The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Wednesday, July 30

a new mcgovern

Ray McGovern of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) has an op-ed over at Veterans for Common Sense, Cheney Chicanery
When Vice President Dick Cheney comes out of seclusion to brand critics 'irresponsible,' you know the administration is in trouble.

Tuesday, July 29

who knew?

Apparently, Bechtel just got the go ahead on its subcontracts. Surprised us.
Federal officials have approved Bechtel Group's blueprint for Iraq reconstruction, making restoration of electric power the top priority in a $680 million budget that authorities concede will just scratch the surface of what needs to be done.
For some unknown reason, the previous 12 years of sanctions seems to have gone unnoticed by the author when describing the current state of Iraq's infrastructure. The article does go into a few details on the plan including the following:
About one-third of the money, $230 million, is devoted to restoring electrical power. The spending plan also earmarks $53 million to repair 1,300 schools and health clinics, and sets aside $45 million for water purification and sanitation.
An op-ed, A long day's journey from the republic of fear to a new Iraq, by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz appeared in the Washington Post and is reprinted on the Sydney Morning Herald website. Very much an "us vs. them" type of op-ed. is the coalition's intensified focus on mid-level Baathists that will yield even greater results in apprehending the contract killers and dead-enders who now target our soldiers and our success.
By now you've probably heard that all bets are off at the new Off Track Betting parlor Mr. Poindexter had hoped to be running for the Department of Defense:
The Pentagon on Tuesday abandoned a plan to establish a futures market that would have allowed traders to profit by correctly predicting assassinations and terrorist strikes in the Middle East.
Tacky. The Guardian article provides links to the websites of the Policy Analysis Market and one of their partner groups, DARPA:

Policy Analysis Market: (already scrubbed, even the Google cache is gone)

DARPA's FutureMap Web site:

We thought it was a hoax when we first got the email two days ago alerting us to the Pentagon's new betting parlor. Who knew it was for real?

Sunday, July 27

what's doing

The Washington Post reports in BearingPoint To Consult on Iraqi Economy on the new BearingPoint contract:
The U.S. Agency for International Development confirmed yesterday that BearingPoint Inc., a consulting firm based in McLean, won a one-year contract worth as much as $79.6 million to help rebuild Iraq's economy.


BearingPoint already has received $9 million from USAID to begin work and will request more as it determines the number, complexity and urgency of its tasks.
Ok. Just when did they get the $9 million? One week is a mighty fast turn around on a check request of that size...

The Guardian reports an interesting snippet by Maj. Gen. David Petreaus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, in an AP article U.S. Hopes Deaths Won't Spur Iraq Crisis:
Petreaus [...] cited his division's successes in Mosul - rebuilding water treatment facilities and the university, relaunching sports programs, restoring and expanding Internet service. He said his division directly employs 5,000 people and has spent at least $7 million on reconstruction projects.
We at bpost can't help but wonder where the $7 million came from, who it went to, and what exactly it paid for. Are the "5,000 people" mostly Iraqis, Americans, Bechtelians or some equal combination of all three? The only thing clear from the article is that the new 480-person security personnel in Mosul is comprised of Arabs and Kurds.
In addition, he said, the 101st has created four 120-man security units that can be used as a model for the civil militia now being planned in Baghdad. The often-quarrelsome Arabs and Kurds who make up the security forces designed their own logo for the units: two fists clasped together in partnership.

Friday, July 25


A new website has been launched, Iraq Occupation Watch, now online at IOW is busy setting up an office inside Iraq. This is a site worth keeping an eye on for news.
About Us

Cognizant of the current lack of information about Iraq and knowing that Iraq will receive increasingly less attention as media sources abandon the country for the newest “hot spot,” an international coalition of peace and justice groups is organizing the Baghdad-based International Occupation Watch Center. The Center will function under the auspices of United for Peace and Justice (, a U.S. anti-war coalition with more than 600 member groups, with participation from a diversity of international groups including Focus on the Global South, Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation, and members of the World Social Forum.


Monitor the relationship between U.S. corporations/subcontractors and Iraqi workers and support the formation of independent trade unions;

Track the international community’s financial commitments to rebuilding Iraq and hold the responsible parties accountable for those commitments;
Check out their site. They hadn't expected to be up and running until October. Iraq Occupation Watch is a very a welcome addition to those websites and blogs keeping tabs on what's happening in Iraq.

Wednesday, July 23

on-going money matters

More contracts and awards in the news. Today's bpost ends with a Letter to the Editor from the Washington Post that we urge you to read. It's great and it got published--which is a minor miracle in itself.

AFP reports Paul Bremer of the Coalition Provisional Authority has set up a Trade Bank of Iraq with the US Treasury Department. Watch for future contracts concerning this venture.
The bank would issue and confirm letters of credit - basically payment guarantees - to smooth trade flows, boosting imports such as heavy construction equipment and also freeing up exports, particularly of oil.

Bremer, the US-appointed civilian administrator of Iraq, would name a president of the Trade Bank of Iraq "well before August", [Treasury Department spokesman Tony] Fratto said.

The newly installed bank president would then select a banking consortium for a one-year extendable contract to operate the facility.
Canada News Wire reported that the CPA has issued licenses to Iridium Satellite LLC for satellite voice and data communications services in Iraq.

How much are they paying in licensing fees and to whom, precisely, are they writing the check?
Iridium Satellite LLC, provider of global satellite voice and data communications, today announced that it has been authorized by the office of the Coalition Provisional Authority (the current governing authority of Iraq) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to provide and sell Iridium's mobile satellite communications services, subscriber terminals, and related equipment in Iraq. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has responsibility, by order of the Coalition Provisional Authority, for licensing all commercial telecommunications services in Iraq.
USA Today reported that BearingPoint won the controversial Economic Reform, Recovery and Sustained Growth in Iraq contract. Figures are vague but its somewhere in the $200 million dollar range. No news on the award has yet been posted over at the USAID website. This particular contract went out on a limited bidding process.
BearingPoint will be responsible for creating Iraq's budget, writing business laws, setting up tax collection, laying out trade and customs rules.

