Not about oil – Any form of $$$ will do

Halliburton scores big off Iraq

Although I didn’t think it was possible, it seems that the contracts awarded to Halliburton are bigger than previously thought. Now, I’m all for outsourcing support operations when the situation allows it, and I know that there are legal reasons that make the no-bid contracts to Halliburton, um, legal.

But Halliburton, due to its ties to VP Cheney, needs to at least act like they’re on the straight an narrow. Even if everything is on the up and up (and since there are both humans and dollars involved, you now that it isn’t) wouldn’t they want to make sure that there isn’t even an appearance of impropriety?

Daniel Carlson, a spokesman for the Army’s Joint Munitions Command, said Brown and Root had won a competitive bidding process in 2001 to provide a wide range of “contingency” services to the military in the event of the deployment of U.S. troops overseas. He said the contract, known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP, was designed to free up uniformed personnel for combat duties and did not preclude deals with other contractors.
Carlson said the money earmarked for Brown and Root was an estimate, and could go “up or down” depending on the work performed.

“Up or down.” Hmmmm. I know which option my money would be on. And as a taxpayer, it is.

The whole idea behind outsourcing and privatization is that for-profit specialists can do many jobs better and cheaper than government agencies. When they can’t, the work shouldn’t be outsourced. I’ve got no problems with some people making a little money if it’s for the best in the long run, but this isn’t ‘a little’ money, and whether it’s for the best in the long run is certainly debatable in the face of no-bid contracts and no-show support personnel.

As a final note, I want to make something perfectly clear, especially to anyone who might think that they’re “bringing me around.” I agree with and support whole-heartedly WHAT we’re doing in Iraq. That doesn’t mean I always support HOW we’re doing it. And although I don’t think the ‘how’ is quite as important as the ‘what’, it’s close.

I don’t have any idea how many other companies would have been interested in bidding on the “no-bid” contracts, and I realize that there is more to judging bids than the dollar amount. For instance, Microsoft could offer to extinguish oil well fires in Iraq, and even if they were willing to do it for one-tenth of the price Halliburton would, they would not win the contract. At least I hope not.

Also, I don’t have problems with freezing parties out of the bidding for any number of reasons. For instance, I don’t care how cheaply France could support our troops. And I believe that British and Australian companies, especially, deserve preferential consideration because of their government’s willingness to take part in our mission.

The real problem arises when a company is awarded a contract unfairly over more-deserving competitors. If that’s the case with some of this Halliburton work, it needs to be addressed. If they get the work simply because of VP Cheney, there needs to be significant repercussions. I don’t know all the facts.

Lastly, Halliburton’s stock price hasn’t really reflected their war profiteering, if that’s what they’re doing.