Iraq, oddly enough, US Politics

Against the rules…

I’m out of town, so I’ll be brief tonight. Via „warblogging.com„, I found this „Corpwatch.com“ document regarding a serious involvement in US military activities of a subsidiary of Halliburton, the oil construction company previously managed by current US Vice President Dick Cheney.

Most of the article is concerned with some sort of public-privqte-partnership in the running of certain logistic activities.

In December 2001, Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, secured a 10-year deal known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), from the Pentagon. The contract is a „cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity service“ which basically means that the federal government has an open-ended mandate and budget to send Brown and Root anywhere in the world to run military operations for a profit. … Army officials working with Brown and Root says the collaboration is helping cut costs by hiring local labor at a fraction of regular Army salaries. „We can quickly purchase building materials and hire third-country nationals to perform the work. This means a small number of combat-service-support soldiers are needed to support this logistic aspect of building up an area,“ says Lt. Col. Rod Cutright, the senior LOGCAP planner for all of Southwest Asia.“

On an theoretical level, I find this most interesting, as I would have predicted that the nature of transactions conducted by the military on a mission in a crisis area would make it difficult to rely on contractors – even longterm ones – and thus imply the internalisation and hierarchical coordination of all factors necessary. But apparently, a longterm contract seems to be able to handle the organisational problems at hand. Interesting.

On a political level, I am concerned about the impression these contracts will leave, regardless of the fact that

[Dick Cheney’s] spokesperson denies that the White House helped the company win the contract.“

Of course, there are perfectly reasonable explanations for such contracts – maybe Halliburton provided the best offer for a long planned service, maybe other companies are in the same business, in a comparable way, maybe, maybe, maybe – but whatever may or may not be justified in the decision to award them such a contract, the suspicion that the Bush administration does have a private agenda that is at least partly different from its public rethoric is certainly not being refuted by such stories, as the article indicates.

„Critics say that the apparent conflict of interest is deplorable. ‚The Bush-Cheney team have turned the United States into a family business,‘ says Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press, 2000).“

While this is certainly a fringe opinion, I can’t help but wonder why someone like Dick Cheney would not try to avoid stories like by not giving contracts to previous employers at all costs. Including alligations of discrimination against his former employer.

I just don’t get it.

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