Crony Contracts and the Bush Administration

Author: Ravish123477
Private contracts are handed out by the federal government in droves these days. However, the use of private contractors is an old tool of the government. Private contractors were used during the removal of Native Americans from the southeast. In 1831 thirteen thousand Choctaws made the long, forced trek from their home in Mississippi to the arid prairies of the mid-west. Howard Zinn said, in his book A People's History of the United States, "The army was supposed to organize their trek, but it turned over its job to private contractors who charged the government as much as possible, gave the Indians as little as possible. Everything was disorganized. Food disappeared. Hunger came."

When the Creeks of Alabama made their forced trek to the same arid lands, private contractors were again used. Zinn writes of their trek, "Private contracts were made for the march, the same kind that had failed for the Choctaws. Again, delays and lack of food, shelter, clothing, blankets, medical attention. Again, old rotting steamboats and ferries, crowded beyond capacity, taking them across the Mississippi."

Creek warriors who had been seduced to fight against the Seminoles of Florida in exchange for being able to stay on their land in Alabama were instead forced westward. The warriors and their families were herded on an old steamship called Monmouth. Zinn cited a New Orleans newspaper account of the time, "The fearful responsibility for this vast sacrifice of human life rests on the contractors."

Flash forward to the present. Private contractors are used more now than ever. According to a New York Times article the "most successful" contracts are given not to "those doing the best work" but to those who have the right connections within the Bush administration. The Bush administration has outsourced everything from emergency management to the maintenance of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Privatizing Emergency Management

A Baton Rouge company lacking evacuation experience was paid $500,000 by FEMA to handle the emergency preparation and evacuation of New Orleans. The company's name is Innovative Emergency Management. IEM was a big contributor to President Bush's campaigns, and the Republican National Committee in general.

IEM is a client of The Livingston Group, a firm created by former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, a Republican from Louisiana. According to a December 15, 2001 article in the National Journal, IEM specializes in "chemical and biological emergency response." The founder of IEM is Madhu Beriwal, who had "no known experience in hurricane evacuations," said journalist Greg Palast in his documentary on Hurricane Katrina.

IEM's website expresses condolences on their website to the families of Hurricane Katrina victims, but acknowledges no regrets about their handling of the evacuation of New Orleans. Instead they claim to be "an honest broker." Their website also contains veiled references to the privatization of emergency management and evacuation, "Over the last 20 years, Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. (IEM) has become one of the leading risk management companies in the US, providing services to private industry and government agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the US Department of Defense."

The New Orleans newspaper, The Times Picayune, published a July 20, 2004 article about the IEM hurricane preparation plan called Hurricane Pam. The article said that only evacuation by cars was planned if a hurricane should strike the city, but acknowledged that a third of New Orleans would left be behind. As many as 100,000 people lived in household which did not have a car.

Private Contractors in Iraq

There are 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, almost the number of U.S. forces, according to a military census conducted by Central Command. The Pentagon's previous estimate was 25,000. The number of contractors currently in Iraq is ten times the number in Kuwait during the Gulf War in 1991, which was estimated to be 9,200. The Labor Department's statistic show that since 2003 about 650 contractors have died in Iraq. The corporations with the most lucrative contracts are the biggest contributors to the Republican National Committee (RNC).

DynCorp International, based in Reston, Virginia, has around 1,500 employees in Iraq, including about 700 who help the Iraqi police force. DynCorp is a subsidiary of Computer Science Corporation, who acquired the company in March 2003. DynCorp gave over $100,000 to the RNC, and $7,500 to President Bush. Computer Science also gave over $100,000 to the RNC, and $10,250 to Bush. According to DynCorp's website they have had a contract with the Department of State's international Civilian Police Force since April 2004. They were granted a nine-month extension, valued at more than $318 million, which expires on May 31, 2007. The website also says the company is "responsible for recruiting, training, equipping and sustaining the 700-member U.S. contingent of trainers."

