Looting Iraq, looting America
The looting of Iraq by the Bush administration is being given little attention.
Just before the war, Bush appointed Riley Bechtel to his Export Council to advise the government on how to create markets for American companies overseas. Subsequently, Bechtel was awarded a $600 million Iraq reconstruction contract.
Since Vice President Cheney still owns stock in Halliburton, he will personally benefit from the $292 million in Iraq-related revenue reported for the quarter ended June 30. Halliburton’s contracts alone will cost taxpayers an estimated $2 billion.
American taxpayers are also paying $4.8 million to Stevedoring Services of America for management of the Umm Qasr port, $10 million to Abt Associates Inc. to reform the Iraqi Ministry of Health, and $2.5 million to Skylink Air and Logistic Support Inc. to manage Iraq’s airports. Keep in mind that all of these functions were formerly handled by very competent Iraqi firms.
Prior to the war Iraq had one of the most sophisticated network of highways in the region, they had an advanced communications system, a highly regarded educational system, and modern hospitals.
Iraq has over 130,000 engineers. After the Gulf War in 1991, when Baghdad was extensively damaged by bombing, the Iraqis themselves rebuilt hundreds of bridges, buildings, communications and electrical power grids. Despite the ability of Iraqis to rebuild their own country, billions of dollars in contracts have been awarded to American companies.
In May when the Coalition Provisional Authority wanted estimates for the cost of replacing the New Diyala Bridge in Baghdad, a prominent Iraqi engineering company, well known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq, submitted a bid of $300,000 which included plans, locally acquired materials and labor. A week later the bridge contract was given to an American company whose estimate, using imported materials and labor, was around $50 million!
The U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council recently announced reforms to allow total foreign ownership in all sectors of the Iraqi economy including electricity, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, education and engineering. The huge sell-off program provides foreign investors with tax breaks, elimination of tariffs on imports, and includes full remittance to the host country of profits, dividends, interest and royalties.
Absent any credible evidence of an imminent threat to the U.S., it is now clear that the war in Iraq was purely a financial venture designed to enrich the corporate-connected thieves in the White House, at the expense of the Iraqi economy and the American taxpayer.
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