Operation Iraqi Cash Cow takes teamwork

War profiteering takes teamwork. It takes high-ranking politicians to ensure contracts are only accessible to the privileged. It takes aggressive corporations to seek out the opportunities, and it takes members of Congress with no integrity and no shame to do nothing about it. Currently, all these factors are present in the Iraq reconstruction. The situation is ripe for the fleecing of taxpayer dollars.

The impropriety of operations in Iraq is obscured by the Bush administration efforts to prevent the release of contract information and foil Freedom of Information Act requests. Gradually, however, reports are coming back from Iraq. For instance, it was discovered that currently employed Halliburton charged the U.S. government $2.65 for a gallon of gasoline. That same gasoline could be purchased from the Iraqi state oil company for 97 cents per gallon.

By the way, Vice President Dick Cheney was a former CEO of Halliburton. This in itself is not illegal but it is highly circumspect considering Halliburton was awarded a no-bid contract, and Cheney refuses to reveal his energy task force and still receives paychecks from Halliburton. Not to mention Bechtel, which has a $900 million no-bid contract and numerous, highly influential contacts within the Bush administration. Additionally, numerous members of Iraq’s governing council, which decides who rebuilds what, have won large reconstruction contracts. Most appallingly, the U.S. House cut out a Senate measure to retroactively punish war profiteers in the final version of the $87 billion Iraq spending bill. The measure won near-unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate, making the corporate influence in the House particularly reprehensible.

The actions of corporations and politicians certainly make it appear that cronyism is rampant. However, the U.S. public cannot be entirely sure until information is released. Meanwhile, Iraq has turned into a cash cow. The reasons for going into Iraq have been seriously undermined and so far all U.S. taxpayers have to show for its efforts is a multibillion-dollar sinkhole and a few hundred dead U.S. soldiers. We hope the U.S. efforts will be worth it.