It also is to:

•Privatize state-owned enterprises by auctioning them off or issuing Iraqis shares in the enterprises.

•Reopen banks and jump-start the private sector by making small loans of $100 to $10,000. (Bank of America, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan are expected to seek work as subcontractors to revive Iraq's banks.)

•Wean Iraqis from the U.N. oil-for-food program, the main source of food for 60% of the population.

•Issue a new currency and set exchange rates.
Company Bearing Point
Award $60 million to $200 million (cost plus 6-10%)
Agency USAID
Date of RFP June 4, 2003
Date of Award July 18, 2003
Nature of work To rebuild Iraq's shattered economy, opening its banks, setting tax rates, issuing a new currency and generating jobs for millions of idle workers.
BearingPoint gets contested Iraq contract
By James Cox
USA Today
July 21, 2003

ABT Associates has awarded a grant to the Iraqi Nursing Association (INA) for $137,000. The USAID posted a press release with details on the award.

Company Abt Associates
Subcontractor Iraqi Nursing Association (INA)
Award $137,000
Agency USAID/ Iraq Health Systems Strengthening Project (IHSSP)
Date of RFP
Date of Award July 18, 2003
Nature of work For the purchase of new uniforms, bed linens, and nurses' kits -- which include stethoscopes and pen lights -- and other equipment for the Yarmouk Hospital.
Iraqi Nursing Association Receives U.S. Grant
USAID website
July 21, 2003

Two trade groups are promoting business opportunities in Iraq.

Iraqi Trade Corps

American Iraqi Chamber of Commerce (AICC)

AICC is sponsoring an upcoming conference in Amman, Jordan. For information, U.S. and non U.S.-based firms should contact Dr. Sam Kubba, CEO & Chairman at or by phone at 240-893-7663. For registration and further information, visit
The American-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce (AICC) is organizing a two-day conference in Amman, Jordan on August 3-4, 2003 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. AICC is pleased to bring you The Iraq Reconstruction Conference, an exclusive forum in Amman - Jordan, providing you with the latest information on reconstruction programs and funding, strategies for winning new business, and lucrative networking with top government and corporate leaders.
A great letter.

Washington Post
Letters to the Editor
Monday, July 21, 2003; Page A20
To the Editor:

Regarding the article about President Bush's data on Iraq's nuclear weapons program over time ["Bush Faced Dwindling Data on Iraq Nuclear Bid," front page, July 16]:

I would like to receive the same type of analytical information about U.S. companies that have been retained by the government for commercial activity in Iraq.

For example, which agency or department intended to award contracts for what services? Who were the bidders?

What was the nature of the procurement -- e.g., sole source, open and competitive? Who was awarded contracts and why? For what services and for how much money? Are contract payment figures included in the $3.9 billion recently reported as being the monthly tab on the war in Iraq [news story, July 10]? What are the historical links between the contract awardees and leading personnel of the White House administration, if any?


money and the defense policy board

Tillie Fowler was recently named as the chairperson of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. Richard Perle stepped down as chair, though not from the committee, after Seymour Hersh exposed some rather questionable business practices by Mr. Perle and his company Trireme Partners L.P., in an article Lunch With the Chairman.

Did Tillie Fowler learn absolutely nothing from the episode?
An advisory panel to Gov. Jeb Bush recommended this week that [Florida] spend about $500,000 with the national law firm Holland & Knight, which has pledged to put some of its most politically influential players on a task force to investigate potential closures. Among its team members is former U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler of Jacksonville.

It would be up to Fowler and others on the consulting team, should the firm ultimately win a contract with the state, to advise Bush and other state officials about which Florida military installations, if any, might be at risk.

Bush aides say Fowler is an ideal choice for the scouting mission. She is head of a panel conducting hearings on the U.S. Air Force Academy's handling of rape allegations and was appointed this month by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to head up a national defense policy board.
One would assume that even the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest would be best to be avoided. There's the added bonus points of a conflict of interest that happens to be in the state of Florida, where the Presiden't brother is the sitting governor, who was in office during the purges of 93,000 voters from the 2000 voter rolls, that affected the outcome of a national presidential election...

Read the rest in an article by Mark Hollis in the Orlando Sentinel, Former politico to probe base closings

Sunday, July 20

how much is that doggy in the window?

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently reported to Congress that military operations in Iraq are costing US taxpayers $3.9 billion dollars per month. He's hoping to get a supplemental.
Congress in April appropriated $62.8 billion extra for the Iraq war, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he will ask for more supplemental funding next year. Operations in Iraq cost $3.9 billion a month; in Afghanistan, the cost is about $950 million monthly. Democrats said the expense should be budgeted.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) tried to get a proposal passed to monitor the costs of the occupation. The Republicans voted it down.
A second proposal to force more cost accounting for the war, offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would have called for reports to Congress every 30 days on costs, personnel levels, contributions by foreign countries and international organizations, casualty figures and all contracts in excess of $10 million for the reconstruction of Iraq. It was rejected, 50-45.
Go on. Click the link: The Cost of War

odds & ends

Lots of news is in the news on current and upcoming contracts. Very little concrete information though on how the new contracts will be awarded or to whom.

The UN News Center reports in Iraq: UN earmarks oil and electricity equipment for urgent delivery that big money is already slated and in the pipeline for a variety of projects.
Multi-million dollar contracts for heavy equipment and spare parts for Iraq’s oil and electricity sectors have been prioritized for immediate delivery after talks this month with United Nations agencies, the United States-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and Iraqi representatives, the UN Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) announced today (July 17).

The contracts, chosen from the UN Oil-for-Food programme’s humanitarian pipeline are fully funded from pre-war oil sales and include items urgently needed for the rehabilitation of Iraq’s infrastructure, OIP said.

