"Arab Trainer" bought illegal warheads from Halliburton

David Hudak, a 42-year-old entrepreneur from Vancouver, Canada, is being tried in federal court here on charges he illegally possessed nearly 2,500 illegal warheads designed for shoulder-launched missile systems, and of illegally providing defense training to soldiers from the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. ally. His trial ended its third week Thursday, with Hudak taking the stand for the first time. He told jurors the warheads the government says he illegally owned were sold to him by a U.S. subsidiary of Halliburton.

Hudak said the company, Jet Research Center, called the deal a "blue light special" and sold the devices, which had failed inspection for use in military weapons, to Hudak's commercial demolition company for about $1.35 apiece, far less than what he would have paid for other similar explosives.

Federal customs agents as well as agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided Hudak's Roswell business, High Energy Access Tools, in August 2002. At the time of his arrest, Hudak was training approximately 25 counterterrorism soldiers from the United Arab Emirates in the use of explosives to forcibly enter an aircraft without killing passengers. During the raid, agents also discovered the 2,500 warheads.

Prosecutors contend he lacked the proper federal license to provide that training. They also say the warheads are illegal "destructive devices," a classification that includes bombs, missiles, grenades and mines. Prosecutors' contend that Hudak's employees were told by the United Arab Emirates that the training it was requesting from Hudak's company had been specifically denied to it by the U.S. government. He faces a 50-year mandatory sentence if convicted.
Project Trinity: I-I, SDi, Neurotechnology: Project Trinity 101
A new voting member The Mudshark gives us tales of Missions Accomplished Impossible, Der Gropenfurer Another Dittohead Recovery Program and other good stuff. Please offer a warm League of Liberals
Hammerdown has voted
Spongebob Squarepants has agreed.
No more Great Moments in Hypocrisy, Where's the Outrage, Bush Lied, Schweet - Hammerdown has joined the League of Liberals Please welcome the illustrious SPADEHAMMER to the League and read.
Blunted on Reality has a great post on the Dean Flag Flap and a good reason to vote in the showcase.
The high price of protest, family values, and a Govs Enron ties are amoung the GOP felonies of the week on the Felonious Elephant
Lying Liars, Wrong Answers and Reasons one and 60 FSU loses and T-Rex gets prolific.


Halliburton Wants Settlement Extension

Nov. 6, 2003, 4:28 PM EST Halliburton Co. needs until Nov. 19 to close a financial gap between new asbestos claims and the nearly $2.8 billion in cash set aside to settle them, the company said Thursday. The oilfield services and construction company hopes the extended negotiations will produce a revised reorganization plan for a pre-negotiated bankruptcy filing by two of its subsidiaries.

Last December, Halliburton agreed to settle 347,000 asbestos claims for about $4 billion in cash and stock. The deal includes agreement on a reorganization plan for subsidiaries DII Industries and Kellogg Brown & Root and certain of their subsidiaries.

Halliburton is biding time so the Asbestos Class Action Bill can pass Congress and dissolve any liability Halliburton may have under any settlement agreement.

You gotta read this * *** from Happy Furry Puppy Story Time

Cruise the Cosmos with the League of Liberals
Harmonic Concordance tomorrow night. - Indigo Ocean _ does that mean we all will vote this week?
Veralynne at A-Changin' Times is in Concordance too but not with Bloodthirsty Christians.
Christmas a week after Halloween? our Philosophical Scrivner wants to be British
A TTLB cartoon at Gotham City and another take on Hillbilly Heroin Rush
The author of The People's Republic of Seabrook and I share more than the same white beards, cats, and politics _ we have the same sunsign
This job "creation" chart from the 18 1/2 Minute Gap will make you wish you could Hitchhike the Galaxy
Officially unofficial is in the poppy fields of OZ looking at the tollbooths on the information superhighway
More cyberspace travel will come later _ Enjoy your trip around our cosmos.
Please Welcome Kevin and The Gunther Concept to the League of Liberals. Like The People's Republic of Seabrook, The Gunther Concept is an isolated bastion of reason in the lost State of Texas soon to be the only home of the current pReznit. So update those blogrolls and give a Texas sized Howdy to The Gunther Concept _ the latest link to the League of Liberals.

