According to a new Congressional Budget Office report, one in every five dollars devoted to Iraq has gone to private contractors, who now have more people in Iraq than the U.S. military does. [The accompanying graphic depicts U.S. government obligations for contracts in the Iraq theater -- in billions of dollars.] The New York Times describes this as "a second, private, army...one whose roles and missions and even casualties among its work force have largely been hidden from public view."
As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Sen. Norm Coleman failed to hold a single hearing on the waste, fraud, and abuse that sabotaged the reconstruction of Iraq.
"Whenever Norm Coleman is put in charge of Minnesota tax dollars, you can be sure there are corporate special interests getting a big payday," declared Al Franken, Democratic challenger for the U.S. Senate seat that Coleman has held since 2003. "But it's simply unconscionable that he allowed our troops to be put at risk, just so that his cronies could cash in. Instead of being a watchdog, Norm Coleman was a lapdog – and, every day, we learn more about the cost of his inaction."
The New York Times reports: "The United States this year will have spent $100 billion on contractors in Iraq since the invasion in 2003, a milestone that reflects the Bush administration's unprecedented level of dependence on private firms for help in the war, according to a government report to be released Tuesday [Aug. 12, 2008].
"The Pentagon's reliance on outside contractors in Iraq is proportionately far larger than in any previous conflict, and it has fueled charges that this outsourcing has led to overbilling, fraud and shoddy and unsafe work that has endangered and even killed American troops."
A defense contracting expert, Peter Singer, noted, "We have just handed over functions to contractors in a very haphazard way."
And Sen. Byron Dorgan [D-N.D.] said what Al Franken has been saying for years: "It's unfathomable to me that we don't have a bipartisan investigative committee on contracting in Iraq."
This, like so many other Tales from the Oversight-Free Zone, took place while Chairman Coleman, who accepted campaign contributions from Halliburton -- described as "the largest Pentagon contractor in Iraq" -- sat idly by.
Coleman Took $4,000 From Halliburton's PAC
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2001 and 2002, Coleman's U.S. Senate campaign accepted four $1,000 contributions from Halliburton's political action committee. Hmm-m-m...
GoodBiz113's take: As any small-business subcontractor can attest, trying to do business with a federal agency can be challenging -- even to score a five- or six-figure deal. The multimillion- and multibillion-dollar no-bid contracts that the Bush administration has awarded Halliburton, Blackwater and other prime contractors is, point-blank, deplorable. It's time for a changing of the political guard -- in Congress and the White House -- to get our country back on a fiscally accountable, transparent and prosperous track for all.
SOURCES: Center for Responsive Politics, Congressional Budget Office, New York Times
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