Regular weekly meetings of UN and Iraqi experts and CPA advisers have so far produced a list of 1,419 contracts with items totalling $1.95 billion, including the oil sector ($1.038 billion); electricity ($794 million); water and sanitation ($54 million); youth and sports ($19.4 million); labour and social affairs ($11 million).
Computerwire covers the upcoming Request for Proposals for three cellular networks in Iraq in its recent article US Unveils Iraq Cellphone Plan
The US administration in Iraq has asked for applications for licenses to build and operate three regional cell phone networks in the country.


A request for proposals will be issued in the week beginning July 28, and proposals will be required within 14 days.
Speaking of investing in the cellular network, the Financial Times reports in Investment rules waived on Iraqi projects that the CPA has overridden Iraqi legislation. Pretty clear the action was taken to open up Iraq to foreign investment for its cellular network. Hope the Iraqi people had a say in this.
The Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad will waive a key piece of Iraqi legislation requiring all foreign investors to allocate a 51 per cent share of their projects in Iraq to Iraqi entities, a senior CPA official said yesterday announcing a competition for mobile phone licences in Iraq.

The CPA has used its broad powers to override Iraqi legislation in the past, but this was the first time it had been used so decisively to influence the climate for foreign investment.

David Leech, a CPA adviser to the communications ministry, outlined the plans for a competition for the licences, which is to begin with a request for proposals on July 28, followed closely by a bidders' conference in Amman, Jordan.
And the New York Times covered who will handle security services in U.S. Considers Private Iraqi Force to Guard Sites
The Pentagon is considering a plan to train a private Iraqi security force and make it responsible for guarding pipelines, government buildings and hundreds of other sites in Iraq, military officials said today.

[...] the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and private American companies, including Kroll Inc., a well-known private security consulting concern, were discussing how members of the proposed force could be screened and approved.

The cost of training the Iraqi force would likely be paid by United States taxpayers, military officials said. The salaries for the Iraqi guards might also be paid by the United States, the officials said, at least until an Iraqi government emerges, although funds could be drawn from Iraqi oil revenue.
Kroll Inc is involved in the talks (are they already on the payroll?) and said to be in the running for some part of the effort.
"Our sense is that the military has too much on their plate right now, and that these are issues that need to be addressed, and the way to do that is through the private sector,"
For those of you who are concerned about the depth of the Iraq occupation, you might want to skip the New York Times article. You'll sleep better that way.

the news on iraq

Periodically we like to alert bpost readers to who else out there on the web is covering the news on Iraq. Below are a variety of sources outside of the mainstream media. We've included those that have links to other sites. You may like them, you may not, but half the fun of life is visiting places you've never been.

Enjoy the journey of discovery.
Launched June 9, 2003, a bimonthly News Magazine printed in Baghdad and distributed throughout Iraq, specifically reporting on and providing a forum for guest writers to debate issues related to the redevelopment of the country.
All the current Umm Qasr news.
Kurdish Media. Its vision is to become a one-stop-shop information provider on Kurds and Kurdistan.
Future of Iraq Portal - extensive listing of websites, blogs, and discussion lists on Iraq.
List of links to news on Iraq broken down by the source's region: European, Canadian, etc.
Campaign Against Sanctions in Iraq. They've been following news on and in Iraq since 1997. Their discussion list is a wealth of information.

Friday, July 18

cheney energy meetings

Media advisory
Judicial Watch
July 17, 2003

Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oilfields

Commerce & State Department Reports to Task Force Detail Oilfield & Gas Projects, Contracts & Exploration

Saudi Arabian & UAE Oil Facilities Profiled As Well
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at:
Please see bpost of Friday March 28, Dear Tom

tsk tsk tsk

On June 28, bpost included an excerpt from an article in the Shreveport Times reporting that Joseph Whitaker had been named director of health care facilities for the office of the US senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Health. At the time, we asked: Who is Joseph Whitaker?

The Shreveport Times has a follow up:
Shreveport contractor Joe Whitaker waived extradition in a federal court in Texas on Thursday and will be returned to Louisiana by Tuesday to face a criminal charge for allegedly failing to pay $1.4 million to subcontractors on a Monroe hospital project.
Yup. Same Joe Whitaker.
Last month, Whitaker was named director of health-care facilities for the office of the U.S. senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Health. He was at Fort Bliss, Texas, attending a pre-trip course on Iraqi culture. He was expected to leave Thursday to head to Iraq, although Jones told The Times on Wednesday she thought he was already there.

Thursday, July 17

odds & ends

Some snippets from our overflowing inbox. There is, unfortunately, too little information to construct an outline for the contracts that are mentioned.

UK banknote printer set for Iraq contract
New Zealand Herald
July 7, 2003
Britain's De La Rue Plc, the world's biggest commercial printer of banknotes, said on Monday it was set to win the main contract to produce new banknotes for Iraq, sending its shares to a 20-week high.

"The company will lead a consortium of global currency specialists to manufacture the banknotes," De La Rue said in a statement which made no mention of any value for the contract.
Bombs and Bullets Are Boon for World Airways Inc.
by Doron Levin
July 14, 2003
World Airways Inc. is an old hand at war and its aftermath, a big reason why it appears well-suited to fly passengers to Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries that need improved air service.

The 55-year-old carrier, based near Atlanta, is one of a handful of airlines applying to the U.S. government for permission to initiate flights to Kabul, as well as to Baghdad. The company transported troops to the region during the conflict in Iraq.
US builds up tribal rule on Coke, doughnuts and power
By Charles Clover
Financial Times
July 14, 2003
Visitors to the home of Sheikh Majid Ali Suleiman, chief of the Duleim tribe in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, are usually greeted with the question: "Has anything been stolen from you?"