Pillage Is Forbidden: Why the Privatization of Iraq Is Illegal

What are the US-UK's responsibilities as occupier of Iraq?

On May 22, 2003, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1483, abolishing sanctions against Iraq and recognizing the United States and United Kingdom as the country's occupying powers. The resolution called upon the US-UK Authority to "comply fully with their obligations under international law, including in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907."

How has the CPA changed Iraq's economy and laws?

Among many changes, the US-UK Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has laid off hundreds of thousands of Iraqi workers, virtually eliminated trade tariffs and enacted laws that radically alter Iraq's economy. Order 39, announced by CPA head Paul Bremer on September 20, abolished Iraq's ban on foreign investment, allowing foreigners to own up to 100 percent of all sectors except natural resources. More than 200 state-owned enterprises, including electricity, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals, have been privatized. Iraq's highest tax rate has been lowered from 45 percent to a flat rate of 15 percent. Although foreign ownership of land remains illegal, companies or individuals will be allowed to lease properties for up to forty years.

Are these changes legal?

These laws stand in clear violation of Iraq's Constitution, as is openly admitted. The US Commerce Department notes that "the Iraqi Constitution prohibits foreign ownership of immovable (real) property," and "prohibits investment in, and establishment of, companies in Iraq by foreigners who are not resident citizens of Arab countries."

Consider how the CPA's new laws and massive layoffs conform to its obligations under international law:

Hague Regulations

Article 43. The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.

Article 46. Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.

Article 47. Pillage is formally forbidden.

Article 53. An army of occupation can only take possession of cash, funds, and realizable securities which are strictly the property of the State, depots of arms, means of transport, stores and supplies, and, generally, all movable property belonging to the State which may be used for military operations.

All appliances, whether on land, at sea, or in the air, adapted for the transmission of news, or for the transport of persons or things, exclusive of cases governed by naval law, depots of arms, and, generally, all kinds of munitions of war, may be seized, even if they belong to private individuals, but must be restored and compensation fixed when peace is made.

Article 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.

Geneva Conventions:

Article 53: Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.

Article 54: The Occupying Power may not alter the status of public officials or judges in the occupied territories, or in any way apply sanctions to or take any measures of coercion or discrimination against them, should they abstain from fulfilling their functions for reasons of conscience.

What is usufruct?

In accordance with Article 55 of the Hague Regulations, the US-UK are "regarded only as administrator and usufructuary" of Iraq's resources and immovable property, which it must administer "in accordance with the rules of usufruct." Bouvier's Law Dictionary defines usufruct as: "The right of enjoying a thing, the property of which is vested in another, and to draw from the same all the profit, utility and advantage which it may produce, provided it be without altering the substance of the thing."[5] As usufructuary, the US-UK coalition would have the right to use Iraq's resources without altering or destroying the character of the resource itself. It is widely recognized that agriculture, wherein crops can grow again and no serious effect is made on the soil or the land, is an appropriate usage of the right of usufruct. But oil is far different: The extraction of oil is the process of extracting the original resource itself, as the fossil fuels are not renewable and the character of the land from which it comes is severely altered, if not depleted.

In addition, the responsibilities of usufruct can also apply to structural changes to a public resource or service. As Naomi Klein points out, "What could more substantially alter 'the substance' of a public asset than to turn it into a private one?"

Does the CPA know this already?

In a leaked March 26 memo that caused a stir in Britain, Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith advised Prime Minister Tony Blair that the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was illegal. "My view is that a further Security Council resolution is needed to authorize imposing reform and restructuring of Iraq and its government," Lord Goldsmith wrote. He added that in his view "the imposition of major structural economic reforms would not be authorized by international law," and that "the longer the occupation of Iraq continues, and the more the tasks undertaken by an interim administration depart from the main objective [of disarming Saddam], the more difficult it will be to justify the lawfulness of the occupation."

Bring Halliburton Home

Cancel the contracts. Ditch the deals. Rip up the rules.
Those are a few suggestions for slogans that could help unify the growing movement against the occupation of Iraq. So far, activist debates have focused on whether the demand should be for a complete withdrawal of troops, or for the United States to cede power to the United Nations.

