The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Tuesday, September 30

up, up, up

In following the contracts related to reconstruction and military actions in Iraq, bpost has come across a variety of stories from a variety of sources. One such story was reported in the St. Petersburg Times and posted here at bpost on June 28 with a short follow up from the St. Petersburg Times on the 29th.
As the United States geared up for war in Iraq, MacDill Air Force Base scrambled to provide temporary offices for foreign military officers streaming in from around the world.

Money was no object.
Qucik recap: MacDill contracted out for a quick expansion of its facilities. The bill is in and it was $467,000 dollars over the original budget of $110,000 dollars. It's not just that the overage was a problem, MacDill may also have violated federal law.

Three months later, and The St. Petersburg Times places MacDill once again in the limelight.
Sen. Bill Nelson has requested two investigations into how the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base inflated budget numbers at the Pentagon's request to hide $20 million from Congress.


The Pentagon investigation centers on an agreement between the Pentagon comptroller's office in Washington and the Special Operations Command comptroller at MacDill.

The plan, according to defense officials and base documents, called for Special Operations to pad its proposed budget by $20-million so the money could be used later by the Pentagon for some other purpose.
Keeping in mind MacDill is only one base, how much bigger is this story going to get? What will be the final total on this?

When will our legislators in Washington begin taking accountability seriously?

Sunday, September 28

cia vs the white house

Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times What I Didn't Find in Africa that appeared on July 6. What Wilson didn't find was evidence that Niger had attempted to sell yellowcake uranium to Iraq.

Eight days later, On July 14, Robert Novak's column,Mission to Niger, identified Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative. Novak attributed the information in his column to "two senior administration officials". Two days later, David Corn's article A White House Smear, appeared in The Nation.
Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security--and break the law--in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?
Meanwhile, the CIA is not pleased. Not at all.

Today's Washington Post carries an article Bush Administration Is Focus of Inquiry about the CIA's request that the Justice Department follow up.
Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.
The bloggers have a lot to say. Enjoy.

Atrios at Eschaton
Josh Marshall
Mark Kleiman


There is a good article today, In Iraq, private contractors lighten load on U.S. troops in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Borzou Daragahi on private military contractors. It is very important to understand what exactly "privatization" of the military means. It doesn't save the tax payer any money but it does save on political back lash. But saving on political back lash takes away accountability US tax payers now expect from the Department of Defense.
"If you're going to keep the number of troops down, this is the way to do it," said Wempen. "The expense is the same or more. But politically it's much less expensive."

Staffed by ex-military personnel, the private firms are playing an increasingly visible role in Iraq.

Armed employees of Custer Battles, a Fairfax, Va., firm, guard Baghdad airport, manning the type of checkpoints often operated by American soldiers.

Erinys, a British company with offices in the Middle East and South Africa, guards the oil fields.

Global Risk, a British firm that offers "risk management," has the contract to provide armed protection for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led occupation power.

DynCorp of Reston, Va., has been hired to help train Iraq's police.
You should recognise some of the names by now if you have been following bpost's ongoing list of contracts.

Saturday, September 27

upcoming events


Caspar Weinberger will be participating in an upcoming conference Doing Business in Iraq:the Private Sector Two additional conferences will be held later in Philadelphia and Chicago.
Though still in development, the conference's possible subjects include investment opportunities in Iraq, developing the economic master plan for the country, infrastructure development opportunities in Iraq, privatization of the Iraqi oil sector, security, understanding the contracting process for the reconstruction of Iraq, and priority sectors for development: communications/telecommunications, agriculture and health care.
When: November 13
Where: Black Point Inn, Scarborough, Maine
Sponsors: UMaine's College of Business, Public Policy and Health; William S. Cohen Center for International Policy and Commerce; U.S.-Iraq Business Alliance
Cost: $1,500 per person
For more information: Call UMaine's college of business at 207-581-1968


This coming Monday and Tuesday, State Department officials will be present at a series of forums at Ball State University in Muncie, IN to answer questions on recent events in Iraq. Forums include:
"Oil, Water, and Conflict in the Middle East," Ball State Student Center, room 102, at 11 a.m. Panelists include Stephen Buck, former U.S. deputy chief of mission in Baghdad.

"Religion and Conflict in the Middle East," Burkhardt Building, room 109, at 2 p.m. Panelists will include Buck.

"The War Against Terrorism: The Political Use of Violence," Burkhardt Building, room 109, at 3:30 p.m. Panelists will include Reeker.

"Media and Formulation of Public Opinion in the Middle East," Burkhardt Building, room 109, 7:30 p.m. Panelists will include Reeker.