Col Teeples is keen to cultivate sheikhs by giving them favourable treatment. Mr Ali Suleiman, for example, got a contract to supply cement to US forces rebuilding an airfield, while a tribal leader from Rutba won jobs for some of his charges.
Guidelines for NEH grant proposal to preserve and document cultural resources in Iraq
NEH website
NEH invites proposals for projects to preserve and document cultural resources in Iraq’s archives, libraries, and museums. Projects can also disseminate information relating to the materials and bibliographic records of civilization in Iraq from the earliest times to the present. Projects should focus on resources, which, because of their intellectual content and value as cultural artifacts, are considered highly important for research, education, and public programming in the humanities. This initiative continues NEH's longstanding history of support for humanities scholarship to advance knowledge and understanding of Mesopotamia, the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq.

Projects should have specific goals and measurable results. On-site work in Iraq is contingent upon security. Collaboration between Iraqi and American professionals is encouraged whenever appropriate.
An update on the recent Bechtel conference in Basra:

Iraqis learning modern capitalism the hard way
by Daniel Trotta
July 13, 2003
Giant U.S. engineering firm Bechtel on Sunday told Iraqi companies they could be part of rebuilding the country and got a first-hand look at how local firms are struggling to adapt in a post-Saddam world.

Bechtel, awarded the prime reconstruction contract for Iraq by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), met 200 representatives of potential Iraqi subcontractors in Iraq's second city Basra, the hub for southern commerce on the Gulf.
And a new partnership worth noting:

Clyde & Co joins hands with big Baghdad firm
by A Staff Reporter
Gulf News
July 11, 2003
The law firm Clyde & Co. has reached an exclusive co-operation agreement with one of Iraq's leading law offices, Numan Shakir Numan of Baghdad.

The senior partner, Numan, a former President of the Iraqi Bar Association, acts for some of the largest private enterprises in Iraq. His office is one of the leading practices in the country calling upon the services of a number of specialized lawyers.

Through this agreement, the two firms will be able to provide a legal framework for companies conducting business in Iraq.

Wednesday, July 16

book review

Feldman, Noah. After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2003. ISBN 0374177694

Democracy is messy.

The very idea of an Islamic democracy is alarming for many Westerners in the aftermath of September 11th. But the policy of maintaining the status quo of unelected autocrats, dictators, and "rentier nations", and ignoring power struggles that result in civil war, has already proven catastrophic.
The absolutist thinking that insists on arraying movements like "democracy" and "Islam" against each other in inevitable conflict has led us badly astray. Shared by skeptical Westerners and some hard line Islamists, it has led to mistaken reasoning, and hence to mistaken policies. Specifically, it has led the United States and Europe to ignore the possibility that Muslims want freedom as much as anybody else. It has led Western governments that pride themselves on their own democratic character to embrace dictators for reasons of short term self interest, forgetting that in the long run, the support of autocracy undermines their own democratic values and makes enemies of the people who are being oppressed with Western complicity.
Noah Feldman has written After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy as a book that explores the question in three parts. Part One looks at how Islam and democracy can be synthesized so that they remain true to themselves. Part Two looks at existing states and shows that the seeds of democracy are there. Part Three demands that Western nations, the United States in particular, take a vested interest in seeing democracy succeed. Practical steps that might lead to successful democratic societies are suggested.
The point is that as a moral matter, Muslims, like everyone else, should have the opportunity to make basic decisions about government for themselves. The fact that a country is not democratic, however, is not good evidence that its citizens do not wish for it to be more democratic. If Muslims choose democratic government, then they ought to be assisted in achieving it. If, on the other hand, they choose something else, that, too, should be permitted to exist undisturbed.
Those expecting a concise and explicit answer in Part 3 of After Jihad will be sorely disappointed; but Feldman reminds his readers that successful democracy comes from within, and cannot be imposed from without. As Iraq begins the process of forming a new government, as Afghanistan continues its own internal struggles, After Jihad is as much about Western foreign policy as it is about the form of Islamic democracy likely to result from 21st century Muslims who yearn for change.

Feldman reviews the various forms of government that currently exist where Islam is the dominant religion. He explores what is meant by the very concept of "democracy". He sees the advent of an Islamic democracy as a "mobile idea" — one that can accommodate the unique cultures of nations as diverse as Malaysia from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia from Pakistan, Egypt from Indonesia.

After Jihad proposes that monarchies hold the greatest promise of democratic reform, as kings make way for necessary social change while simultaneously attempting to hold on to their thrones. Dictatorships pose the greatest challenge: with little outside influence, interaction, or contact from Western nations, and with their citizens powerless to effect change except through the use of armed force. A surprise for many readers will be the optimism and excitement that Feldman holds for internal democratic reform in Iran.

Feldman's examination of the governance of oil states is of particular interest. While no one likes to pay taxes, citizens derive concrete benefits that are denied them when under the rule of "rentier nations". Rentier nations are those that rely on the sale of their natural resources rather than on income taxes to pay for social services.
At the structural level, democrats realize that a government that does not tax its people also lacks most incentives to respond to the people's desires.
Feldman opens After Jihad with a short history of the brief success, followed by tragic failure, of a fledgling Islamic democracy in Algeria. In 1989, mass protests led to elections ushering in a newly formed Islamic party in 1990. Before a second round of elections could be administered, at the insistence of Algerian generals, the leaders of the newly formed party were arrested and jailed, the party was banned, and the elections cancelled. As a result of their oppression, the party turned to armed resistance.
In a speech that has cast long shadows over subsequent American policy, then Assistant Secretary of State Edward Djerejian explained that while the United States favored democracy, it opposed elections that would provide for "one person, one vote, one time."
The ensuing civil war led to the deaths of 100,000 Algerians.

This short narrative acts as a wakeup call for Western readers throughout the rest of the book.

After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy is relatively short; Feldman's explication of the language and history of foreign nations unfamiliar to Westerners is easy to follow. Feldman provides numerous references and footnotes, all of which the reader will wish to dive into because the references provide context and not just scholarly evidence. Feldman's excitement at the prospect of what Islamic democracy holds is contagious. His exuberance is sure to be well received by the Iraqi people whom he is now advising as they explore ways to craft a new constitution.

