Tuesday, July 24, 2007

shocked, shocked. . .

On a day when Halliburton announced a 19% uptick in second quarter profits, is it of any particular amount of surprise to learn that the massive tax-payer-funded cash giveaway also known as the war in Iraq has resulted in massive graft and corruption?

A former officer in the U.S. Army Reserves pleaded guilty Monday to bribery, conspiracy and money laundering charges in connection with a government contracting scheme in Balad, Iraq.

John Allen Rivard, 48, entered the plea before U.S. Magistrate Andrew W. Austin. Rivard pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired with a government contractor and accepted bribes to steer federally funded contracts to the contractor's company from April 2004 through August 2005. At the time, Rivard was deployed for logistical support near Balad.

In exchange for 5 percent of the contracts' values, Rivard awarded multimillion dollar contracts for such items as tractor trailers.

The total value of the contracts awarded was approximately $21 million (€15.19 million), according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rivard said he received more than $220,000 (€159,178) in bribe payments. Rivard also confessed to conspiring with others in the United States to launder the proceeds of the bribery scheme, sending money to others to purchase, among other things, rent on a West Hollywood, California apartment and a down payment on a new BMW convertible.

From a tent in Balad (home to the massive Camp Anaconda) with a Humvee parked outside to an apartment in West Hollywood and a Beemer—why, it’s the American dream!

(Of course, here in Bush’s opportunity society, some less, shall we say, “enterprising” Iraq veterans have had to resort to a lawsuit in an attempt to pry a few dollars worth of disability pay from the underfunded kakistocracy commonly referred to as the VA.)

I would like to think that some smart presidential aspirant could cut through the “everybody does it” clutter to expose the Bush/Cheney Administration for the giant kleptocracy it really is.

Everybody doesn’t do this. This is something completely different. This is what happens when a unitary, greedy executive operates without oversight for over half a decade. This is what happens when you appoint loyal ideologues and cronies to positions of authority. This is what happens when White House war-making authority is allowed to flourish unchecked by the Congress. This is what happens when you go into war without a clue of how to get out. This is what happens when foreign policy exists only to service domestic electoral concerns. This is what happens when Pentagon auditors are overruled and punished for flagging cost overruns.

Alas, things being what they are, this is what happens when you vote Republican.

(PS Yes, I know I just used this headline in April—this is also what happens when you elect Republicans.)

(cross-posted to Daily Kos)

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