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Wednesday, 25 October 2006 07:14

DNC: More Contracting Abuses in Iraq; Staying the Course Costing Americans Billions

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NEWS RELEASE

DNC: More Contracting Abuses in Iraq; Staying the Course Costing Americans Billions

Washington, DC - According to a new government report, "overhead costs have consumed more than half the budget of some reconstruction projects in Iraq," meaning "that, in some cases, more money was being spent on housing and feeding employees, completing paperwork and providing security than on actual construction" in Iraq. The company with the highest proportion of its costs as overhead was "KBR Inc., the Halliburton subsidiary formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root," which has a number of oil-facility contracts in Iraq. Most disturbing, the costs for many of the Iraqi reconstruction projects "could be even higher than the estimates, the report said" because the Republican-controlled Congress has not properly tracked the billions allocated for Iraq. [New York Times, 10/25/06]

"This is just the latest in a string of examples where the Bush White House and Republican-controlled Congress have not engaged in proper oversight of the Iraq war efforts, costing American taxpayers billions," said Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Stacie Paxton. "The billions being lost in contracting abuses in Iraq due to overcharging, fraud and waste is money that won't be spent on proper body armor for our troops or keeping Americans safe here at home. Americans simply cannot afford to stay the course in Iraq. Democrats are offering a new direction that includes real oversight and a real strategy for victory in Iraq."

A Short History Of Republican Cronyism And Waste In Iraq

Republican Lobbyists and Former Bush Administration Officials Used Ties To Get Big Contracts in Iraq. The Washington Post reported in October 2003 that "some of Washington's top Republican lobbyists are counting on ties to the Bush administration, the congressional leadership and the Iraqi provisional government to turn the embattled country into a major new profit center." [Washington Post, 10/2/03]

Bush Campaign Manager Formed Consulting Firm to Help Companies Obtain Contracts in Iraq. New Bridge Strategies formed in May 2003 with the aim of assisting private businesses obtain contracts from the Coalition Provisional Authority to perform business in Iraq. The firm is headed by Joe Allbaugh, campaign manager of Bush-Cheney 2000 and former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. [New York Times, 9/30/03]

Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Staffers Recruited From A Conservative Think Tank. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joseph Yoswa admits that for the Madrid Donors Conference, the CPA recruiting office needed resumes and "turned to the Heritage Foundation, an educational facility, albeit a conservative one, but primarily a place where you can get good, solid people." [Washington Post, 5/23/04]

* Staffers Lacked International Experience. Many of those who volunteered for the CPA "supported the war effort and President Bush... had strong Republican credentials [and] they were in their twenties or early thirties and had no foreign service experience." [Washington Post, 5/23/04]

The CPA Lost $9 Billion in Cash in Iraq. Nearly $9 billion of money slated for Iraqi reconstruction is unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), according to an inspector general's report released in January 2005. "Severe inefficiencies and poor management by the Coalition Provisional Authority has left auditors with no guarantee the money was properly used," the report said. [CNN, 1/31/05]

Halliburton Has Been the Biggest Beneficiary of Iraq No-Bid Contracts, Raking in $14.5 billion. Halliburton, where Vice President Cheney once served as its CEO, has received $14.5 billion in no-bid contracts since 2002, more money than any other U.S. contractor in Iraq. [Washington Post, 7/12/06]

Parsons Corp. Built Shoddy Baghdad Police Academy, Which Must Now Be Demolished. President Bush's entire Iraq strategy revolves around getting Iraqi security forces trained. But the Baghdad Police Academy, built by U.S. contractor, Parsons Corp, now has to be demolished only months after it was built because faulty construction is causing human waste to leak through its ceilings. The no-bid contract to Parsons Corp. was worth $75 million. [Washington Post, 9/29/06]

Millions of Dollars Wasted In Iraq By Custer Battles. Custer Battles, a firm started by a former GOP candidate for Congress, was given millions in contracts to provide security at the Iraqi airport. According to the director for Baghdad airport security, "Custer Battles has shown themselves to be unresponsive, uncooperative, incompetent, deceitful, manipulative and war profiteers." According to a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Air Force, Custer Battles set up sham companies in the Cayman Islands to fabricate phony invoices with the intention of fraudulently inflating its profits. Mike Battles and Scott Custer are currently under federal investigation by the Department of Justice for fraud. [CBS News, 7/9/06]

NEWS RELEASE

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