Will the West embrace and support Noah Feldman's mobile idea of an Islamic democracy as an option for a new form of government in Iraq? The future is unknowable, but as After Jihad has clearly laid out:
Change is needed before it is too late.
Review by Susie Dow, editor of The Blogiston Post at She can be reached by email at Originally posted at Failure is Impossible

For an informative article on Noah Feldman and his work assisting the Iraqi people with a new constitution, see American Will Advise Iraqis on Writing New Constitution by Jennifer 8. Lee May 11, 2003.

Tuesday, July 15


The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have written a new memorandum to President Bush dated July 14, 2003, Intelligence Unglued.

On National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice:
Surely Dr. Rice cannot persist in her insistence that she learned only on June 8, 2003 about former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s mission to Niger in February 2002, when he determined that the Iraq-Niger report was a con-job. Wilson’s findings were duly reported to all concerned in early March 2002. And, if she somehow missed that report, the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristoff on May 6 recounted chapter and verse on Wilson’s mission, and the story remained the talk of the town in the weeks that followed.

Rice’s denials are reminiscent of her claim in spring 2002 that there was no reporting suggesting that terrorists were planning to hijack planes and slam them into buildings. In September, the joint congressional committee on 9/11 came up with a dozen such reports.
And it gets even hotter:
Recommendation #1

We recommend that you call an abrupt halt to attempts to prove Vice President Cheney “not guilty.” His role has been so transparent that such attempts will only erode further your own credibility. Equally pernicious, from our perspective, is the likelihood that intelligence analysts will conclude that the way to success is to acquiesce in the cooking of their judgments, since those above them will not be held accountable. We strongly recommend that you ask for Cheney’s immediate resignation.
This looks to be the strongest Memorandum to the President to date. During a brief interview today on NPR, Ray McGovern (who is a member of the steering committee for VIPS) replied that membership and interest in VIPS was still growing. VIPS now has 30 members.

Previous memorandums and opinions published by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and an interview with Ray McGovern:

February 8, 2003 Re: War on Iraq

March 15, 2003 Re: Cooking Intelligence for War

March 18, 2003 Re: Forgery, Hyperbole, Half-Truth: A Problem

April 26, 2003 Re: The Stakes in the Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction

May 1, 2003 Re: Intelligence Fiasco

May 19, 2003 Re: We are Perplexed at the US Refusal to Permit the Return of UN Inspectors to Iraq

May 25, 2003 We need Inspectors to Return to Iraq by Ray McGovern

June 26, 2003 William Rivers Pitt interview with Ray McGovern at

June 27, 2003 Cheney, Forgery and the CIA, Not Business as Usual by Ray McGovern

July 14, 2003 Re: Intelligence Unglued

Monday, July 14

when is a base a base?

Gen. Tommy Franks announced that Halliburton is going to be building semi-permanent wooden buildings (you can call them barracks if you like) most likely under the LOGCAP III contract. But wait, didn't Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld say something in April about no bases in Iraq?
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday the United States has not considered seeking permanent military bases in postwar Iraq and said the likelihood of such an arrangement was low.

- April 21, 2003 Reuters Rumsfeld: No Discussions of U.S. Bases in Iraq
From the New York Times article of July 11, 2003:
At the same time, the Army has hired Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary to feed and house up to 100,000 troops in Iraq. The contractor could erect large tents, but an Army spokesman said today that the $200 million project ordered last month could also include semi-permanent wooden buildings similar to what American troops in Kosovo use.


Dan Carlson, a spokesman for the Army's Field Support Command in Rock Island, Ill., said the agreement with Kellogg Brown & Root called for the company to provide housing for up to 100,000 forces at about 20 sites throughout Iraq. The order was first reported this week by Inside the Army, a specialized publication about Army matters.
Question: Are semi-permanent wooden buildings not really considered bases?

Company Halliburton KBR Government Operations
Award Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity 10 year contract
Task Order $200 million dollars
Agency Army Material Command
Date of RFP
Date of Award December 14, 2001
Date of TO June 2003
Nature of work For support services to US military in Iraq under LOGCAPIII. KBRGO will provide for the construction of facilities and infrastructure of base camps including billeting, mess hall, food preparation, potable water, sanitation, showers, laundry, transportation, utilities, warehousing and other logistical support. Also included is support of the Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, Integration (RSOI) process of U.S. Forces as they enter or depart their theater of operation by sea, air or rail.
Franks Sees Decision Soon on Rotation System for G.I.'s
By Eric Schmitt
New York Times
July 11, 2003
For additional references, see our bpost of June 21: Halliburton Update as of June 21

Task Orders totaled $596.8 million as of June 20, 2003. The new task order would bring the total up to $796.8 million if the task order for $200 million was not included in the June 20th figure provided by Reuters in the New York Times.

Question: Isn't a "base camp" a base?

peas and questions

Black-eyed peas are on their way to Iraq.
Black-eyed peas are a staple of the Iraqi diet. Muleshoe Pea & Bean had black-eyed peas. It was a natural for the two to be linked.

But making it happen in the short window frame allowed by government contracts directed at providing aid to the country has left the small family-owned business scrambling.

The deadline for 70 truckloads of black-eyed peas to be in Houston is Monday, so the pressure is on for Nicky and Ed Nichols, Muleshoe Pea & Bean owners, and their employees.

"We're sending out about 50 of those semi loads," said Deborah Nichols.
Company Yellowstone Bean of Billings, Mont
Subcontractor Muleshoe Pea and Bean Company
Award $1,190,000 (based on June 10th market price)
Date of RFP
Date of Award prior to June 14, 2003
Nature of work To ship 3.5 million pounds of black-eyed peas to Iraq.
Muleshoe black-eyes head to Iraq
By Kay Ledbetter
Amarillo Globe News
June 15, 2003

This might be a subcontract with Skylink. Or, it might be something else. We are not even sure it is being paid as a US government contract. But someone is paying for it so we decided to go ahead and list it below.

