Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bring the Dollars Home

They may not be able to end the war in Iraq, but Senate Democratic freshman are going after the war profiteers. Here are portions from a press release Senator Jim Webb, one of those newcomers, put out today:

Senate Democratic freshmen today introduced a bill to establish an independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting to investigate U.S. wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Commission would significantly increase transparency and accountability and generate important solutions for systematic contracting problems, potentially saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Commission will study and investigate the impact of the government's growing reliance on civilian contractors to perform wartime functions. It will assess the extent of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of wartime contracts, and the extent to which those responsible have been held accountable....

"We are outsourcing this war in ways we've never seen," [said] Webb. "Defrauding the government of millions of taxpayer dollars should not be considered 'the cost of doing business." It's time for Congress to stand up on behalf of the American people and say: 'We want our money back.'"

"During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt said, 'I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster.' And so Missouri's own Senator Harry Truman created a committee that investigated and uncovered millions of dollars in wasteful, wartime spending," Senator McCaskill said.

"We know that the cost plus contracts used in Iraq and Afghanistan are nearly blank checks to private defense contractors, primed for waste, fraud and abuse. We need a new investigatory body, inspired by the Truman Committee, to protect our tax dollars and bring better accountability to the way we do business while at war," continued McCaskill....

In Tuesday's USA Today story entitled "Largest Iraq Contract Rife with Errors," government auditors reviewing contractor KBR Inc.'s annual cost estimate for services in Iraq discovered that the company proposed $110 million in charges for housing, food, water, laundry and other services on bases that had been shut down. (

An audit conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found that the Parsons Company received $186 million over the past three years to construct 142 health-care centers in Iraq. As of May 10, only 15 centers had been completed--and only eight were open to the public...

There are now more contractors (180,000) than military personnel (156, 247) in Iraq. A list of companies contracted in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom does not exist. Figures on how much the government is paying contractors does not exist.

No doubt, tight-with-a-tax-dollar, fiscally responsible Republicans will rush to support this bill.

Posted by David Corn at July 18, 2007 04:45 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

Seems like a step in the right direction.


David B. Benson said...

276 million since yesterday.

According to the war cost counter. Sounds as if it's only accounting for 1/2 or 1/3 of the actual costs...

capt said...

Notes and Sources Counter

The Cost of Iraq War calculator is set to reach $456 billion September 30, 2007, the end of fiscal year 2007. The Cost of Iraq War calculator is occasionally reset based on new information and new allocations of funding. The numbers include military and non-military spending, such as reconstruction. Spending only includes incremental costs, additional funds that are expended due to the war. For example, soldiers' regular pay is not included, but combat pay is included. Potential future costs, such as future medical care for soldiers and veterans wounded in the war, are not included. It is also not clear whether the current funding will cover all military wear and tear. It also does not account for the Iraq War being deficit-financed and that taxpayers will need to make additional interest payments on the national debt due to those deficits.

The media (and others) sometimes cite a figure that is in excess of our estimate. However, the number cited by the media may include not just the Iraq War, but the Afghanistan War and for enhanced security abroad. Our figure is only covering the cost of the Iraq War as it relates to the U.S. federal budget (and does not include costs to others or other countries or any economic impact costs to Americans).

This number is based on an analysis of the legislation in which Congress has allocated money for war so far and research by the Congressional Research Service (latest report) which has access to Department of Defense financial reports. An article offered by the Strauss Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information offers greater insight into the problems of truly knowing how much has been spent on the Iraq War or other military operations. Other NPP information on the cost of the Iraq War includes the NPP Database Trade-offs Page; a discussion of the most recent administration request not yet passed by Congress; and the Local Costs of the Iraq War which includes the total cost allocated to date for numerous towns and counties across the country. This list is also more regularly updated with new locations than the list of the Cost of Iraq War calculator. See also the NPP Charts page which offers comparative cost and casualty information on wars

*****end of clip*****

A bit confusing but their method is explained at the link.


David B. Benson said...

Peter W. Galbraith, The Way to Go in Iraq

Tomdispatch or Asia Times Online...

David B. Benson said...

There went another 25 million...

capt said...

"Misunderstanding arising from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace." : Lester B. Pearson


What our leaders and pundits never let slip is that the terrorists -- whatever else they might be -- might also be rational human beings ; which is to say that in their own minds they have a rational justification for their actions. Most terrorists are people deeply concerned by what they see as social, political, or religious injustice and hypocrisy, and the immediate grounds for their terrorism is often retaliation for an action of the United States . . .: William Blum


He is not strong and powerful who throweth people down; but he is strong who witholdeth himself from anger: Muhammad


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

A Violent, 'Normal' Day in Baghdad

Photojournalist Captures the Troop Surge Firsthand, as Soldiers Navigate the Perils of Baghdad

July 16, 2007 —

More than 30,000 U.S. troops are trying to tame the violence in Baghdad as part of President Bush's troop surge.

American soldiers describe the constant stress of living in a war zone, voice their frustrations over the politics with the war strategy in Washington, and are seen as they watch an armored vehicle burn with six of their fellow troops trapped inside, in a rare and raw look at what American troops are experiencing on the front lines in Baghdad.

ABC News has an exclusive look at that campaign, a portion of which was filmed by British photographer Sean Smith of the Guardian newspaper, who was embedded with the U.S. Army's Second Infantry Division. (Click on the video in the player on the right to see a clip of what Smith filmed in Iraq.)