Another Virginia based company, Vinnell Corporation, has a lucrative contract with the government. Vinnell was founded by Albert Vinnell in 1931. It is now a subsidiary of the giant, Northrup Grumman. Vinnell has a history of government contracts in foreign countries. At the end of World War Two they had a contra ct with the government to ship supplies to Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist army in China. They have had contracts to build airbases in Pakistan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s. [find out exactly what they do in Iraq]

Still another Virginia based corporation has a government contract to operate in Iraq. L-3 Communications has two of its divisions in Iraq: Titan and MPRI [find out what it stands for]. Titan has 6,500 linguists in Iraq. MPRI has 500 employees in Iraq who are mentors to the Iraqi Defense Ministry (IDM). They provide strategic planning and budgeting, plus established the IDM's public affairs office.

L-3 Communications' website claims the corporation is a "prime contractor in Control and communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, government services, aircraft modernization and maintenance and has the broadest base of specialized products in the industry." The website also claims L-3 is a "major provider of homeland defense products and services for a variety of emerging markets."

Blackwater USA, a private security firm based in rural North Carolina, was co-founded by former Navy SEAL, Erik Prince, in 1997, and has over 1,000 employees in Iraq. Private security firms are the third largest contributor of international forces in Iraq. Private security firms do jobs the military did in previous wars. Industry experts estimate the Pentagon pays tens of billions of dollars to private security firms operating in Iraq. Erik Prince is the son of Edgar Prince, who co-founded the ultra-conservative Family Research Council with Gary Bauer. Erik's sister is the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. He interned in President George H.W. Bush's White House, and campaigned for Pat Buchanan in 1992.

Blackwater contributed $80,000 to the RNC a month before Bush's 2000 victory, and gave $2,100 to ex-Senator Rick Santorum's re-election campaign. Blackwater also gave money to ex-House majority leader Tom Delay, and contributed to Bush's 2004 campaign. Blackwater was granted no-bid contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and post-Katrina New Orleans. The company's website claims it is "the most comprehensive private tactical training facility in the United States."

Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton, has 50,000 employees in Iraq and Kuwait that run military supply lines and operate military bases. KBR is the largest contractor in Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney once headed up Houston-based Halliburton. According to a documentary by Public Broadcasting Corporation's Frontline, Halliburton has provided the U.S. Army $11.84 billion dollars in services since 2002. Halliburton is a huge contributor to the RNC, with over $700,000 in contributions, and $17,677 to President Bush alone.

Many critics of private security firms operating in Iraq refer to their employees as "mercenaries." In the 15th century, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote about mercenaries in his book, The Prince calling them, "useless and dangerous, and if anyone supports his state by the arms of mercenaries, he will never stand firm or sure, as they are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, faithless, bold amongst friends, cowardly amongst enemies, they have no fear of God, and keep no faith with men."

Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Washington Post did an exposé in February 2007 of the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. President Bush has spent more money on the US armed forces than any other American president. The Republican National Committee's (RNC) website points out that Bush has increased "defense spending by more than one-third – the most in a generation."

In a March 2, 2007 from Rep. Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, to Major General George Weightman, the former commander at Walter Reed, a memo is cited which was sent to Colonel Daryl Spencer, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Resource Management with the US Army Medical Command. The September 2006 memo concerned how the Bush administration's decision to privatize support systems at Walter Reed caused many "highly skilled and experienced personnel" to leave. Waxman noted that the memo said patient services "are at risk of mission failure."

According to Waxman's letter, Walter Reed gave a $120 million contract to IAP Worldwide Services to manage the facilities. "IAP is one of the companies who experienced problems delivering ice during the response to Hurricane Katrina," Waxman wrote. Waxman's letter also mentions the CEO of IAP worked for Halliburton, the company Vice President Cheney formerly led. Once again, a company with ties to the Bush administration was awarded a lucrative government contract.

A November 30, 2005 report compiled by the Veteran's Administration (VA) claimed it has been the "long-standing policy of the federal government has been to rely on the private sector for needed commercial services." The report cited Bush's President Management Agenda which included an initiative involving competitive outsourcing, "using the competitive process to determine whether the government or a private sector contractor should perform a particular commercial activity."
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