If it is a sub with Skylink, it's eating up a very large chunk of their $10.2 million dollar contract. Hmmm.
A Singaporean company has won the contract to deliver cargo and ground services at Baghdad's international airport, a local newspaper said Saturday.

The Straits Times said Singapore Airport Terminal Services - leading a consortium of companies - had secured the contract for the airport due to reopen this month.

The company, which handles cargo at Changi Airport, was one of 50 Singapore companies to tender for business contracts in post-war Iraq.
Company Singapore Airport Terminal Services
Award $5-8 million dollars
Date of RFP
Date of Award prior to July 12, 2003
Nature of work To deliver cargo and ground services at Baghdad's international airport
Singapore firm wins contract for air cargo services at Baghdad Airport
The Star Online
July 12, 2003

ring ring

We're still making our way thru our overflowing inbox. A number of contracts and subcontracts have come to light in recent articles. Unfortunately, many of them are without dollar amounts.

Two caught our eye.

Bechtel has received the go ahead from the USAID to proceed with repair of Iraq's communications system for $45 million dollars. As this is part of the original $680 million dollar infrastructure award, we consider it similar to a task order (TO) and have labeled it as such.
The U.S. Agency for International Development said the $45 million would fund two communications projects. The funding is part of an existing $680 million contract given to Bechtel in April to repair Iraq's infrastructure.


The first Bechtel project covers rebuilding a 1,243 mile (2,000 km) fiber optic ''backbone'' from Mosul in the north through Baghdad to Nasiriya and Umm Qasr in the south.


The second project was aimed at partially reconstituting the public switched network in Baghdad. Ten of 33 switches were damaged during the war and USAID said the plan was to install four switches that would restore 120,000 telephone lines out of 280,000 not currently working.

Another goal was to install a satellite gateway that would enable about half of the country to make international calls by mid to late August.
Company Bechtel
TO $45 million reward
Agency U.S. Agency for International Development
Date of RFP
Date of Award July 10, 2003
Nature of work
Bechtel gets $45 million for Iraq communications
By Sue Pleming
July 10, 2003

The second contract of interest is described in a July 10, 2003 press release on Business Wire. Is this related to the $45 million dollar Bechtel contract? Or possibly Raytheon? Why is there so much mystery surrounding naming the primary contractor funding communications work? Is it that subcontracts have already been tendered prior to the USAID signing off on the work? Just what is up with telecommunications' contracts in Iraq?
Globecomm Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:GCOM), a global provider of end-to-end satellite-based communications solutions, today announced that it has been working with a customer in the effort to restore certain telecommunications in Iraq. The Company has implemented a satellite circuit into Baghdad, enabling voice connectivity and Internet access services.
Subcontractor Globecomm Systems Inc.
Date of RFP
Date of Award
Nature of work Implemented a satellite circuit into Baghdad, enabling voice connectivity and Internet access services.
Globecomm Systems Rapidly Assists Customer In Enabling Voice Circuits And Internet Connectivity Into Baghdad
Business Wire
July 10, 2003

Sunday, July 13

oil conference

The US Army Corps of Engineers is sponsoring a pre-proposal conference in Dallas, Texas on July 14 Restore Iraqi Oil as part of awarding two new competetively bid oil infrastructure contracts.
The presolicitation notice, available at FedBizOpps, states that the Corps will award two Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) cost plus award fee 24-month contracts with three one-year options. The maximum value for the life of each contract will be $500 million and will have a minimum value of $500,000.

The contracts to be awarded will replace the non-competitive contract for emergency services work related to the oil infrastructure that was awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root by the Corps prior to the start of the war in Iraq.
Limited details about the conference are available at the Military Housing and Lodging Institute at although you can read it below because this is all we found at the site.
Tentative Agenda for July 14, 2003
Houston Ballroom, Adams Mark Hotel
400 North Olive Street, Dallas, TX 75201

0730 to 0900
Buffet Breakfast & Registration

0900 to 0930
Introduction & Presentation

0930 to 1030
Initial Q&A Session With Expert Panel

1030 to 1100

1100 to 1200
Continue Q&A With Expert Panel

1230 to 1300
Press Conference

1300 to 1500
Q&A If Required + Informal Networking
Yawn. There are only a hand full of companies who even qualify to bid for the contracts and their names have already been in the papers for months. As you can see, bpost's cynicism is still alive, well and kicking.

seized assets

Iraq Report in its recent article British Troops Seize Money, Suspected Drugs in Iraqi Raid carries news from Centcom that 33 million dinars ($16,500) and $11,000 dollars US has been confiscated during a drug raid in Khur Al-Zubayr, located in the Al-Basrah Governorate.

The AP reported on July 1, 2003 that additional Iraqi funds, previously frozen in the early 1990's, have been transferred to the US.
Banks in the Cayman Islands have transferred US $140 million in frozen Iraqi assets to the U.S. Federal Reserve, the British territory's government said.

The money's transfer was confirmed Monday by Assistant Financial Secretary Deborah Drummond. She said the funds were turned over by various U.S. banks with branches in the Cayman Islands to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in March.

U.S. officials couldn't immediately confirm whether the money had gone into the new Development Fund for Iraq.
There is no way to know if these funds were previously accounted for in the Terrorist Assets Report. One would assume so but as the numbers have had a pesky habit of shifting around, your guess is as good as bpost's.


Centcom news is available at

The Coaltion Provisional Authority now has a website at
The website carries transcripts of speeches by CPA administrator Bremer and other officials, fact sheets on Iraqi ministries, public-service announcements, press releases, and official documents such as regulations and orders issued by the CPA.

Saturday, July 12

who really was a ba'ath party member?