Smith spent two weeks with members of Apache Company and filmed them as they went on daily routine investigations, including one of a bomb making factory hidden in a private home. Soon after they arrived an explosion hit and an Iraqi soldier and several neighbors, including children, were hit.

The U.S. soldiers set up a first aid station and provided medical assistance in what was a typical day for the troops.

"I challenge anybody in Congress to do my rotation," said Spc. Michael Vassell of Apache Company. "They don't have to do anything, they just come hang out with me and go home at the times I go home, and come stay here 15 months with me."

Apache Company was sent to Iraq in June 2006 for a 12-month rotation which has since been extended to a 15-month tour.

"It's a joke. We will have spent 14 months in contact, basically fighting all 14 months," said Cpl. Joshua Lake. "Our battalion got right to Baghdad & first week we were in Baghdad we lost two guys in our battalion & it hasn't stopped since."

'We've Got an IED'

In another instance of Smith's reporting, Lake's platoon responded to a Bradley armored vehicle being hit by a roadside bomb, leaving six American soldiers and an Iraqi translator burning to death inside.

Lake and his fellow soldiers then raided a nearby house to search for the attackers. He said on a day like that, troops are given four to six hour breaks after these kinds of grueling assignments, which leaves little time to truly calm down.

"We got grenades going off, we've got an IED blowing up your vehicle & and then you are expected to go back in those four to six, four to five hours & and relax!" he said. "You just don't have time to do it. Your body never gets to come down, you're always on that heightened sense of alertness."

Two days later, Lake returned to the same neighborhood as his unit raided a house looking for weapons and insurgents. But all they found was an old woman and her dogs; the woman was visibly distressed.

After spending two weeks with Apache Company in Baghdad, Smith noted, "That's what being a soldier in so-called battle situations is about. The abnormal becomes the normal."

The next day, U.S. soldiers spotted a suspicious car circling the block where the old woman also lives. They ordered the driver to stop, and when he did not they opened fire.

They tried, unsuccessfully, to revive him.

A woman is seen in the video footage telling troops the victim was a taxi driver who was coming to pick her up -- he was just looking for her house.

Smith said the troops first priority is to defend themselves as some questioned their place in the war. "The frustration is not, 'Look how difficult this is.' The frustration is 'Look how difficult this is and what exactly for?'" Smith said.

"Because we have people up there in Congress with the brain of a 2-year-old who don't know what they are doing -- they don't experience it. I challenge the president or anyone who has us for 15 months to ride alongside me," Vassell said. "I [would] do another 15 months if he comes out here and rides along with me every day for 15 months. I'll do 15 more months. They don't even have to pay me extra."

Gerald said...

I am extremely happy that Jim Webb beat Hitler Allen to win a Senate seat. Personally the victory shocked and awed me because our elections are rigged and Virginia is perceived by me as a true Nazi state.

Gerald said...

We can only dream

Gerald said...

Praying Each Day: July 19

Gerald said...

Do You Think Too Much?

Psychologist and author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema thinks some women obsess too much about appearance, relationships, health, etc. Here are her suggestions to keep worries in check:

Be yourself; don’t compare yourself to others.

Don’t let yourself believe the worst, but seek a brighter worldview.

Have fun, relax, listen to music, go for a walk, pray, meditate.

Aim only for realistic self-improvement, not impossible perfection.

Be brave. Do not fear failure.
Expand your circle of friends to include those who are positive and upbeat.

Forgive. Give up anger, hatred and the desire for revenge.

Let go of guilt. Do not let others make you feel guilty either.

Talk to a wise and trusted friend when and if necessary.

Your life is worth enjoying and living.

Which of you…covets many days to enjoy good? Keep your tongue from evil…Do good; seek peace. (Psalm 34:12-13,14)

Increase women’s self-esteem, Lord of Life.

Gerald said...

Standing Firm for Equality

She was a 24 year old black woman, a teacher on her way to play the organ at the First Colored Congregational Church. She tried to board a New York City streetcar, despite laws forbidding African Americans from using public transportation. She was beaten by the conductor and street car driver and, with the assistance of a police officer, thrown to the street.

The woman was Elizabeth Jennings; the year 1854; and New York City streetcar conductors and drivers used whips to keep blacks from riding streetcars. Legal redress was usually unsuccessful.

But the well off and well connected Jennings pursued her case. Her attorney was future president Chester A. Arthur. Judge William Rockwell of the Brooklyn Circuit Court ruled that “Colored persons…had the same rights as others.” A jury awarded Jennings about $250 damages.

Bigotry is always reprehensible.

Every woman, man and youngster is God’s well-loved child.

I took them up in My arms…I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love…I bent down to them and fed them. (Hosea 11:3,4)

Loving and sustaining Father, help us recognize that we are all members of the same family.

Gerald said...


The Bush administration, after publicly demanding that Musharraf rein in militants linked to al Qaida, on Wednesday threatened to launch attacks into Pakistani territory if it sees fit.

"We certainly do not rule out options, and we retain the option especially of striking actionable targets," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "But it is clearly of the utmost importance to go in there and deal with the problem in the tribal areas."

Gerald said...

A Cry Before the Dark Face of God

capt said...

Valerie Plame's Lawsuit Dismissed

A federal judge dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration Thursday, eliminating one of the last courtroom remnants of the leak scandal.

Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to leak her identity in 2003. Plame said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments. Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.


capt said...

New Thread