Friday, September 26

next tuesday

According to GovExec, the Senate Appropriations Committee will address the White House’s request for the $87 billion supplemental.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the Bush administration's $87 billion supplemental request for Iraq and Afghanistan Tuesday morning, and GOP aides said it was likely to go to the floor later that day.

Appropriations ranking member Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., remains furious at the fast pace at which Republicans are seeking to move the bill, however, and he may seek to delay its consideration, although a spokeswoman said no decision has been made.
Bpost will continue to look for more details on the break down of the $87 billion dollars.

Thursday, September 25


A new contract for troop housing in Iraq is in the news but so far we have been unable to locate the contract announcement at Defense Link.
FMD will manufacture and deliver six Force Provider Modules, six Modification Systems Cold Weather and six Modification Systems Power Generation. The Force Provider Modules are entire camps that house 550 soldiers each and include air conditioned tents, showers, latrines, kitchen equipment and laundry facilities, Mattingley said. Most of these facilities, such as the showers, laundries and latrines, are "containerized," or packaged in a mobile unit that is 8 feet by 8 feet by 20 feet.

Frank Lehman, vice president of program management, said a complete module includes 91 containers and some small trailers and covers up to 15 acres. FMD has delivered four Force Provider Modules from past contracts, Mattingley said.
Company Sachs Freeman Associates Inc.,
Award $22 million
Agency Army
Date of RFP
Date of Award Week prior to September 26, 2003
Nature of work To rush deliver living quarters and other equipment to troops in Iraq.
Military contract boosts manufacturer's revenues
by Amy Limbert
The Business Gazette
September 26, 2003

rumsfeld speaks

Defense Link has the Prepared Testimony of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Washington, DC, Wednesday, September 24, 2003 for the Senate Appropriations Committee. He outlines, in general terms, an overall spending plan in Afghanistan and Iraq. Excerpt of the statement:
Iraq’s interim leaders are already taking steps to make Iraq hospitable to trade and foreign investment. Last weekend, Iraq’s finance minister announced sweeping reforms of Iraq’s tax and foreign investment laws. The Iraqi economy will be open to foreign capital and investment, with 100% foreign ownership permitted in all sectors except natural resources. Tariffs on imports will be 5% across the board, except for necessities like food, medicine and clothing-which will be tariff-free.

It is safe to say that, with the implementation of these provisions, Iraq will have some of the most enlightened-and inviting-tax and investment laws in the free world.

But to attract foreign investment, Iraq must have more than just attractive tax and investment laws; it must also have a reasonable security environment.

This is why the President has requested $5 billion to train Iraqis to help defend their country. This includes $2 billion for public safety, including the training of an additional 40,000 police in the next 18 months; $2 billion to train a new three-division Iraqi Army and an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps; and almost $1 billion for the Iraqi justice system. All of these investments are critical to the efforts of General Abizaid, General Sanchez and their troops’ efforts.
Just to clarify, the $87 billion dollars is an emergency supplemental request and is in addition to the Department of Defense appropriations bill passed earlier this week.
The Defense appropriations bill, passed 95-0 by the Senate on Thursday, provides $368 billion overall to the department. The House passed the measure on Wednesday.

breaking it down

$87 Billion Dollars, where’s it going to?

Several articles have provided details of how the White House is hoping to allocate and distribute the funds. The Washington Post yesterday outlined the cost of just rebuilding Iraq in “four dominant development thrusts involving national security, electric power, water resources and oil infrastructure” in U.S. Tells How Billions of Dollars Would Rebuild Iraq
The $20.3 billion request for reconstructing Iraq, part of the administration's $87 billion supplemental request for the coming fiscal year to support the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, is dominated by spending proposals in four broad areas: $5.7 billion to rehabilitate and upgrade Iraq's electric power infrastructure; $4.2 billion to fund and equip the new Iraqi police, military and constabulary forces; $3.7 billion to upgrade water and sewer systems; and $2.1 billion to upgrade Iraq's oil industry
A September 17 th press briefing at the Department of Defense Briefing on the status of the New Iraqi Army and Police Force clarifies some of the details regarding training of Iraqi security personnel although not the actual expenditures.