Al-Bunnia received a sub-contract on May 30 from Bechtel for the demolition, design and construction of a bridge bypass damaged by aerial bombing. The amount of the sub-contract has not been disclosed. Engineering News Report described the sub-contract in an article Nation-Building Is Hard Work on June 9:
On May 30, Bechtel awarded its first land transportation subcontract to Al-Bunnia Trading Co., a 93-year-old Baghdad-based construction firm, to design and construct a 1.5-km bridge bypass on Highway 10 near where the Al Mat Bridge was hit in an aerial strike, leaving just one lane in place. The highway is located about 300 km west of Baghdad. The bypass is expected to take two to three weeks to complete. When finished, reconstruction work on the bridge will begin, which is expected to be a three- to six-month process. Al-Bunnia will provide field engineering services and construct the bypass. "This is what we came over to do," says Clifford G. Mumm, Bechtel's program director. "We're committed to developing a work program that maximizes use of Iraqi contractors and workers."
The Al-Bunnia family is one of several prominent and wealthy families in Iraq. But were the Al-Bunnia family members of the Ba'ath party?

Business Week slipped a rather sanitized sentence into its commentary on May 26, 2003 How to Get Iraq's Economy On the Mend
The Al-Bunnias, for instance, own what may be Iraq's largest private company, H. Mahmood Al-Bunnia & Sons Group. But their annual revenue is only around $30 million.


The Al-Bunnias and other merchant families can be tapped later for expertise in the rebuilding. Of course, all had to deal with Saddam's regime to survive. But these groups appear to be operating real businesses, not just offshoots of the state.
"Real businesses" are apparently exempt from close examination for ties to the Ba'ath party while those who simply wished to earn larger salaries and felt the only option was to join the party, have been fired en masse. This is not to excuse the excessive abuse of those who were once in power but rather calls in to question the lack of some practical and consistent application of fairness.

The New York Times on May 10, 2003 looked at some of Iraq's wealthy families in an article Iraq's Old Money Elite Vies for Stake in Rebuilding the Nation. Al-Bunnia was one of the families.
Khalil al-Bunnia, heir apparent to one of Iraq's biggest family empires, says he had to be "flexible" to thrive under Saddam Hussein.

"I have the most expensive cars in the world, and I gave 11 of them away as gifts," he said, flashing a picture of a mint-condition Rolls-Royce from the 1920's. "I want to get that one back," he added.

Mr. Bunnia is second-in-command after his father of the Bunnia industrial group. The family holdings include a major construction company, dairies, cattle farms and food companies that make canned sauces, frozen desserts, chocolates and candies. The family also holds stakes in a bank, an insurance company, a textile mill, a Pepsi bottling franchise and the Palestine Hotel, which is located in Baghdad.
So were the Al-Bunnia family Ba'ath party members? Certainly they could afford not to be but what if it turns out that they were? Is it appropriate to award a sub-contract for reconstruction to the Al-Bunnia family if they had close ties to the Ba'ath party?

Those financially less fortunate were given far fewer options. Pay offs of say a rare luxury Rolls Royce to survive Saddam Hussein's secret police sweeps was not an option the ordinary Iraqi could afford.

Resisting Truth

The United States has so far dragged its heels in quickly resolving the treatment and status of former Ba'ath party members. The message has been mixed and inconsistent. Are they all bad? Most bad, some good? Some bad, some good? Why are some Ba'ath party supporters immune from any censure while others find themselves amongst those lumped into mass firings?

The AP reports that beginning on July 19th, the US will undertake recruiting to train a new Iraqi army to replace those dismissed by Paul Bremer on May 23. Ba'ath party members, however, need not apply.
Members of the four top levels in Saddam's now-banned Baath party will not be allowed to join the new army, said Eaton, an American who will be in charge of the training.

"This is the seed of the future Iraqi armed forces,'' he told reporters. "They will be representative of all people of Iraq.''


Officers in the new army will be obliged to sign statements renouncing the Baath party, according to Walter Slocombe, a senior security and defense adviser in the U.S.-led provisional authority.


He said members of Saddam's army who had the rank of colonel or above will not be accepted in the new army. Baathist officers who reached the party's four most senior levels will not receive stipends to be paid to former servicemen starting July 15.
What of lower level members of the former military services who were Ba'ath party members with flawed character traits that surpass those of their fired superiors? Why are they given the pass? Does the US expect to weed them out thru informants? How is this any better than the very apparatus of secret evidence they are attempting to replace?

Several organizations have suggested the UN support the process of a Truth Commission similar to the ones used in South Africa and Latin America.
The [Iraqi truth] commission could explore ways of promoting reconciliation and harmony between different ethnic and religious groups in Iraq. It could also examine the role other countries have played in supporting and sustaining Saddam's rule - a form of collusion that risks being airbrushed from history. Finally, an Iraqi truth commission could serve as a potent reminder to the international community, and to Western powers in particular, of the consequences of supporting repressive rule in the Middle East.
Certainly an appearance of favoritism for some who happen to be wealthy, a pass on those with a lower profile, while others of lesser means are receiving death threats (in some cases with no justification other than someone's single word) will not play out well with the Iraqi people in the long run.

An article in MSNBC Retribution and justice - how to punish Iraqis who informed for Saddam Hussein describes a growing atmosphere of vigilante justice.
''With the blessing of God, we will start the campaign to execute the Baathist monkeys,'' reads the Arabic scrawled on a wall in Baghdad's Aden Square.
Vigilante justice may soon fill the void should the US not clearly define the process of de-Ba'athification for the Iraqi people. While it may be useful for the White House to have an "evil" enemy in the former Ba'ath party, provocative language targeting all former party members has the potential for recreating the reading of the list of names at the guillotine of the French Revolution.

When prominent wealthy families are seen to enjoy no adverse effects for their tacit engagement with the former regime of Saddam Hussein, sooner or later, the ordinary Iraqi will notice and ask "Why not him?" With no sense of justice, the law could shift into the hands of the angry and disenfranchised. It is at this point that all hope for a fututre of a self-governing Iraqi democracy could be set back for a very long time.

the weather watcher

Probably the single most intriguing article we have come across is the following by Billy Cox of Florida Today Meteorologist's work featured in national weather magazine. Cox writes about Hank Brandli, a meterologist who shares his opinions on recent satellite imagery of Iraq. Read the whole article. Brandli also has an opinion on September 11th that is not so far fetched as one might think after some time for thought.
On May 25, while scanning the Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program images pipelined into his desktop from 450 miles in orbit, Hank Brandli skidded at a nighttime photo of Iraq. It looked familiar. But not exactly.

