Advocates of War Now Profit From Iraq's Reconstruction

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #1
    Lobbyists, aides to senior officials and others encouraged invasion and now help firms pursue contracts. They see no conflict.

    WASHINGTON — In the months and years leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they marched together in the vanguard of those who advocated war.

    As lobbyists, public relations counselors and confidential advisors to senior federal officials, they warned against Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, praised exiled leader Ahmad Chalabi, and argued that toppling Saddam Hussein was a matter of national security and moral duty.

    Now, as fighting continues in Iraq, they are collecting tens of thousands of dollars in fees for helping business clients pursue federal contracts and other financial opportunities in Iraq. For instance, a former Senate aide who helped get U.S. funds for anti-Hussein exiles who are now active in Iraqi affairs has a $175,000 deal to advise Romania on winning business in Iraq and other matters.

    And the ease with which they have moved from advocating policies and advising high government officials to making money in activities linked to their policies and advice reflects the blurred lines that often exist between public and private interests in Washington. In most cases, federal conflict-of-interest laws do not apply to former officials or to people serving only as advisors.

    Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said the actions of former officials and others who serve on government advisory boards, although not illegal, can raise the appearance of conflicts of interest. "It calls into question whether the advice they give is in their own interests rather than the public interest," Noble said.

    Michael Shires, a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, disagreed. "I don't see an ethical issue there," he said. "I see individuals looking out for their own interests."

    Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey is a prominent example of the phenomenon, mixing his business interests with what he contends are the country's strategic interests. He left the CIA in 1995, but he remains a senior government advisor on intelligence and national security issues, including Iraq. Meanwhile, he works for two private companies that do business in Iraq and is a partner in a company that invests in firms that provide security and anti-terrorism services.

    Woolsey said in an interview that he was not directly involved with the companies' Iraq-related ventures. But as a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, he was a featured speaker in May 2003 at a conference co-sponsored by the company at which about 80 corporate executives and others paid up to $1,100 to hear about the economic outlook and business opportunities in Iraq.

    Before the war, Woolsey was a founding member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an organization set up in 2002 at the request of the White House to help build public backing for war in Iraq. He also wrote about a need for regime change and sat on the CIA advisory board and the Defense Policy Board, whose unpaid members have provided advice on Iraq and other matters to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

    Woolsey is part of a small group that shows with unusual clarity the interlocking nature of the way the insider system can work. Moving in the same social circles, often sitting together on government panels and working with like-minded think tanks and advocacy groups, they wrote letters to the White House urging military action in Iraq, formed organizations that pressed for invasion and pushed legislation that authorized aid to exile groups.

    Since the start of the war, despite the violence and instability in Iraq, they have turned to private enterprise.

    The group, in addition to Woolsey, includes:

    •* Neil Livingstone, a former Senate aide who has served as a Pentagon and State Department advisor and issued repeated public calls for Hussein's overthrow. He heads a Washington-based firm, GlobalOptions, that provides contacts and consulting services to companies doing business in Iraq.

    •* Randy Scheunemann, a former Rumsfeld advisor who helped draft the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 authorizing $98 million in U.S. aid to Iraqi exile groups. He was the founding president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Now he's helping former Soviet Bloc states win business there.

    •* Margaret Bartel, who managed federal money channeled to Chalabi's exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, including funds for its prewar intelligence program on Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. She now heads a Washington-area consulting firm helping would-be investors find Iraqi partners.

    •* K. Riva Levinson, a Washington lobbyist and public relations specialist who received federal funds to drum up prewar support for the Iraqi National Congress. She has close ties to Bartel and now helps companies open doors in Iraq, in part through her contacts with the Iraqi National Congress.

    Other advocates of military action against Hussein are pursuing business opportunities in Iraq. Two ardent supporters of military action, Joe Allbaugh, who managed President Bush's 2000 campaign for the White House and later headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Edward Rogers Jr., an aide to the first President Bush, recently helped set up two companies to promote business in postwar Iraq. Rogers' law firm has a $262,500 contract to represent Iraq's Kurdistan Democratic Party.

    ...​

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-advocates14jul14,1,278590.story
     
  2. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #2
    I saw this yesterday in the 'Times. Sickening. And the worst part is there's really nothing we can do about it except publicy call these people out like the Times has done here. Just remember who stands to profit when you listen to the pro-war/anti-war arguments.
     
  3. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #3
    People have castigated me in the past, here, when I've pointed out that this sort of thing is business as usual.

