had to work,"

Wait, it gets better. Now for the governments response to this bullshit,per the online transcript of the 60 Minutes report:

"The company continued to work in Iraq for another year, even after Robert Isakson, one of Custer Battles' major sub-contractors, went to federal authorities with allegations of criminal misconduct."

Isakson and another whistleblower claim Custer Battles bilked the government out of $50 million, and they're suing the company on behalf of U.S. taxpayers to recover some of the money. How much do you think they are going to get back of our hard-earned cash? By ours, I mean the US taxpayers.

A federal jury found Custer Battles guilty of 37 separate fraudulent acts. It demanded the company repay a lousy $10 million dollars in damages and penalties to the U.S. government and whistleblowers. Thats it..finished.over and out. I bet you are about as pissed as I am at this point in the story, aren't you?

There are plenty of investigations ongoing. Will anything come of them? Your guess is as good as mine. But, I would like to leave you with a quote from North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, who's committe investigated Hallibutons alleged over-charging excesses: "Let me tell you that there’s very little oversight by anybody on anything in this Congress. We have a president and a Congress of the same party. They have no interest in doing any aggressive oversight."

This isn't news to me Mr. Dorgan, and I doubt it is news to you,dear reader either. This is but one story, of the raping of Iraq and the royal screwing we, as taxpayers who are funding this debacle, are getting daily.




Today's Photo..er..Graphic..ok, Picture.

It's moving day!!!!!!!!!!!!

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