Who will rebuild Iraq?

Submitted by AWL on 6 April, 2003 - 7:17

It’s hard, when looking at pictures of dead and burned children, to fathom the depths of cynicism of the war-mongers. David Aaronovitch in the, appropriately April Fool’s Day, Guardian agonises over whether, like Madeleine Albright and half a million dead Iraqi children, it’s price worth paying. Some people have no doubts; they know exactly what the cost and who will benefit.

It is estimated that post-war reconstruction of Iraq will cost at least $20 billion a year. The Bush Administration already has an agency in place to oversee the spending of that money: the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, headed by Jay Garner, a former Army general who then went to work for a
military contractor.

The spoils are already being divided, even as the war goes on. the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) has quietly sent out a detailed request for bids on initial reconstruction work, worth an estimated $900 million. Only a handful of companies, all of them U.S.-based, are being allowed to compete for the contract. Those companies are all giant engineering firms: Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp., Halliburton Co.’s Kellogg Brown & Root unit, Parsons Corp. and Louis Berger Group.

 Halliburton’s former chief executive is now Vice President, Dick Cheney. 95 percent of its $709,320 in federal campaign contributions during the past two election cycles went to Republicans. All but one of the other contractors on AID’s short list have also been heavy Republican contributors. Halliburton is also being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for questionable accounting practices relating to cost overruns on projects carried out during Cheney’s tenure as CEO.

 In 2001 Fluor agreed to pay $8.2 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit in which one of the company’s units was charged with submitting false invoices to the federal government.

 In 1995 a subsidiary of Parsons agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that accused the company of overcharging the Air Force on environmental surveys.

 Bechtel and its joint venture partner Parsons Brinckerhoff are being investigated by Massachusetts officials for more than $1 billion in cost overruns on the Big Dig highway project in downtown Boston.

 Louis Berger Group seems to have a somewhat cleaner legal record, but the company has been involved in controversial areas such as water and transport privatization.

Some people won’t even have to wait till the war’s over: one U.S. oil services company has already clinched a contract to develop a plan for extinguishing oil field fires and rebuilding damaged petroleum infrastructure - none other than Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown & Root.
So the price, David, clearly worth paying if it lands you a portion of that $20billion per year.

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