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IRAQ WAR -
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U.S. profiteering on Iraq War

Posted in the database on Wednesday, May 03rd, 2006 @ 18:23:42 MST (1722 views)
from aljazeera.com  

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(Reuters Photo) "Like a colonial power, the Bush admin took Iraq’s oil money, and wasted it,"

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953.

Tragically, some of the architects of the Iraq War profited from the devastation unleashed on Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. If their involvement in this bloody war was treated as a criminal conspiracy, they would have been tried and sent to jail. But the war in Iraq, where some people profit and make blood-stained millions, is another story.

According to an article on Political Cortex, warmongers aren’t stopped from selling their stories about their contribution to the Iraq War. On the contrary, they are rewarded. Paul Wolfowitz was number two at the Pentagon, where the war decisions were taken with his blessings and flawed wisdom. Now he is the President of the World Bank, with a $300,000 tax-free annual salary. But this salary wasn’t enough for this failed Pentagon adviser. They also paid his country club dues and provided him also with a mortgage allowance. If Wolfowitz's decisions are as bad as they were in the Iraq War, the World Bank could be in big trouble.

Another important war profiteer is Tommy Ray Franks, a U.S. retired General who led the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein and was commander-in-chief of the American occupation forces. He is now collecting $5 million for his memoirs. Reports say Camden Country, New Jersey authorities paid Franks $75,000 for one speech. Also Paul Bremer, who led the Coalition Provisional Authority following the invasion, gets as much as $40,000 per speech. He too received a $100,000 advance for his book. One must wonder what exactly can these people say about the Iraq War debacle, except not to launch a war without proof.

A private in the U.S. Army gets $3,104.00 per month. A captain receives $3,637.00 a month. A one star general makes $12,809. Each category includes an extra $625 a month for combat pay.

Several analysts say that Iraq War certainly benefited construction, oil and contract security businesses. A recent conference in Warsaw discussed the increasing privatization of war, including the growth of private military firms in war zones, especially in Iraq. These companies, accused by the International Committee of the Red Cross of violating international humanitarian laws, are increasingly taking over roles traditionally carried out by the military during war, in a booming industry worth $100bn (£56bn) a year. U.S. army investigators found that these firms were responsible for more than a third of prisoner abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison. None of them has been prosecuted. Not quite civilians nor soldiers, they fall under a legal grey area.

A handful of companies are already reaping the benefits from President Bush's invasion of Iraq. Many Americans blame Halliburton unit KBR of trying to profit from Iraq war, an adventure spurred on in large part by former Halliburton CEO and current U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. KBR has several key defense contracts in the war-torn country, including the massive open-ended master Iraq contract, known as LogCAP III, plus mandates to restore Iraq's oil fields. KBR's five-year financial data shows that revenues have exploded thanks to the post-9/11 wars, from $5.1 billion in 2002 to $10.1 billion in 2005—about half of all Halliburton revenues. The G&I business accounted for virtually all of the growth. The unit accounted for 61 percent of the company's revenues in 2003 and 80 percent of revenues in 2005. The Middle East alone accounted for $6 billion of KBR's 2005 revenues.

Although the U.S. blamed the failure of the reconstruction on the Iraqi resistance, recent reports by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction show that the vast majority of projects were derailed through incompetence, fraud and corruption. One of the many corruption cases revealed in Iraq is that of U.S. businessman Philip Bloom who pled guilty in February to conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering charges. He admitted to giving more than $2 million in cash and gifts to U.S. officials in order to obtain Iraq reconstruction contracts for companies he owns. Bloom could face up to 40 years in prison as part of a plea bargain. Another individual, Robert Stein, a former top U.S. contracting official in Iraq, also pled guilty to conspiring with Bloom and others to pocket reconstruction funds. The Washington Post said Bloom and Stein were able to exploit a "chaotic, freewheeling and cash-rich environment" in Iraq following the U.S. invasion.

Another case, reported last month by the Los Angeles Times, involves Kimberly Olson, one of the first U.S. female fighter pilots and a highly decorated air force colonel. She was brought before a military tribunal on charges of using her position to win more than $3 million in contracts for a private security company with which she was associated. Olson was reprimanded and allowed to resign from the Air Force with an honorable discharge and no reduction in rank. She was also banned from receiving further government contracts for three years, but is appealing the ban.

The Boston Globe on April 17 published another article that showed the extent of the corruption in U.S.-occupied Iraq. Citing Congressional investigators, the newspaper reported, "American contractors swindled hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds." The article described how immediately after the invasion, American officials seized Iraq’s oil revenues and money found in bank accounts and placed the funds, totaling some $20.7 billion, in an account called the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI). This money was then doled out to contractors, mainly U.S. firms, without the benefit of elementary controls or accounting procedures.

Commenting on the effect of the massive theft of Iraqi wealth, Alan Grayson, a Virginia attorney involved in filing lawsuits against contractors, said: "Like a colonial power, the Bush administration took Iraq’s oil money, and wasted it. The Iraqis well know that. That’s one reason why they’re shooting at U.S. soldiers."

Those who personally profited from the U.S.-led war against Iraq got the money over the dead bodies of over 100,000 Iraqis. The several corruption scandals that have been revealed are not mere aberrations or incidental products of the invasion. Rather, they reflect the criminal essence of an unprovoked imperialist war based on provocations and lies and launched for the purpose of seizing oil resources and gaining strategic advantage over rival powers.

"The U.S. is rushing to open Iraq to a flood of outside corporate interests, before the country's own government can take power," said Chris Kromm, director of the non-profit Institute for Southern Studies, the initiator of the Stop the War Profiteers Campaign. "If the Iraq war was really about democracy, why won't they wait and let the Iraqi people decide what to do with their economy?"



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