But the "Troops Out" debate overlooks an important fact. If every last soldier pulled out of the Gulf tomorrow and a sovereign government came to power, Iraq would still be occupied: by laws written in the interest of another country, by foreign corporations controlling its essential services, by 70 percent unemployment sparked by public sector layoffs.

Any movement serious about Iraqi self-determination must call not only for an end to Iraq's military occupation, but to its economic colonization as well. That means reversing the shock therapy reforms that US occupation chief Paul Bremer has fraudulently passed off as "reconstruction" and canceling all privatization contracts flowing from these reforms.

How can such an ambitious goal be achieved? Easy: by showing that Bremer's reforms were illegal to begin with. They clearly violate the international convention governing the behavior of occupying forces, the Hague Regulations of 1907 (the companion to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, both ratified by the United States), as well as the US Army's own code of war.

The Hague Regulations state that an occupying power must respect "unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country." The Coalition Provisional Authority has shredded that simple rule with gleeful defiance. Iraq's Constitution outlaws the privatization of key state assets, and it bars foreigners from owning Iraqi firms. No plausible argument can be made that the CPA was "absolutely prevented" from respecting those laws, and yet two months ago, the CPA overturned them unilaterally.

On September 19, Bremer enacted the now-infamous Order 39. It announced that 200 Iraqi state companies would be privatized; decreed that foreign firms can retain 100 percent ownership of Iraqi banks, mines and factories; and allowed these firms to move 100 percent of their profits out of Iraq. The Economist declared the new rules a "capitalist dream."

Order 39 violated the Hague Regulations in other ways as well. The convention states that occupying powers "shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct."

Bouvier's Law Dictionary defines "usufruct" (possibly the ugliest word in the English language) as an arrangement that grants one party the right to use and derive benefit from another's property "without altering the substance of the thing." Put more simply, if you are a housesitter, you can eat the food in the fridge, but you can't sell the house and turn it into condos. And yet that is just what Bremer is doing: What could more substantially alter "the substance" of a public asset than to turn it into a private one?

In case the CPA was still unclear on this detail, the US Army's Law of Land Warfare states that "the occupant does not have the right of sale or unqualified use of [nonmilitary] property." This is pretty straightforward: Bombing something does not give you the right to sell it. There is every indication that the CPA is well aware of the lawlessness of its privatization scheme. In a leaked memo written on March 26, British Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that "the imposition of major structural economic reforms would not be authorized by international law."

So far, most of the controversy surrounding Iraq's reconstruction has focused on the waste and corruption in the awarding of contracts. This badly misses the scope of the violation: Even if the selloff of Iraq were conducted with full transparency and open bidding, it would still be illegal for the simple reason that Iraq is not America's to sell.

The Security Council's recognition of the United States and Britain's occupation authority provides no legal cover. The UN resolution passed in May specifically required the occupying powers to "comply fully with their obligations under international law including in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907."

According to a growing number of international legal experts, this means that if the next Iraqi government decides it doesn't want to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Bechtel or Halliburton, it will have powerful legal grounds to renationalize assets that were privatized under CPA edicts. Juliet Blanch, global head of energy and international arbitration for the huge international law firm Norton Rose, says that because Bremer's reforms directly contradict Iraq's Constitution, they are "in breach of international law and are likely not enforceable." Blanch argues that the CPA "has no authority or ability to sign those [privatization] contracts" and that a sovereign Iraqi government would have "quite a serious argument for renationalization without paying compensation." Firms facing this type of expropriation would, according to Blanch, have "no legal remedy."

The only way out for the Administration is to make sure that Iraq's next government is anything but sovereign. It must be pliant enough to ratify the CPA's illegal laws, which will then be celebrated as the happy marriage of free markets and free people. Once that happens, it will be too late: The contracts will be locked in, the deals done and the occupation of Iraq permanent.

Which is why antiwar forces must use this fast-closing window to demand that the next Iraqi government be free from the shackles of these reforms. It's too late to stop the war, but it's not too late to deny Iraq's invaders the myriad economic prizes they went to war to collect in the first place. It's not too late to cancel the contracts and ditch the deals.


