Sunday Sermon – Greed and Corruption Edition
“I want to know why I’m planning a funeral while George Bush is planning a wedding.”
Anika Lawal, of Maryland, whose daughter, an Army sergeant, was recently killed in Iraq
— in Newsweek
From The Great Iraq Swindle, Rolling Stone: [all emphasis mine]
How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins — he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq.
A few months later, in March 2004, your company magically wins a contract from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to design and build the Baghdad Police College, a facility that’s supposed to house and train at least 4,000 police recruits. But two years and $72 million later, you deliver not a functioning police academy but one of the great engineering clusterfucks of all time, a practically useless pile of rubble so badly constructed that its walls and ceilings are literally caked in shit and piss, a result of subpar plumbing in the upper floors.
You’ve done such a terrible job, in fact, that when auditors from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction visit the college in the summer of 2006, their report sounds like something out of one of the Saw movies: “We witnessed a light fixture so full of diluted urine and feces that it would not operate,” they write, adding that “the urine was so pervasive that it had permanently stained the ceiling tiles” and that “during our visit, a substance dripped from the ceiling onto an assessment team member’s shirt.” The final report helpfully includes a photo of a sloppy brown splotch on the outstretched arm of the unlucky auditor.
For all the creative ways that contractors came up with to waste, mismanage and steal public money in Iraq, the standard remained good old-fashioned fucking up. Take the case of the Basra Children’s Hospital, a much-ballyhooed “do-gooder” project championed by Laura Bush and Condi Rice. […] the Basra Children’s Hospital was a state-of-the-art medical facility set to be built in a town without safe drinking water. “Why build a hospital for kids, when the kids have no clean water?” said Rep. Jim Kolbe, a Republican from Arizona.Bechtel was given $50 million to build the hospital — but a year later, with the price tag soaring to $169 million, the company was pulled off the project without a single bed being ready for use. The government was unfazed: Bechtel, explained USAID spokesman David Snider, was “under a ‘term contract,’ which means their job is over when their money ends.”
The article’s concluding paragraph says it all:
If catastrophic failure is worth billions, where’s the incentive to deliver success? There’s no profit in patriotism, no cost-plus angle on common decency. Sixty years after America liberated Europe, those are just words, and words don’t pay the bills.
Read the whole thing – and keep a bottle of Mylanta handy.
As the article makes clear, the answer to Ms. Lawal’s question – and that of so many others – is spelled M.O.N.E.Y.
There’s money to be made in Iraq — lots of it — and you don’t even need to do a good job or even a fair-to-middling job. BushCo rewards fuckups – mainly because fucking up is all they can manage. (Can anyone name one thing — just one — that this mis-Administration and its cronies and hangers-on haven’t managed to fuck up beyond all repair?)
Just write up a half-assed contract for a rigged award system, and you’ll be rolling in dough while never fulfilling the contract – or doing it so badly that it can’t even be called a half-assed job, so badly it’ll look like a cardboard-and-tarp fort put together by kindergarteners.
And, hell, if you do all that and manage to fuck with the troops – either through piss-poor R&R areas, or contaminated water, or having refrigeration mechanics fixing Humvees or exposing them to unnecessary danger by charging the government for moving empty – but heavily-guarded – trucks back and forth across the desert … all the better.
How many more of our children will die for the great money-maker that is Iraq?