    Well, it IS business as usual. This same article, with different names, has been written and re-written since LBJ's era. There is, occasionally, some harrumphing, but it quickly fades to a faint mutter.

    What is rarely pointed out is that Congresspeople, retired Pentagoners and Congressional aides include a large percentage who look forward to these various jobs and positions. Since it's a bi-partisan thing for ex-Congress-folks, I doubt there could be passage of a law which makes any sort of double-dipping illegal. That is, when you're retired from the Pentagon, stay home; same for Congress-folks and their aides.

    The downside of such a law is the loss of knowledge and experience on the part of people who've spent a large part of their lives in learning about the affairs of the affected agencies.

    I dunno. Maybe it comes down to "Bring the troops home!" with all that is implied by that. I think of that because of the phrase "grand strategy" which is implicit (to me) in the article.

    Goin' off into a grumble, I sorta wish these think-tank folks were as smart as they think they are. If they're so smart, how come they screw up so often? If these foreign policy nabobs are so brilliant, how come our foreign policies so often lead us into untenable situations? You can throw Iraq and Vietnam completely out of the picture, and there's still plenty of "untenable" to go around...

    'Rat
     
  4. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #4
    Of course it's "business as usual," and that's precisely the problem -- it hasn't changed one iota. War profiteering has been around since time immemorial, but that doesn't make it tolerable. Perhaps we need to ask more often whether some of the people who are urging us to war are the very same people who are in a position to profit from the war. Maybe that would be a far healthier attitude for a democracy than the collective shrug of our shoulders you seem to be suggesting.
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #5
    are you talking about the iraq-spreading-democracy and they'll-greet-us-with-flowers doctrine? that's wolfowitz.
     
  6. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #6
    IJ, I think my comments about why it won't change are reasonably accurate. If so, then what? I don't disagree with your view, but when the only people with the power to act refuse to act, then what?

    Lemme lay something else on ya: It ain't just war profiteering. It's government profiteering. Look at all the various corporations which spring up to get involved with the multitudes of government programs. Many are set up at "non-profit", but note that the executives are highly paid. There are beaucoup of them "assisting" people in dealing with Medicaid rules, for instance. Others help various doctors and clinics with Medicare matters. Others focus on the various welfare programs.

    You find the same pattern in corporations set up to either lobby USF&WS or EPA, or to advise engineering firms on government agency permitting matters.

    Pick a government program, any program, and somewhere there's a private-sector fella profiteering from it.

    I guess the most obvious is H&R Block...

    :), 'Rat
     
  7. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #7
    IJ, I'm not at all in disagreement with your view of the right/wrong on this issue, but when the only folks with the power to change it don't act, what can be done? And, why would you expect the Beltway Bandits to want to do right, since many look forward to slopping out of the same hog trough? That's why they're there!

    It's not just in the Iraqi deal, either. It's throughout all government activity. All regulatory agencies' regulations have spawned a plethora of entities which lobby them or deal with permitting processes, or teach people how to use whatever loopholes exist.

    Not just the regulatory agencies, either. The oldest and best known profiteer is H&R Block. And many a lawyer specializes in getting folks on Social Security Disability--for a fee.

    The more government, the more profiteering. It's the American way.

    :), 'Rat
     
  8. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #8
    In other words, "so what?" War is just another way for people to make money off the government. It may not be the best way, but it may not be the worst way, either.
     
  9. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #9
    It's less of a shrug and a "So what?" than wondering just what can ever be done. The people in power enjoy benefitting financially from that power, so they're not gonna change it.

    I don't see any real-world, politically viable solution. Do you?

    'Rat
     
  10. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #10
    Yeah we may as well just quit our bitching and let them continue their war-profiteering, huh?

    Like I said earlier, the only thing we CAN do about this is to turn over these kinds of rotting logs and let the light shine on what these people are doing. Is that a 'real world political solution'? Not really, but it is about the only way of combatting this kind of 'feed off the trough' mentality.
     
  11. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #11
    "...the only thing we CAN do about this is to turn over these kinds of rotting logs and let the light shine on what these people are doing."

    mac, I agree. My memory has it that this light has repeatedly been shone, with no result. These articles are written over and over with only a change in names--so it's business as usual for the Beltway Bandits.

    This Iraq deal is just like LBJ, Brown & Root/RMK and Cam Ranh Bay, for an earlier example; around $1.1 billion in 1966-sized dollars.

    'Rat
     
  12. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #12
    We need to shut the revolving door between government and industry. It's been slowed down some recently, but more legislation is needed in this area, and possibly, some prosecutions.
     

Share This Page