November 05, 2003


Restore Honor to the White House: Defeat Bush in 2004

Bill Gallagher, Niagara Falls Reporter: "Understand the greed, self-dealing, conflicts of interest, squandering of taxpayers' money, waste, raids on the public treasury -- all wrapped in a litany of lies -- and you have a handle on how the Bush administration operates, and how money greases this despicable machine. "

By Bill Gallagher
"To have what we have, we speak not what we mean." --
William Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure."

DETROIT -- Understand the greed, self-dealing,
conflicts of interest, squandering of taxpayers'
money, waste, raids on the public treasury -- all
wrapped in a litany of lies -- and you have a handle
on how the Bush administration operates, and how money
greases this despicable machine.

It is impossible to keep up with the political-insider
maneuvers, influence-peddling, favoritism and cronyism
underway in the slimiest administration in more than a

And for Bush and company, everything is done
deliberately and with clear purpose, controlled or
manipulated in fine detail. Accidents, coincidences
and surprises simply don't happen. Only the truth
threatens this operation.

The chaos in Iraq, with its $87 billion price tag for
the American people, has become a feeding trough for
corporate pigs with intimate ties to the Bush

The rebuilding of Iraq is riddled with pork-barrel
politics, and Bush friends and cronies of our Iraqi
puppets are wallowing in the slop of American cash.
The "nation-building" is a disgraceful means for a
handful of corporations and individuals to make big,
quick bucks and hide the greed as "necessary" to make
Iraq safe and peaceful.

The money drain is staggering. By the end of 2003, the
war and occupation in Iraq and continuing expenses in
Afghanistan could top $120 billion, all in direct
payments. The U.S. taxpayers are stuck with that
entire tab, paid with borrowed money and debt our
children will have to endure. Other nations are
kicking in a modest $13 billion, mostly in the form of

When our government ignores and insults most of the
rest of the world, we shouldn't be too surprised when
they don't jump in to help our Iraq protectorate.

Halliburton gets good news from the Pentagon that the
company's no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq's oil
production will continue into next year. The company
Vice President Dick Cheney once headed has already
raked in $1.59 billion and Halliburton's future and
good fortune in Iraq are assured.

Cheney and his old outfit insist everything is on the
up and up, and that thoughts of favoritism and
collusion are just so unfair. Halliburton is charging
the U.S. government $1.59 for each gallon of imported
fuel. The Iraqi national oil company says it can get
the same stuff for 98 cents a gallon.

Once you get over the incongruous notion that we have
to import fuel into an oil-rich nation, you then have
to buy Halliburton's convoluted, contorted explanation
that the price is fair and the company has this
special expertise in buying the imported oil.
Profiteering, anyone? Perish the thought.

Chevron, the oil giant that once named a tanker for
Condoleezza Rice, is now merged with Texaco and the
combined company is one of the first to dip into
Iraq's post-war oil wealth.

National Security Adviser Rice, a leading advocate of
the war and propagator of the "Iraq is a nuclear
threat" myth, was a Chevron director between the Bush
I and Bush II administrations. Like many in the Bush
crowd, she sees public service and serving the
interests of corporations, especially in the energy
industry, as a seamless garment. Work a little for
one, then the other and back again. It's all
essentially the same interests, and the money's great.

ChevronTexaco was selected by the Iraq State Oil
Marketing Organization as one of six international oil
companies to purchase Iraqi oil. Nearly 50 companies
competed for the prized purchasing rights for 10
million barrels. Lucky ChevronTexaco got to suck up 2
million barrels, the first "Texas Tea" from Iraq to be
sold free of sanctions since 1990.

But wait. The Iraqis made their own decision. No
favoritism here. It's just coincidence. Sure. Iraqi
exile leader Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon darling and
source of a stream of phony information, has his hands
on all kinds of deals now. From oil to
telecommunications networks, Chalabi is dishing out
the goodies for his cronies in Iraq and favored U.S.
corporations. Money and greed are the driving forces.
Rebuilding Iraq is an afterthought.

The Pentagon, through the Coalition Provisional
Authority, the colonial government, handed the
contract to build a wireless phone network for
government officials and aid workers in the Baghdad
area to MCI.

