The accounting of the financial cost of the nearly decade-long Iraq War will go on for years, but a recent analysis has shed light on the companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels.
Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops.
Ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds, according to an analysis by the Financial Times that was published Tuesday.
The No. 1 recipient?
Houston-based energy-focused engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR), which was spun off from its parent, oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL), in 2007.
The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg.
Who were Nos. 2 and 3?
Agility Logistics (KSE:AGLTY) of Kuwait and the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Together, these firms garnered $13.5 billion of U.S. contracts.
As private enterprise entered the war zone at unprecedented levels, the amount of corruption ballooned, even if most contractors performed their duties as expected.
According to the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of corruption by defense contractors may be as high as $60 billion. Disciplined soldiers that would traditionally do many of the tasks are commissioned by private and publicly listed companies.
Even without the graft, the costs of paying for these services are higher than paying governement employees or soldiers to do them because of the profit motive involved. No-bid contracting – when companies get to name their price with no competing bid – didn’t lower legitimate expenses. (Despite promises by President Barack Obama to reel in this habit, the trend toward granting favored companies federal contracts without considering competing bids continued to grow, by 9 percent last year, according to the Washington Post.)
Even though the military has largely pulled out of Iraq, private contractors remain on the ground and continue to reap U.S. government contracts. For example, the U.S. State Department estimates that taxpayers will dole out $3 billion to private guards for the government’s sprawling embassy in Baghdad.
The costs of paying private and publicly listed war profiteers seem miniscule in light of the total bill for the war.
Last week, the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University said the war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion dollars, not including the $490 billion in immediate benefits owed to veterans of the war and the lifetime benefits that will be owed to them or their next of kin.
US Accused of Supplying Chemicals Weapons to Extremists - 'fueling and orchestrating' war crime against people of Syria
Moscow has expressed its concern over the UN’s “inconsistent” and “unconstructive” approach to dealing with the charges of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria. Sara Flounders explains what could go wrong if the issue is not thoroughly addressed.
Russia has accused the UN of yielding to the pressure of “certain states” and disrupting the investigation into what Moscow says are perfectly verifiable claims, all in order to further condemn the regime of President Bashar Assad, while victimizing rebels. The attack in question took place on March 19 and has claimed the lives of 25 people, with blame being directed both ways.
Sara Flounders, who is the head of the International Action Center in New York, is adamantly opposed to the drumming up of any charges as a pretext for intervention or invasion. She recalls the lessons of Iraq and Libya – both now completely destitute and without properly-functioning governments. Finally, Flounders believes that the US is putting the region’s people in mortal danger by supplying extremists in the area with weapons for the purpose of bringing about regime change in Syria.
RT: The UN says it wants to assess all possible uses of chemical weapons, throughout all of Syria, and not just Aleppo. Russia isn’t too happy about that. Is that not the logical way forward?
SF: Well, it’s the most dangerous way forward, because the US is clearly using the UN and every possible international agency in order to continue their intervention. It’ the US and NATO that are clearly pumping arms into the region, that have orchestrated and created the crisis, using chemical weapons that are quite likely set to create a far more serious crisis, because they have not yet been successful in creating a regime change in Syria, which is their agenda. It’s the agenda of Saudi Arabia, of Turkey – a NATO member – and very much the agenda of the US, who is fueling and orchestrating this war crime against the people of Syria.
RT: The Russian foreign minister has drawn a parallel with Iraq where he says that false reports of weapons of mass destruction of course led to the invasion there. Could we perhaps be seeing something similar happening in Syria?
SF: That’s what’s so dangerous about this. The same scenario, the same playbook seems to be used now in Syria with similar charges. I mean – who has the weapons of mass destruction in the world today? It’s the Pentagon. And that’s a fact. Nevertheless, using the charge against countries that are trying to defend their own sovereignty again and again, has been an excuse for war – for occupation, for destabilization, for pumping in more and more weapons, paying mercenaries and death squads, attempting to foment civil war and sectarian warfare. It’s a very dangerous policy, and the worst and most dangerous ones are again and again, from the Sate Department, from the White House: the warnings that chemical weapons would be an excuse for deeper US involvement. So the charge is a very serious charge!
RT: What would happen if Assad’s regime collapsed – and he has allegedly got stockpiles of chemical weapons: what would happen to those? Is there a danger that they could get into the wrong hands?
SF: Of course, there’s a danger from every angle in this. There’s a Syrian government the people are defending. And the idea of outside intervention, of orchestrated mercenaries sweeping into the region and using it as one more weapons cache, is of course very dangerous for all the people of the region. They have no plan for rebuilding Syria, for providing for people’s needs. We can of course see the enormous payoffs, the loss of life the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Libya, have created. If you look at Libya today, it’s without an ounce of stability, a completely non-functional government – this is what they have in store for Syria, where already 70,000 people have died as a result of this US - NATO orchestrated war.
(genocide watch) Palestinian prisoner: ‘This hospital is like jail in fascist Germany during Holocaust’
Riots over the death of a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail rampaged across the West Bank and Gaza this week. One of the detainees RT managed to reach said 25 of his fellow inmates had cancer and were being denied treatment.
The prisoner, whose anonymity is preserved for security reasons, believes medical assistance in the Israeli jails is withheld on purpose, “to break the will of the detainees.” Speaking to RT, he described the negligence sick Palestinian detainees are faced with.
