Blackwater U.S.A. This week the Interior Ministry of Iraq announced that it was revoking the license of Blackwater U.S.A., a private American company that provides security to government and private officials in Iraq. Currently there are about 1,000 Blackwater employees operating in Iraq. Private contractors in Iraq have been angering Iraqis who consider them “a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country.” Unfortunately there is probably nothing that the Iraqi government can do to remove Blackwater forces, or any other private contractors, from their country.
Government Contracting Recent news stories regarding Charles Riechers’ suicide shortly after being appointed the second highest ranking procurement officer in the U.S. Air Force was just the beginning of an unbelievable corruption story. From the Pentagon procurement office to the White House, government contracting has become an exercise in personal enrichment and campaign financing.
Halliburton and KBR Halliburton, and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), is the only company mentioned by Osama bin Laden in his April 2004 tape. This article looks at the mega-corporation, its history, its ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, its legal entanglements, and allegations of fraud.
Human Cost of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan The United States has no method of collecting information about deaths and injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many reports, but the numbers vary greatly. This is a range of various groups, based on multiple reporting sources.
Lieberman-Kyl Amendment The Defense Authorization Bill is currently in a conference committee to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions. One of those differences is the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment. The Amendment is based on contested findings and could allow the U.S. to attack another country, without discussion or debate by Congress.
Preemption vs. Prevention and the 1% Solution Since the inception of our attack on Iraq we’ve been hearing about the Bush “doctrine of preemption.” However, a preemptive war implies that an attack is imminent, a clear and present danger. Our attack on Iraq was a “preventive” attack. According to international law, this may be illegal. Additionally, VP Dick Cheney invokes the 1% solution, which is neither preemptive nor preventive.
Russia and Georgia The recent events in Georgia are confusing, primarily because media reports have been inaccurate. The semi-independent province of South Ossetia was invaded by Georgia. Russia, as a legitimate U.N.-sponsored peacekeeping force, defended it. How Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili could make such a blunder is the question of the day. And the fallout from the invasion will be felt for quite some time all around the world.
The Cost of the War on Terrorism A new Congressional Budget Office report shows that, to date, more than $503 billion has been spent on the War on Terrorism, which includes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the President’s recent requests for a 2007 supplemental as well as his request for the 2008 budget are appropriated by Congress, the costs will go to more than $746 billion next year. And, not all of the costs are able to be discerned.
Where's the $9 Billion? We’ve been hearing for years about the $9 billion lost by the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority. Recently, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele did a remarkable piece of investigative reporting for Vanity Fair on the issue. The Issue Wonk summarizes it.