You recall that MCI used to be called WorldCom and the
company went belly-up in one of those accounting fraud
scandals that ruined so many lives. MCI had next to no
experience in building wireless networks, but got the
no-bid contract nonetheless. Chalabi's buddies and
Motorola, a Pentagon pet, got another big chunk of the
action for permanent communications.

The fat cats who are cashing in certainly paid
up-front for the privilege. Major donors to George W.
Bush's election campaigns and other Republican causes
are the big beneficiaries of the public dollars being
spent there.

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit research
group, tracked more than 70 U.S. firms and contractors
involved in reconstruction projects in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Since 1990, those companies and their
employees have donated $49 million to national
campaigns, with most of that money going to the GOP.

President Bush topped the list, getting more than
$500,000 for his 2000 campaign from the companies that
are now sucking up the tax dollars.

The report is the result of a six-month investigation,
and notes that the Pentagon, State Department and
Agency for International Development were hardly eager
to provide complete and accurate information about the
contracts. Much of what the Center for Public
Integrity did learn was squeezed out using the Freedom
of Information Act.

The New York Times says this first comprehensive look
at companies involved in Iraq "provides evidence that
the process for handling big contracts has often been
secretive, chaotic and favorable to companies with
good political contracts."

The difficulty of sorting through the contracts, the
Times reports, "confirms that many, if not most, of
the contracts handed out for work in Iraq were awarded
through a process that was inscrutable to outsiders
and often without competitive bidding."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher defended
the way our money is being spent, saying with a
straight face, "The decisions are made by career
procurement officials. There is a separation, a wall
between them and political-level questions when
they're doing the contracts."

Rewarding their friends and political supporters is
what this White House does best. For example, the deal
now being cooked to give Boeing a contract to lease
aircraft for use as refueling tankers, a little
procurement shuffle that could bring the giant weapons
manufacturers a cool $100 billion dollars.

New York Times columnist and conservative pundit David
Brooks smells the pork: "This deal isn't just shady --
it's the Encyclopedia Britannica of shady. It's as if
somebody spent years trying to gather every sleazy
aspect of modern Washington and cram it all into one
legislative effort."

Leasing rather than buying is the key to the deal that
will give Boeing a sweetheart contract and provide
jobs in some key congressional districts, but will
stick the taxpayers with a bill $5.7 billion more
costly than actually buying the planes.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert from Illinois, home of
Boeing's headquarters, is a big supporter of the plan
to squander billions. Over in the Senate,
Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens included
the lease deal in a defense spending bill. That was
one month after he took in $22,000 in campaign
donations from 30 Boeing executives at a Seattle

The Office of Management and Budget and Pentagon
budget analysts initially were howling, saying the
planes were way too expensive and leasing a bad

But then the White House got involved and the
opposition went poof. The Washington Post reports that
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, acting under
specific instructions from the president, intervened
in the dispute and told the nay-sayers to shut up and
sign onto the corporate welfare deal.

It will take years to sort through it all. But, in the
end, we'll find out just how the Bush administration
sacrificed public good for private gain in Iraq. When
and if the violence ever subsides over there, teams of
independent government auditors will have the enormous
task of trying to figure out who got the money and
where it was spent.

The downing of an American helicopter from ground
fire, resulting in at least 15 deaths, shows how bad
the situation is in Iraq. More have been killed after
the declaration of the end of "major hostilities" than

In a repulsive act of political cowardice, the
president disavowed any connection with the "Mission
Accomplished" banner on the deck of an aircraft
carrier when he delivered his end-of-the-war message.
Instead, "Top Gun" turned into pop gun, and he blamed
others for his own triumphalism.

"The 'Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put
up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln saying
their mission was accomplished," the president
smirked. What a pitiful lie, and with Honest Abe's
name in the same sentence!

Later, a spokeswoman admitted the White House, which
always controls every detail of the president's
appearances, had produced the banner and placed it on
the deck.

George W. Bush tries to spare himself from political
embarrassment by blaming brave men and women who risk
their own lives. What a man!

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former
Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit
for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is
Niagara Falls Reporter

Posted by richard at November 5, 2003 11:50 AM