Halliburton's Price Gouging to End - Lieberman calls for Reimbursement of Overcharges

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center imports military fuel from Kuwait to Iraq for $1.08 to $1.19 per gallon, compared with the $2.65 per gallon that Halliburton charges the U.S. government under a no-bid Army contract. Joseph Lieberman, said the Pentagon should seek reimbursement from Halliburton ``for the amounts it has overcharged'' the government.
The Army said Wednesday it is negotiating to replace Vice President Dick Cheney's former company as an importer of oil products into Iraq. Robert Faletti, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the Army needs to find a long-term importer to serve the Iraqi population and is talking with the U.S. military's fuel delivery agency.

Faletti confirmed the negotiations after they were disclosed by Reps. Henry Waxman of California and John Dingell of Michigan, two Democratic critics of the company that Cheney led before he ran for the vice presidency. The corps spokesman said the imports will be needed through the winter because of pipeline sabotage in Iraq.

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center imports military fuel from Kuwait to Iraq for $1.08 to $1.19 per gallon, compared with the $2.65 per gallon that Halliburton charges the U.S. government under a no-bid Army contract.

Waxman and Dingell said Jeffrey Jones, the recently retired head of the fuel support center, agreed with them that Halliburton's price was too high. Jones, in an interview, said he did not know how Halliburton calculated the price it charges U.S. taxpayers. He said the fuel purchases should cost about 90 cents a gallon in Kuwait and transportation could add 10-to-20 cents more. "I can't construct a price that high,'' he said of Halliburton's price.

Halliburton has said its price is controlled by the need for more expensive, short-term contracts and the high cost of transportation in a war zone. The company has denied gouging U.S. taxpayers.

The corps has said Halliburton's no-bid contract would be replaced by two separate competitive contracts, but the selection of new contractors - originally scheduled for October - would be delayed until December or January. The corps said it needed time to revise the contract proposal to reflect higher costs, resulting from the pipeline damage.

Faletti said arrangements have not been completed with the defense support center. He said the talks are ``an admission that we know for sure this (the need for imports) will last through the winter because production in Iraq will not meet the needs.''

Joseph Lieberman, said the Pentagon should seek reimbursement from Halliburton ``for the amounts it has overcharged'' the government.
The Army Corps of Engineers was considering switching the business to the Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center, said two Democrats in the House of Representatives, Henry Waxman and John Dingell.

"Given the extraordinarily high prices that Halliburton has been charging to import gasoline, this action could save American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars," they wrote in a letter to the Army Corps.

Start your tour of the League of Liberals here:
The Democratic Veteran asks Where have all the Cowboys Gone? and offers a lesson on the Fish Dyslexicon
Anglican Aftermath and Cowardly Cave are the crux of the avuncular entries on All Facts and Opinions
What rhymes with witch-slapped? and other "horrors" are among the Halloween holdovers at WTF is it Now?
Seek or See different strings on Diebold problems in Va.
Bush Sucks Bush hates Blue Skies read Sick of Bush it is a Principal of Least Effort.
Futurballa voted for Whale Power
Speedkill supports the League of Liberals by vote and voice
Limbaughtomy revisited Escape and Diebold sued see Rush Limbaughtomy


Escape by Voice Vote

If defeat is an orphan, the U.S. occupation of Iraq, for which the Senate appropriated $87 billion by a voice vote on Monday, should already go down in the loss column. By rejecting the normal option of a recorded vote, America's senators decided that they did not want to be held individually accountable for our continuing presence in Iraq. That decision speaks far louder than their decision to actually fund our forces there and the Iraqi reconstruction.

What a difference a year makes! In the fall of 2002, the administration was positively gleeful about forcing Congress to go on record to authorize the coming war, and Democrats from swing states or districts knew they voted no at their own peril. This week no such pressure was forthcoming. Those Republicans who live by the wedge issue understand when they could die by it, too. There was simply no percentage in compelling members to vote yes on a floundering occupation that could easily grow far worse.

It's instructive, though, that opponents of the occupation weren't exactly clamoring to be recorded against it either. Only old Robert Byrd stood on the Senate floor and shouted no when the vote was taken, but Byrd has been casting recorded votes since the waning days of the Roman Republic, and it's a hard habit to break.