“We suffer from an incredibly low standard of medical assistance. Among those detained here, there are at least 25 people who suffer from cancer - and they’re not getting the treatment they need. They are only given painkillers,” he said, adding that the prison hospital is “like a jail, like the ones in fascist Germany during the Holocaust. It only has a small infirmary, if you get placed there for 15 hours - you leave with sick kidneys or liver, or any other kind of disease.”
Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian inmate of an Israeli prison, whose death on Tuesday provoked a wave of clashes across West Bank and Gaza, had reportedly been refused release for treatment. According to Abu Hamdiyeh’s family, he had complained about his health since the summer of last year. But it was only in March, when he was already terminally ill, that prison authorities allowed him to be treated in hospital, where he died a week later.
Hamdiyeh’s funeral attracted thousands of mourners. The raging and rioting crowd blamed Israel for the 63-year-old prisoner’s death.
The accusations were dismissed at the highest level.
"The Palestinian detainees imprisoned in Israel receive excellent medical attention and are visited by the Red Cross, whereas inmates in PA prisons receive nothing," Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said, accusing the Palestinian Authority of exploiting the prisoner's death in order to escalate tensions in the West Bank, according to Haaretz.
Hamdiyeh’s death is the second of a Palestinian in an Israeli jail this year - 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat died of a heart attack in February. Palestinian authorities claimed the he died after being tortured, citing autopsy findings revealed numerous injuries. Jaradat’s funeral also drew thousands of Palestinian demonstrators, who clashed with Israeli police.
The death of Abu Hamdiyeh had much stronger repercussions, showing increasing frustration of the Palestinians. Gaza broke the fragile four-month-long ceasefire, firing rockets into southern Israel, and eliciting an airstrike from Tel Aviv.
“There is a state of wide-spread anger and indignation over what many people consider a premeditated murder by the Israelis. Palestinians think that the death of Maysara Hamdiyeh was a direct result of Israeli criminal negligence as well as moral callousness,” Khalid Amayreh, a Palestinian journalist, told RT.
More than 4,000 Palestinian inmates went on a hunger strike to show their anger at Hamdiyeh’s death. They want to draw the world’s attention to their plight.
“We are demanding that the international community use the [UN] Security Council to free the sick detainees. We are talking of those who are mortally ill. I was just released from a hospital where I saw a young man suffering from kidney stones, who was only getting pain killers instead of treatment. There are people among us who have spent 35 years behind bars. We are demanding an International committee that would visit these prisons and prison hospitals. All of them,” the Palestinian prisoner told RT.
A stronger response from the international community to the situation with the Palestinian prisoners is something a Montreal based Center for Research on Globalization is calling for in its report issued April 6.
“Israel is arguably exempt from strong condemnation over its treatment of the Palestinian people as a result of certain international human rights organizations’ ability to ignore Israeli violations against the Palestinians,” the report says.
(the refinement of white supremacy) Who Polices Prosecutors who Abuse their Authority? Usually Nobody
Many non-white people have little understanding of the awesome power of prosecutors (aka district attorneys or attorney generals) or the term "prosecutorial discretion." Much of what we know comes from the media - which is controlled by white people and thereby reflects their interests in maintaining and refining the white supremacy system. The media misinformation provided and lack of information about prosecutors and what they are up to is an intentional part of your conditioning or mind shampoo process designed to confuse you and lead you to have unreal expectations of reality - mental illness.
Prosecutors (aka district attorneys, attorney generals) work for the ("State") Executive (mayors, county executives, governors and the president). These individuals pursue policies that reflect the interests of those who control them. Contrary to votary miseducation, this does not mean you. Although, the world is 90% non-white, white people control everything of value in all areas of people activity, 24/7, worldwide. White supremacists/racists are directly or indirectly responsible for everything that happens, or does not happen to non-white people. Racism is not merely a pattern of individual and/or institutional practice; it is a universal "operating system" of white supremacy and domination in which the majority of the world's white people participate.
Most prosecutors are white. Criminal defendants are disproportionately non-white. A major goal of the white supremacy system is the greater confinement of substantial numbers of non-white people, especially males. Neely Fuller explains that "in a socio-material system dominated by White Supremacists, all major decisions involving non-white people are made by White Supremacists."
No doubt, this includes decisions made by prosecutors who have the power to decide; whether a non-white person will be prosecuted (any case can be Nollied, diverted or deferred. Any case.), what charges to paper & present to the court, what kind of plea to offer, what kind of sentence to seek & recommend to the court (such as confinement, probation or to defer the imposition of a sentence), whether the death penalty will be sought and whether probation should be revoked or extended. As stated, most of these decisions are made by white people (racist suspects) about non-white people (victims of white supremacy). Of course, not all white people are racist/white supremacist - but most are. To the extent that a racist had anything to do with the prosecution of a non-white person's case, the criminal process was necessarily unjust and repugnant.
The following Pro-Publica article is about the power of the prosecutor (or the executive) and how it is basically unchecked by Courts or state bar organizations (also not run by non-whites). [more here]. It only makes sense if it is understood in the context of white supremacy. In his struggle against white supremacy, Mao Tse-Tung said, "it is well known that when you do anything, unless you understand its actual circumstances, its nature and its relations to other things, you will not know the laws governing it, or know how to do it, or be able to do it well."