NEW YORK - August 12 - The
New York-based World Policy Institute released a report today - "New Numbers: The Price of Freedom in Iraq and Power in Washington"
- that raises questions about insider-dealing and potential conflicts-of-interest in the Bush administration's privatized
approach to rebuilding Iraq.
"Unfortunately, when it comes to rebuilding Iraq, the Bush administration
has been ethically challenged and politically tone-deaf," notes William D. Hartung, the director of the Institute's arms project
and a co-author of the new report. "When the first major contract went to Dick Cheney's former firm, Halliburton, in a secret,
no-bid deal; and the second major contract went from the U.S. Agency for International Development to Bechtel, a firm that
USAID chief Andrew Natsios used to work for, it was painfully clear that the 'fix is in' when it comes to deciding who gets
contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq."
The report goes into significant detail about how companies like Boeing,
Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Alliant Techsystems, Halliburton, Bechtel, and Dyncorp have profited from the war in Iraq and the
subsequent rebuilding process, and documents the personal and financial links between these firms and the Bush administration.
"The military-industrial complex is alive and well and thriving in George W. Bush's Washington," notes Hartung, who is at
work on a book about war profiteering by Bush's inner circle, tentatively entitled, "How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy?"
(forthcoming, Nation/Thunder's Mouth books, January 2004).
President Eisenhower spoke of the dangers of "undue influence, whether
sought or unsought,' exerted by the military-industrial complex. Under the Bush/Rove regime, that influence is clearly being
sought, as evidenced by the President's use of an aircraft carrier to stage a campaign-style "Top Gun" landing to mark the
"cessation of hostilities," in Iraq, and his speech the next day at United Defense, a major weapons maker that is owned by
the Carlyle Group, an investment firm that keeps the President's father, George Herbert Walker Bush, on its payroll. "If President
Eisenhower were with us today, he would be suffering his own case of 'shock and awe' over the lengths this administration
is willing to go to in using the military-industrial complex as a political tool to help its friends and grease the path towards
its re-election," Hartung noted.
Given the clear and present conflicts-of-interest evident in the Bush
administration's prosecution of the war in Iraq and the subsequent rebuilding effort, the Institute report calls for Congressional
action in a number of key areas:
Transparency and accountability - There should be a Senate Investigation
on war profiteering comparable to the one that Harry Truman conducted at the height of U.S. involvement in World War II, and
legislation should be passed requiring all rebuilding contracts for Iraq to be subject to an open bidding process, unless
the President can provide persuasive evidence of an emergency that precludes going through normal competitive processes;
Curbs on profiteering - The report calls for all contracts for the rebuilding
of Iraq to be on a limited profit basis, not the open-ended, cost-plus deals that Halliburton and other key U.S. contractors
have received thus far;
Preserve Iraq's resources for the Iraqi people - Rebuilding contracts
should be short-term, so as not to pre-empt the ability of a future democratic government in Iraq to make its own choices
about how the country's resources should be developed;
Put the political money/favor machine on hold - To avoid even the appearance
of a conflict of interest, President Bush and all of his challengers should take a pledge that they will not accept campaign
contributions from companies that have profited from the war in Iraq, or the subsequent rebuilding effort.
To get a copy of the full "New Numbers: The Price of Freedom in Iraq
and Power in Washington" report, please email Frida Berrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to this link.