What was striking Monday was that Byrd's colleagues were scuttling away from all sides of this debate, and it's not hard to understand why. The administration's handling of both the war and occupation has been so deeply flawed that it has created a situation to which not only its own policy but all the existing alternatives are clearly inadequate. Bush and his neos have given us a kind of Gothic horror version of Goldilocks, in which the policy alternatives are either too big or too small, while their own is just wrong.

Plainly, the U.S. force in Iraq is spread too thin to protect our own troops, the employees of international aid agencies and those Iraqis who have cast their lot with the new order. But there's no political support, either in the United States or Iraq, for increasing the number of U.S. troops there, and rightly so. It's not just that more troops means more targets. It's also that any such act would be viewed as a step back from Iraqi sovereignty, which would only further inflame the situation there.

Those who argued that the administration needed international approval for a war against Saddam Hussein -- the better, in part, to de-Americanize the occupation -- have been all too grimly vindicated. The problem is the occupation has proved so rocky that it's hard to envision the United Nations rushing into Iraq if we now admit we fear to tread there. Bush's decisions -- to wage a unilateral war and exercise unilateral political power during the post-Hussein reconstruction -- have not merely failed in themselves but have dimmed the prospects for more sustainable multinational alternatives.

Historians will have to determine the precise mix of White House hubris, xenophobia and mistrust of allies that contributed to our determination to hold sole control in post-Hussein Iraq. (Of course, the anti-Americanism rampant among many of our longtime allies played a role, too, but anyone with a long memory -- one that goes back at least three years -- can recall a time when the United States actually had the respect of the global community.) Now a new factor has popped up for historians' future consideration when they ponder why we wanted the occupation to ourselves. It turns out that Paul Bremer, our man in Baghdad, has decreed that come next year Iraq shall have a flat tax on individuals and businesses of 15 percent.

It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Is Iraq to become a laboratory for all those right-wing brainstorms that have gone nowhere in this country but that we are free to impose there during our short-order mandate? While we're at it, we could also outlaw stem cell research and elevate Charles Pickering to the Baghdad bench.

Already, the administration is beginning to blame its critics at home for its problems in Iraq. The criticisms voiced by the Democratic presidential candidates, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Georgetown students last week, send "a very unsettling message to Iraqis that our elections might decide their future." But it was Wolfowitz, along with a handful of others, who so inextricably linked America's future -- on which, the last time I looked, Americans had a right to vote -- to a disastrous policy in Iraq.

And it wasn't Democratic critics who forced a Republican-run Senate to cast an unrecorded vote on the occupation. It was Republicans, who voted for the funding but who lack all confidence in the president's chosen course.
Please welcome Blogs Canada: Officially Unofficial to the League of Liberals
Officially Unofficial has voted and is officially a member. Blogs Canada posts on everything from Farting Fish to Canadian Prescription Drugs and is among the TOP BLOGS of Canada. Welcome Blogs Canada: Officially Unofficial to the League of Liberals and update those blogrolls.

Welcome to the Future

Don't Trust Government
The independent commission set up to investigate the Sept. 11 attacks is threatening to use subpoenas to get documents that the White House has so far refused to give up. This is stonewalling and a cover-up.

The president, at his recent news conference, referred to his daily intelligence briefings and said, in his own muddled way, that if they were made public, the people who prepared them would somehow be inhibited in preparing future intelligence briefings.

That is so illogical it beggars reply. These briefings are written in summary form. It's not as if they quote Serge, Russian President Vladimir Putin's butler. They don't quote anybody. No harm at all would be done if they were made public, except on some occasions to embarrass the president by revealing the fact that he had information and didn't act on it.

I had an off-the-record interview years ago with the man who prepared the president's daily intelligence briefing. He explained in detail how it's prepared. This was during the first Bush presidency, after the first Gulf War. The current president's father had used as an excuse to rush American troops to Saudi Arabia the idea that the Iraqi forces in Kuwait were about to invade the kingdom.

So I asked the guy, who had talked about his access to all the latest satellite imagery, "Did you at any time see any evidence that Iraqi troops were massing for an invasion of Saudi Arabia?"

"Off the record?" he said as a reminder.

"Off the record," I replied.

"No," he said.

So, 13 years later, you can know that two President Bushes have led this country into war in the Persian Gulf on false pretenses. It's no wonder the White House loves secrecy so much. The wonder is that the American people are so tolerant. It's also no surprise that some folks refer to oil as "the devil's tears."