Bpost keeps hoping someone will leak a copy of the 59 page budget report on line.
Oil Industry: $2.1 billion
To upgrade Iraq's oil industry
$55 million for a rapid pipeline repair team

Power: $5.7 billion
To rehabilitate and upgrade Iraq's electric power infrastructure
$2.9 billion upgrading power generation
Let’s talk about power for a minute. Another recent article in the Washington Post, Crossed Wires Deprived Iraqis of Electric Power goes into detail on Iraq’s infrastructure and power needs. Due to the strain of 12 years of sanctions, increased demand, and several wars, the once state of the art industry is in shambles.
Estimates from Iraqi exiles participating in a State Department planning program for a post-Hussein government suggested that power-sector repairs would cost as much as $18 billion. Yet the Bush administration's initial reconstruction plan called for devoting just $230 million of a $680 million Bechtel contract to electricity system repairs. "The telltale signs were there," said the American electrical engineer. "But either because of sheer carelessness or because the [U.S.] government didn't want to reveal how expensive it would be, there was massive under-planning."
Did you catch the number? $18 billion dollars. The latest request from the White House is $5.7 billion, a number already short by $12.3 billion.
Security: $4.2 billion
To fund and equip the new Iraqi police, military and constabulary forces
$2 billion for a new 40,000-member Iraqi Army
$800 million a corps of 1,500 international police trainers
$400 million construction of (2) 4,000-bed maximum security prisons
$200 million to secure judges and courthouses from terrorist attacks
$150 million for a nationwide 911 system
$137.2 million for helicopter and medium airlift plans
$100 million for a witness protection program.
$50 million outlays for traffic police
$8 million for the personal security of the Iraqi oil minister and his director generals
$6 million to send promising Iraqi officers to overseas academies
$348 million unaccounted for

Water: $11.7 billion
To upgrade water and sewer systems
$8 billion to provide new infrastructure for safe drinking water
$50 million irrigation culverts on the Euphrates River

Transportation: $718 million
$303 million to restart Iraq's railroads
$240 million to fix roads and bridges
$165 million to upgrade airports
$10 million training for air traffic controllers

Other: $562 million
$393 million to refurbish 200 of Iraq's remaining 240 hospitals
$150 million state-of-the-art children's hospital
$15 million to fund an Iraqi human rights office
$4 million Nationwide zip code system
There will undoubtedly be more to come.

Tuesday, September 23

blogger tech stuff

One day, we woke up to an email asking us where the bpost was.


The posts in the archives were invisible, only readable by going into "view source". So if you get a blank page, check the date on the link you were lead to and try going thru archives on the home page.

perle watch

According to an announcement published in the Federal Register / Vol. 68, No. 168 / Friday, August 29, 2003 , (pdf version) the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee (DPBAC) just held two days of meetings.
The Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee will meet in closed session at the Pentagon on September 18, 2003 from 1000 to 2100 and September 19, 2003 from 0900 to 1500.
Over the next two weeks, members of the Defense Policy Board should start making the talk show rounds sharing their vision for a better world.

Former Chairman but still a DPBAC member, Richard Perle, has already put in an appearance on the PBS News Hour.
RICHARD PERLE: People are impatient when they can't get electricity. I was without it until earlier today. For four days. And I was awfully impatient, after the storm we had here. So it's perfectly understandable that people [in Iraq] are impatient.

Monday, September 22

a very bad idea

An article has appeared in the Washington Post that warrants attention and reading, Economic Overhaul for Iraq , Only Oil Excluded From Foreign Ownership
The U.S.-led occupation authority here has ordered the overhaul of fundamental elements of Iraq's socialist economy and instituted wide-ranging free-market reforms that will allow full foreign ownership in every sector except oil, U.S. and Iraqi officials said today.

The new policy, enacted on Saturday by U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer, allows foreign firms to enter and potentially dominate key elements of the economy, from banking to manufacturing, that had been off-limits to outside ownership. Although the sale of businesses to foreigners could prove controversial in this fiercely nationalistic country, U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said the plan offered a "real promise" of economic revival in Iraq, which is struggling to cope with rampant unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and unproductive state-run industries.

The imposition of free-market reforms in Iraq has long been a goal of the Bush administration. The decision to enact the changes now is part of an American effort to accelerate the recovery of Iraq's decayed economy, which U.S. officials hope will help promote stability.
Next stop, the US? After all, it might boost the economy.

Thursday, September 18


A short article in the Washington Post, Kennedy Says Case for Iraq War Was Fraud
recapping an AP interview with Senator Kennedy (D-MA). Bpost would very much like to see a full transcript of the AP interview.
Kennedy said a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office showed that only about $2.5 billion of the $4 billion being spent monthly on the war can be accounted for by the Bush administration.
So. Who does know where the money is going?


International Resources Group has posted a job listing at Foreign Policy Association. Seems like an odd place to announce a job.
International Resources Group, a professional services firm located in Washington, DC, is currently seeking Water and Sanitation experts to serve a nine month consulting assignment in Iraq under a current contract funded by USAID.

Qualification: General knowledge of urban water and sanitation systems including specifically rehabilitation and repair of facilities. Must possess appropriate engineering education and demonstrated experience in senior positions in firms or agencies overseeing water and sanitation projects. Must be immediately available. Expected to have 10 years of work experience, at least half overseas. Preference given for knowledge and work experience in Arabic countries, and for Arabic language skills.

