Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The mind boggles

And I'm going to be talking about government bureaucracy here, for which the bar should be set appreciably high. Note that because this requires a higher level of mental strength to get past the 'ridiculosity quotient', I'm including a few links.

Today the Pentagon announced that they're ending their exclusive contract with Halliburton to provide support services for US troops deployed in Iraq. After pouring uncounted billions down a hole (no, really. I mean 'uncounted'. There's at least $8.8 billion unaccounted for.), they've decided to bid the jobs out to multiple contractors (including Halliburton) instead of just handing a sweetheart deal to the company formerly headed by one Vice President Dick 'Dick' Cheney.

Seems that someone finally got tired of shelling out $45 for a case of soda and $30 for a bag of laundry and having contaminated water supplied to shower systems on US bases, not to mention the litany of jobs that were supposed to be done for the Iraqi people that, 3 years after 'major combat operations' have ceased, still aren't done. And we're not talking about running fiber optic lines and satellite uplinks from Basra to Kurdistan (although they have those in the Green Zone, amazingly enough.) We're talking about repairing water treatment plants and power plants and refineries so that Iraq can start regular exports of its primary resource and so its people, floating on a sea of oil, don't have to pay gasoline prices that are 600% higher than
before the invasion. 11 contracts with Halliburton for the reconstruction will expire this fall with little to no progress made on them. That includes a $1.2 billion deal for oil reconstruction services.

But, regardless, as Army spokesman, Dave Foster, says: "The Iraqi reconstruction is winding down, so there is no need for new contracts to replace the old." You know, after all, if the job hasn't been getting done and the damned liberal media and Congressional busybodies keep asking about it and all, we figgered we might as well do something... like let the original fuck-ups bid again along with 3 other guys who might have done a better job in the first place. We're understanding like that.

Kellogg, Brown, and Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, has been squarely in the middle of many of the problems, but someone forgot to inform their company spokesperson: " By all accounts, KBR's logistical achievements in support of the troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan have been nothing short of amazing," said company spokeswoman Melissa Norcross.

All accounts, huh? You mean like these? Wait. How about these? No? Maybe these?

Meanwhile, Randy King, program manager for the Army, agreed yesterday. "Halliburton has done an outstanding job, under the circumstances," he said. He added that Pentagon leaders ultimately decided they did not want to have "all our eggs in one basket" because multiple contractors will give them better prices, more accountability and greater protection if one contractor fails to perform.

Really?!! Figured that one out all by yourself, did ya? Yer a genius! Genius, I say! Please, explain to us the mind-twisting qualities of being both a genius and a fucking idiot at the same time! It must be like the first person to discover that you can use your head for more than just a place to grow hair! You can use it... to pound nails into drywall, for example! That explanation wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that it's SOP for government contracting and plain, common sense, would it? I mean, bloated bureaucracies like our hideously overfunded Defense Department are supposed to be incompetent and hopelessly corrupt, but that's taking it a bit far, don't you think?

[From the Washington Post]: Known formally as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP, the contract "has expanded beyond what anyone could have imagined," said Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon's comptroller from 2001 until 2004 and now a vice president at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

Uh, no. No. I think quite a few of us were able to imagine pretty much everything that's going on right now. And said so. Quite loudly.

[Continuing from the Post]: "The KBR people themselves would point out that the challenges they had coming out of Iraq, over and above everything else they had to do, were taxing their systems. You're really asking too much of one firm to be able to manage all of this."

I... see. So, would there be any reason that one firm was given the exclusive, no-bid contract for this job in direct contravention of written government policy? Is it just too hard for people to connect the dots here and start waving around that verboten phrase: war profiteering? After all, VP Dick was still getting some deferred payments from Halliburton around the time this whole debacle started. Heh. See, ordinarily, they try to be a little more, um, subtle about this whole corruption thing but, granted, the current administration is not noted for its subtlety.

But, of course, wave this thing in front of your average conservative suck-up and you'll get accused of being a 'conspiracy theorist' (here; note the date, and the fact that the prior administration was fond of using these weasels, too.) See, Oil-for-Food... Now THAT'S a scandal! Make a few million bucks off of a program designed to get people food and medicine? Conspiracy run rampant and an offense to the world's upright and moral standing! Make a few billion off a program as a consequence of widespread destruction and leaving people bereft of clean water, electricity, and fuel? A trifle that shouldn't even be considered. What's the difference? In the prior circumstances, Iraq was the ENEMY. Now they're a FRIEND. Occupied friend at gunpoint, but let's not split hairs here. And, of course, in the case of the UN, those criminals just aren't American...


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