What Rudyard Kipling popularized as the "great game" is afoot again. World demand for oil is rising, and the world supply of oil is static. It won't be many years before the situation will get sticky and hairy. The United States wants to be positioned militarily in the Persian Gulf (hence the Iraq wars) and around the Caspian Sea (hence Afghanistan). Of course, the Russians are no fools. They just opened a Russian military base about 30 miles from an American military base in the Caspian Sea area. And they are keeping their hands in the Persian Gulf area with strong relations with Iran.

I don't pretend to know what is going on in the world's mahogany-paneled back rooms, but I do know you can discard as disinformation practically every word uttered by the federal government in regard to foreign policy. What government officials say is blarney for public consumption. The real reasons usually involve money, oil, other valuable resources and power relationships.

The American people don't really control their own government. Until they realize this and decide to take it back by electing honest men and women who can't be bought by corporations and other special interests, they will go on supplying the blood and money for the great game that yields great profits only to the few.

None of the young men and women who have died in Iraq, nor those who are yet to die, will make a penny profit from the war. Those profits will go to multinational corporations as the Bush administration auctions off the Iraqi people's country and resources.

Forgive me if this sounds cynical, but you ought to take note of how easily things like Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and weapons of mass destruction just disappear from the president's speeches. You should ask why the White House won't cooperate with the independent commission, why it won't reveal the notes that went into its energy bill, and why so many other things are kept secret.

The American Revolution was not fought so that people could be passive and uninformed citizens. You can be that in a dictatorship. To be free, you must be an informed, skeptical, inquiring citizen.
by Charlie Reese

SEC: More firms to face charges in fund probe

More firms are likely to be charged in the burgeoning scandal surrounding the mutual fund industry, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division told Congress Tuesday.
Stephen Cutler, testifying about the wide-ranging investigations into the management of the $7 trillion mutual fund business, said the SEC plans to send notification to some firms this week that SEC investigators intend to file charges.

He said they had already sent notification to one firm regarding possible abuses, and said more than 100 others were being scrutinized to see if they gave the proper volume discounts to customers. He did not name any of the companies.

Cutler's remarks came in testimony before the House Subcommittee on capital markets, insurance and government sponsored enterprises, which also heard testimony from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has launched several investigations of misdeeds on Wall Street.

Spitzer argued the compliance departments at many of the mutual firms need to be overhauled because they have proven ineffective. "They have utterly betrayed the American public," Spitzer said.

The testimony followed a Monday hearing in which senators sharply questioned the response of federal regulators to alleged trading abuses that were widespread within the mutual fund industry and among brokers that siphon money from ordinary investors.

Choices present themselves for the League of Liberals
Here are a few for now.
A Legal Victory for Clarefied and Death by Invitation
Cosmic Iguana's Deadly Garage Sale
Gotham City 13 cites That ol Bush Admin and joins the League
Is the Philosophical Scrivner a Geek?
or a virgin?
What to do with the NASCAR DADS? asks Maha and Censoring for the Gipper
Linda Tripp on MTV that's an 18 Minute Gap that should get your attention
Rick has new diners at his Cafe Americain are you on the A list?
Relax go surf and see on the healing waters of the Indigo Ocean
Take the Oxy out of Oxymoron
Take the poll at SKBubba and remember Rabin the recipie at the Poison Kitchen
Welcome to the Future with a Cup O Joe
Return of Poison Rush has Churchill spinning in his grave _ the untold costs of war


Civilian contractor workers in IRAQ as many as 20 Thousand - Death Toll Unknown

A Private Army Grows Around the U.S. Mission in Iraq and Around the World
In Iraq, private contractors do just about everything a soldier would do. They sling Spam in mess tents. They tote guns along base perimeters. They shoot. They get shot. Sometimes they get killed. And it's not just in Iraq, but around the world - in conflict zones from Liberia to Kosovo to Afghanistan - that the United States is putting hired help behind the front lines to ease the burden of its overworked armed forces. By paying civilians to handle military tasks, the Bush administration is freeing up U.S. troops to fight. But the use of contractors also hides the true costs of war.