Brandli retrieved another DMSP image he'd archived from May 3. He compared the two. The most recent photo showed a blazing corridor of light running the length of Kuwait, south to north, all the way to the Iraqi border. The image wasn't there on May 3.

"It's going right up to Iraq's oil fields," says the retired Air Force colonel from his home in Palm Bay. "Maybe I'm full of s---. Maybe all they're doing is building a highway to put in McDonald's and sell hamburgers. But why go that way? I think we're in bed with Kuwait. I think we're pumping oil out of Iraq to pay for this war."


"You look for patterns. Patterns tell you things," says Brandli, who has masters degrees in meteorology, aeronautics and astronautics, and the author of "Satellite Meteorology" for the Air Force's Air Weather Service in 1976. "With night photos, you can distinguish natural gas burnoff, which looks globular, from city lights. And suddenly, over just a few weeks, we've got this straight line of lights leading all the way to those beautiful wells in southeastern Iraq.

"If you're building pipelines, you've got to have power, you've got to have light -- trucks and personnel and food and all sorts of support. If I had to bet, I'd say it looks like we're running Iraqi oil through Kuwait. It would make sense, because Kuwait's got its infrastructure intact."

catch up

Bpost has a little catching up to do so forgive us for the even more than usual randomness of our posts while we make our way thru an overflowing inbox.

While technically the following are not contracts, it would not surprise us to see the money awarded to one of several private military contractors (PMC's) now operating in Iraq. Vinnell and Dyncorp both come to mind.


Award $25 million
Agency State Department's Reward for Justice Program
Date of RFP
Pre-planning No comment
Date of Award July 3, 2003
Nature of work For information that either leads to the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirms that the former Iraqi leader is dead.
U.S. offers $25 million reward for Saddam
CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf and correspondents Barbara Starr and John King
July 3, 2003

Award $15 million reward
Agency State Department's Reward for Justice Program
Date of RFP
Date of Award July 3, 2003
Nature of work For information that either leads to the capture of Qusay Hussein or confirms that the former Iraqi leader's son is dead.
U.S. offers $25 million reward for Saddam
CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf and correspondents Barbara Starr and John King
July 3, 2003

Award $15 million reward
Agency State Department's Reward for Justice Program
Date of RFP
Date of Award July 3, 2003
Nature of work For information that either leads to the capture of Uday Hussein or confirms that the former Iraqi leader's son is dead.
U.S. offers $25 million reward for Saddam
CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf and correspondents Barbara Starr and John King
July 3, 2003

more hooking up

An upcoming forum ReBUILDING IRAQ in Arlington, Virginia USA will be on August 28-29, 2003. The New Fields press release describes the conference as follows:
The Rebuilding Iraq Conference agenda include key business issues relevant to today's events such as Contracting Challenges and Subcontract opportunities as well as Strategy for entry in Iraq.

The event mission is to provide clear strategies and positive solutions to the companies interested to Participate in Rebuilding and Relief Effort in a New Iraq.
Scheduled speakers include:
Former US Secretary of Defence William Cohen
Former US Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor
General (Ret.) Daniel Christman, Former assistant to the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
Key representatives from companies which have been awarded contracts
To view the complete agenda and speakers list, visit:

Registration for the 2 day conference is $1295 to $1850. To register, in the US call 908-292-1112, or email and in the Middle East call the Dubai office at +971 (4) 268-6870

Saturday, July 5

hooking up

Conference: London July 15

There is an upcoming one-day conference on reconstruction in Iraq scheduled for London on July 15th. Registration is £528.75 including VAT.
The Iraq Reconstruction Update has been organized by the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), New Civil Engineer (NCE) magazine and Construction News (CN) magazine. [...] The conference will focus on addressing many of the key questions currently occupying the time of companies looking to position themselves to do future business in Iraq.
Iraq Reconstruction Update
Date: Tuesday 15 July 2003
Location: London

MEED Conference Registration
3rd Floor
151 Rosebery Avenue
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7505 6044
Fax: +44 (0)20 7505 6001


And Bechtel has an upcoming conference in the works for Basrah...
Contractor Conferences A fifth in a series of contractor conferences is being planned for Basrah in mid-July.

Bechtel's June 18 contractor conference in Baghdad drew roughly 1,000 attendees. The purpose was to reach out to Iraqi contractors, obtain prequalification information from contractors, create realistic expectations, and explain the subcontracting process. To date, more than 7,800 companies from 93 countries have registered on Bechtel's supplier database.
The materials distributed at each conference were identical according to Bechtel. Read them here:

No contact information for registering for the Bechtel conference was available.

CNN Money reported on July 1 in Bechtel gives work to 6 Iraqi firms that Bechtel released an updated list of the 34 subcontractors on June 30. We could not locate the new list. Bechtel does have a list of 28 subcontractors dated June 10, 2003 that includes entries for June 15.

The CNN Money article clearly identifies one subcontractor as a Kuwaiti company, Rabat Pest Control not included on the June 10 list. Oh well. We tried. Here's the June 10th list:


In a recent Washington Post article bpost noted, Timothy Carney brought Raytheon to our attention:
[...] outside contractor Raytheon, provided a weak communications network; Internet and printer capabilities were down again from June 14 to 16.
We just stumbled on the following sentence in an article by Abid Aslam U.S. Contracts To Rebuild Iraq Spawn Cottage Industry from July 02, 2003:
Robert Adams, chief executive of New Global Initiatives, said his start-up is rebuilding town halls and providing Internet connections for an Iraqi university under a 2.6-million-dollar US government sub-contract from a bigger contractor, which he declined to name.
Raytheon or should we keep guessing?