Only qualified candidates interested and immediately available for this assignment should respond.
Quick. You only have until September 26 to apply. Contact International Resources Group by email at R&

What do you make of this?


George Soros' is the chariman of the Open Society Institute. He has started a new project that bpost is pretty excited about, Iraq Revenue Watch.
In an effort to ensure that Iraqi oil revenues are managed in a transparent manner, Open Society Institute Chairman George Soros has launched a new initiative called Iraq Revenue Watch.

Iraq Revenue Watch will monitor Iraq's oil industry to ensure that it is managed with the highest standards of transparency and that the benefits of national oil wealth flow to the people of Iraq. Iraq Revenue Watch complements existing Open Society Institute initiatives that monitor revenues produced by the extractive industries.
The Iraq Revenue Watch website has a list of resources with links to pdf files for Documents Governing US Policy in Iraq, UN Resolutions on Iraq and Reports from Experts Regarding Iraq's Reconstruction. You can find them under resources in their menu bar.

new thing

Lots to do. We'll be trying to clean up any of the broken links over the next few days. And we'll be trying to get thru our overflowing inbox.

Everyone is talking about the $87 billion dollars that the White House is requesting. It was formally submitted today and is rumored to be 59 pages long. Hopefully more details will be forthcoming over the next week.

Where is it going? How is it being spent? And who is going to be accounting for it?
The 59-page document Bush sent lawmakers contained no major changes in his proposal but did provide a first look at some of its details. It's a random list: $13 million for mobile X-ray searching devices, $345 million for soldiers' housing units, $73 million to bolster anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan, $20 million for Hellfire missiles and much more.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would be given authority to transfer more than $7 billion to different accounts after notifying Congress. Before approving a $79 billion package for operations in Iraq and elsewhere last spring, lawmakers limited a similar Bush request.


Bush called for $66 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $21 billion to rebuild the two countries -- all of which would be U.S. expenditures that are not repaid. Of the reconstruction funds, all but $800 million are for Iraq.
Does the above mentioned $345 million for soldiers housing units fall under the LOGCAP III contract that Halliburton holds? Someone ask Wendy Hall.

If that much is being spent on housing units, does it really sound like the US will be leaving anytime soon?

Wednesday, September 17

more mcgovern

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now recently interviewed former CIA analysts Ray McGovern and David MacMichael of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
AMY GOODMAN:Now one of the things we are talking about a lot and seeing a lot is that the same people that were there during the Reagan-Bush years and even before, the Wolfowitzes the Rumsfelds, Cheneys were there then. What was George Bush’s view of these people then?

RAY MCGOVERN: Well, you know it’s really interesting. When we saw these people coming back in town, all of us said who were around in those days said, oh my god, ‘the crazies’ are back – ‘the crazies’ – that’s how we referred to these people.
One of the more interesting sections in the interview deals with David Kaye.
DAVID MACMICHAEL: I think one thing that has to be added about David Kaye, who is identified as a former member of UNSCOM, that is the United Nations weapons inspection team, prior to the 1998 bombing and the departure of the weapons inspectors and prior to their reinitiation under UN resolution 1441, David Kaye in fact, and this is not revealing the identity of an intelligence officer, was in fact a CIA officer at that time.

One of the reasons the initial inspections process broke down was because the United States and other member states of the inspections team began introducing their intelligence officers into this and in fact as it’s been documented, planting listening devices in the places they were going for intelligence purposes, not for weapons inspections purposes.

A second point to remember is the primary task of the intelligence officer is to recruit agents. In other words, one could reasonably assume that, using their cover as weapons inspectors, they were attempting to recruit Iraqi nationals to serve as intelligence agents. Naturally the counterintelligence of any country attempts to block this and it did serve to discredit the initial inspection process. So that is one thing that is important to remember about David Kaye’s background.

Wednesday, September 10

phase II

Bpost didn't know that Phase I had been completed yet. Ah well. President Bush has asked for an additional $87 billion dollars for work in Iraq. It looks like the White House via the USAID is going to start the spending right away. A new USAID solicitation has been posted at FedBizOpps with Request for Proposals issued September 30.

So who will it be? Bechtel or Halliburton?
Iraq Infrastructure Reconstruction -Phase II

Order of Magnitude Threshold: (Estimated) $1.5 billion.

The United States Agency for International Development is seeking the services of qualified engineering, procurement and constructions firms to continue the United States Government efforts to restore critical infrastructure/basic services in Iraq.
Read the rest at FedBizOpps.