Their dead aren't added to official body counts. Their duties - and profits - are hidden by close-mouthed executives who won't give details to Congress. And as their coffers and roles swell, companies are funneling earnings into political campaigns and gaining influence over military policy - even getting paid to recommend themselves for lucrative contracts. For the civilians handling these soldierly jobs, the risks are high.

A contractor near the Iraqi city of Fallujah died and an American engineer was wounded when their vehicles came under attack Monday - possibly by U.S. soldiers, said the British-based company, European Landmine Solutions. U.S. officials said their soldiers weren't responsible. The chief military contractor in Iraq, Kellogg, Brown & Root, has had three workers killed in Iraq, two of whom died in ambushes. Another top U.S. military contractor, DynCorp, saw three of its workers killed in an ambush by Palestinians in the West Bank this month. In Afghanistan, two civilian contractors working for the CIA were slain in an ambush Saturday.

As the United States slashes the size of its standing army from 2.1 million in 1990 to 1.4 million now, the Pentagon began running out of soldiers to handle postwar violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo while facing threats elsewhere.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued wars could still be fought without boosting the number of soldiers by outsourcing just about everything except battlefield gunning. Under U.S. employ in Iraq, American companies turn profits while operating missile defense batteries, piloting unmanned aerial vehicles and snapping satellite pictures of bombing targets.

The machine-gun toting guards who shadow Afghan President Hamid Karzai and L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, are private-sector workers, as are those who built and operate the cavernous white mess tent on the base of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad.

There, a $3 million contract with Kellogg, Brown & Root paid for the tent's construction and the Bangladeshi and Indian cooks who feed 4,000 troops daily. One soldier breakfasting inside the tent, a nine-year veteran, said she's been sent to patrol Baghdad since contractors took her job as a cook. With Kellogg, Brown & Root handling everything from mail delivery to bug control on U.S. bases in Iraq and around the world, plenty of other soldiers are finding themselves on the front lines.

Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution military analyst, estimates there is one contractor for every 10 foreign soldiers in Iraq - 10 times the private involvement in the Gulf War.

Worldwide, private military companies earn about $100 billion in yearly government contracts, Singer believes. Ninety private military companies are listed on the Web site for the Center for Public Integrity. In comparison, the U.S. defense budget is about $380 billion this year, excluding emergency spending, and is expected to rise to more than $400 billion.

Some of the firms working in Iraq are huge, politically connected conglomerates like Halliburton - corporate parent of Kellogg, Brown & Root and formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. Others are little known, like Erinys, a security firm chocked with former South African special forces that will train 6,500 Iraqis to guard oil installations.

Contractors' deaths aren't counted among the tally of more than 350 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. No one is sure how many private workers have been killed, or, indeed, even how many are toiling in Iraq for the U.S. government. Estimates range from under 10,000 to more than 20,000 - which could make private contractors the largest U.S. coalition partner ahead of Britain's 11,000 troops.
The Reagan Truth - WTF is it NOW?
The NRO is Pathetic - Dohiyi Mir
blunted on reality - The End of the World
Windfall - Hell for Halliburton
Disconnect? - Happy Furry Puppy Story Time
Crappy Porn? - Shock and Awe
All Fact's and Opinions on Left Wing Media?
Mad Kane has the Spinning Song and
Pen-Elayne is Spinnin
different strings - Bush is a NITHING
Futurballa has a new gallery
Meet the NeoCons on Cup O' Joe
Indigo is NaNo
SpeedKill from Bozeman has his own Roundup
A Byrd in the hand is worth 200 Bushes - Sick of Bush
Arms and the Man - Sabotage
Election Day - at Rick's Cafe
Chomsky Soundbites And Then
Art Spies? - the Estimated Prophet
Rebel War - A Changin' Times

Bush's buddies clean up

Major contributors to US President George Bush's election war chest have been awarded around US$8 billion in contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Washington-based US Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported on October 30. Companies that coughed up a total of at least $500,000 to elect Bush have benefited.

According to CPI, most of the 10 largest contracts went to companies that employed former high-ranking government officials, or have executives with close ties to members of Congress and even the agencies awarding their contracts. Major contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan were awarded by the Bush administration without competitive bids.

Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR topped the list with more than $2.3 billion in contracts to support the US military and restore Iraq's oil industry. Halliburton was headed by Vice-President Dick Cheney before he was elected in 2000. Cheney is still on the company's payroll.

Bechtel was second with a $1 billion contract to rebuild Iraq's utilities, telecommunications, railways, schools and other infrastructure. Bechtel has close ties with senior Republicans.

The CPI's analysis of contractor political donations showed that the top 10 contractors contributed $11 million to US political parties and candidates, with more than 60% going to the Republicans, since 1990.



U.S. Contractors Reap the Windfalls of Post-war Reconstruction

Winning Contractors

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2003 — More than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies donated more money to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush—a little over $500,000—than to any other politician over the last dozen years, the Center found.

Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subsidiary of Halliburton—which Vice President Dick Cheney led prior to being chosen as Bush's running mate in August 2000—was the top recipient of federal contracts for the two countries, with more than $2.3 billion awarded to the company. Bechtel Group, a major government contractor with similarly high-ranking ties, was second at around $1.03 billion.

However, dozens of lower-profile, but well-connected, companies shared in the reconstruction bounty. Their tasks ranged from rebuilding Iraq's government, police, military and media to providing translators for use in interrogations and psychological operations. There are even contractors to evaluate the contractors. (See company list.)

Nearly 60 percent of the companies had employees or board members who either served in or had close ties to the executive branch for Republican and Democratic administrations, for members of Congress of both parties, or at the highest levels of the military.

The results of the Center's six-month investigation provide the most comprehensive list to date of American contractors in the two nations that were attacked in Washington's war on terror. Based on the findings, it did not appear that any one government agency knew the total number of contractors or what they were doing. Congressional sources said they hoped such a full picture would emerge from the General Accounting Office, which has begun investigating the postwar contracting process amid allegations of fraud and cronyism


Why do Republicans make more money that you do?

SEC Finds Illegal Fund Trading Survey Discloses After-Hours Deals - Monday, November 3, 2003 - A quarter of the nation's largest brokerage houses helped clients trade mutual funds after hours, a practice that is illegal, a Securities and Exchange Commission survey has found.

The survey, to be disclosed at a Senate governmental affairs subcommittee hearing Monday, found that after-hours trading and other abuses were widespread in the $7 trillion mutual fund industry, shortchanging a majority of fund customers. Half of the 88 largest mutual fund companies had arrangements that allowed select customers to use a trading technique known as "market timing," a legal short-term trading strategy that exploits the fact that mutual fund prices are set once a day but stock prices change continually.
Around the web with the League of Liberals
Natalie Davis at ALL FACT'S AND OPINIONS covers Justice for HMO Members.
Oppose the parade of Right Wing Judges join ARMACT Alerts
Is Halliburton protected at the expense of injured workers? - see Arms and the Man
Do we only protect the white troops? asks Blunted on Reality
Clarified asks "What does a Lawyer look like?"
Iraq price tag to hit $200 Billion? - The Cosmic Iguana
Cup O' Joe says they want us LINED UP AND SHOT
Democratic Veteran covers yet more Republican whining.
Different Strings finds Wolfowitz Over the Line
Dohiyi Mir has a Quote from Cheney we all should read and take to heart.
Futurballa has his own take on Ecosystem fluctuations.
The Happy Furry Puppy runs down the Conservative Columnists.
Hell for Halliburton takes on the Mutual Fund Inside Traders
Indigo Ocean strings it all together
Mad Kane has the Spinning Song and The Felonious Elephants finds Lincoln spinning in his grave
That hissing sound is Dennis 'the menace' Miller's ego inflating on TPRS
Pen-Elayne covers the Strange Case of Stephen Kaye
The Philosophical Schrivner is all over the E-mail dilemma
163 Million Dollars for LASSER of Prudential and he could not resist stealing a million on top of that?
Should we baptise Patriots - see Shock and Awe
Sick of Bush on the STALKER T-Rex on the Party of Hatemongers The Mahablog on Bush's Down Day The Poison Kitchen offers and invitation to Canada
The difference between CEO's and CIA agents? check here: The Spy Game
Nobody should have to go a day without WTF is it NOW!?
Read Rush Limgbaughtomy for the latest on the growing Mutual Fund Scandal