they asked the outlaw Willie Sutton why he robbed
banks, he put it to them straight: "That's
where the money is."
is of course physically -- not to mention politically
-- impossible for the corrupt cadres of the
Bush Regime to give a straight answer to anything,
but if they could be forced to cough up the
truth behind the conquest of Iraq, their reply
would be identical to Sutton's. For although
the cadres -- and the media commentariat --
have thrown up a dust storm of grandiose moral,
strategic and ideological "reasons"
for the war, each passing week brings new proof
that the whole murderous farrago boils down
to one thing: loot. "Follow the money"
-- Deep Throat's abiding Suttonian wisdom --
is definitely the key to penetrating the grubby
mysteries of the Bushist cargo cult.
begin by following the money from the mounting
pile of dead bodies in Iraq to the silk lining
of Dick Cheney's trouser pockets. This month
the mainstream American press woke up to the
long-established fact that Cheney is still receiving
oodles of boodle in "deferred compensation"
from his old firm, Halliburton, which just happens
to be the biggest gorger at the Iraqi trough.
These "revelations" forced the grim-visaged
veep into a furious spin cycle: the terms of
the deal were set before he took office, he'll
give all the money to charity, his probity is
irreproachable, blah blah blah -- the usual
soft-soap, swallowed whole, as usual, by the
bold was his defense that last week Bushist
minions called on critics to issue a formal
apology to the poor maligned unelected multimillionaire
war profiteer (and former business partner of
Saddam Hussein). But even granting the ludicrous
assumption that Cheney was actually telling
the truth about this particular arrangement
-- which only involves chump change of a few
hundred thousand dollars, after all -- the fact
is that Halliburton is using a back door to
fill its former chief's coffers with millions
in blood money pumped directly from the corpses
of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
profitable arrangement was found hiding in plain
sight last week by investigator Maggie Burns
of the Progressive Populist. While the media
mandarins were gulping soap, Burns committed
the increasingly rare act of journalism by checking
out Cheney's financial disclosure forms. These
show that Cheney has a minimum of $18 million
invested in The Vanguard Group, a leading mutual
fund. (Given the deliberately vague, vast ranges
of the "disclosure" forms, this nest-egg
could be as high as $87 million. We mere mortals
are not meant to know).
as it happens, is the 10th-largest shareholder
in -- oh, you guessed already! -- Halliburton.
The fund owns 7.6 million shares in the firm,
worth about $176 million. Thus any government
contract that swells Halliburton's bottom line
does indeed pour war profits straight into Cheney's
bulging bank accounts. No amount of soap can
wash away that fact. Meanwhile, five of the
other top 10 shareholders in Halliburton have
big bucks parked with our old friends The Carlyle
Group, where George Bush Sr. hangs out his shingle
as a pricey corporate shill (and former bin
Laden business partner). So Bush family coffers
are definitely not forgotten when Halliburton
goes to war.
do let's be fair. After taking a bit of mild
heat for larding Halliburton, Bechtel and other
Bush-blessed firms with billion-dollar no-bid
contracts, the Regime announced it was "opening
up" competition for war pork. The new rules
give potential contractors all of three days
-- or even sometimes as much as seven whole
days! -- to put together bids for major projects
totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, The
New York Times reports.
enough, most companies not already on the ground
in Iraq are finding it difficult to meet these
luxurious deadlines. "Oh, your company
can't come up with specs for rebuilding the
entire national highway infrastructure of Iraq
in just three days? Too bad; guess we'll have
to give it to Bechtel then. Here ya go, Bechs
-- and by the way, thanks for that campaign
check, pal! See ya at the ranch this weekend!"
this system of conquistador cronyism is going
global. In a desperate bid to get some outside
help in cleaning up the ungodly, bloodsoaked
mess they've made, the Bushists struck a UN
deal last week that will allow foreign countries
who contribute to the pillaging -- sorry, the
reconstruction -- of Iraq to funnel the cash
to their own politically favored firms, The
Guardian reports. Naturally, the Bushist occupation
junta will "coordinate" the gobbling
at this new trough, making sure the White House
Vanguardians get their cut. At last, a form
of internationalism that Bush can embrace!
the sweetheart deals get sweeter yet for Homeland
gobblers like Halliburton. First, most of the
insider pork is being doled out in "cost-plus"
contracts, with a company's profits tied to
a project's "expenses." The more costs
they ring up, the greater the profit: it's a
green light for overruns, and a license to loot
the public treasury.
that's not all: The profits from these scams
are being kept secret -- not only from those
habitual saps, the American people, but also
from the constitutionally mandated oversight
of Congress, the Seattle Times reports.
deals with pals and patrons, secret profits
that can't be traced, mutual funds to launder
the money -- and plenty of cannon fodder to
do the wetwork and take the blowback: Bush has
turned America into a den of thieves.
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