Iraq is Enron, and President Bush is Ken Lay. He's fighting a war with phony accounting tricks. The Bush administration fudged the numbers to get us into Iraq, and cooked the books to keep us there. "The surge" is simply another in a long series of inflated stock quotes. This past weekend Marcel Marceau passed away at age 84. Doctors say he went quietly. Thus proving that evil thrives when good men stay silent. And just like with Enron, the good men and women who are blowing the whistle on Iraq contractor fraud are being vilified, fired, demoted, and those are the lucky ones.
Last Friday morning the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing entitled "The Mistreatment of Iraq Contracting Whistleblowers," just in time to make the Friday news dump. According to the committee more than $10 billion dollars in Iraq reconstruction and military support contracts is unaccounted for. In other words, for every six dollars spent in Iraq one dollar is in question. And folks, it's a war-zone, you're dealing with a culture known for its haggling skills, so you've got factor in a little skimming, but this is ridiculous. If you stole that much money from the Mafia you'd be dead.
Vicente Fox may have called President Bush a "windshield cowboy," but Bush has certainly turned Iraq into a wild, wild, west. And here's another one from the War in Iraq's this-is going-to-make-you-vomit file. Some Iraq contract whistleblowers have been vilified and fired, others have been detained by the US military and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques.
Donald Vance, a Navy veteran, was working for an Iraqi-owned outfit called the Shield Group Security Company. Vance said he witnessed Shield Group selling guns, land mines, and rocket-launchers to Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry workers. Vance described Shield Groups as "a Wal-Mart for guns." Vance reported this to the FBI, and instead of a pat on the back, he got 97 days at Camp Cropper, a military prison outside of Baghdad. In fact, Saddam's Hussein's old crib. Vance was placed in solitary confinement, subjected to head-banging music blaring from dawn to dusk, and interrogators screaming the same questions over and over again in his face.
Also testifying at the hearing along with Vance was Barry Godfrey, a former KBR employee (KBR+Halliburton=Cheney) who claimed that he was fired after complaining to his supervisors about fraudulent overcharges.
Also testifying was Bunnatine Greenhouse. Greenhouse is the former highest-ranking civilian contracting official at the Army Corps of Engineers, so I'll dispense with the "Greenhouse having gas" joke. But Greenhouse was removed from her position when she tried to crack down on "casual and clubby contracting practices" at the Army Corps of Engineers.
Also testifying was Robert Isakson who was a co-plaintiff in a "qui tam" lawsuit (a whistleblower lawsuit) against Custer Battles. No, "qui tam" is not that stuff that Chinese people do in the park, it's shorthand for the Latin Phrase "qui tam pro domino quam pro seipso," which dates back to 13th century England, and means, "He who is as much for the King as for himself." Today, a "qui tam" lawsuit is one brought under the False Claims Act by a private plaintiff on behalf of the Federal or State Government. Isakson won the first civil verdict for Iraq reconstruction fraud against Custer Battles. However, the verdict was overturned by the judge, who ruled that because the CPA was not part of the US government, the "qui tam" statute did not apply.
Meanwhile the Bush administration has not litigated a single case against a contractor alleged to have defrauded the US Government in Iraq. Apparently, like terrorism, this isn't a law enforcement issue either.
Bill Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" which airs every Friday at 11PM.