The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Thursday, October 30


The Center for Public Integrity has released a report, Winning Contractors, on the relationship of campaign contributions to contracts awarded for reconstruction in Iraq. Gee. What a coincidence.
More than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies donated more money to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush—a little over $500,000—than to any other politician over the last dozen years, the Center found.
They have a great list of contractors, some of the names we haven't come across before.

Go explore the report. Totally loaded with information.

Wednesday, October 29


Bpost has been wondering about media contracts in Iraq for some time.

The Washington Post reports in Speeches Called Propaganda by Walter Pincus on broadcasts in Iraq currently under contract with SAIC.
For the past few weeks, Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer has appeared every Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. on IMN [Iraqi Media Network], the Pentagon-run television network, with a taped message to the Iraqi people about what is going on in their country.


The fledgling IMN has taken over Hussein's 18 television stations, his government radio stations and al-Sabah, the 60,000-circulation national newspaper now published on what was the same site of the newspaper founded by Hussein's son Uday. Since this spring, management has been contracted out to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a San Diego-based defense contractor with a $40 million-plus budget and no experience in media development. SAIC, in turn, has been overseen in Washington by the Defense Department's office that specializes in psychological warfare operations, or psyops.

Lately, IMN is known as "psyops on steroids" in parts of the Pentagon, because there is an additional $100 million in the Iraq supplemental appropriation bill before Congress to pay the winner of a new contract, beginning in January, to create a "world-class" media operation. Twenty-three bidders, including SAIC, and some U.S. and foreign journalistic organizations are to meet in Baghdad next month to discuss plans for turning the enterprise around.
What do you think is their bench mark for "world class"?


Newsday reports in Halliburton Contract Extended in Iraq that the original contract has been extended until the end of the year. The US Army Corps of Engineers sent out information on the new Request for Proposal some time ago but modifications have made the extension necessary.
Halliburton's contract, worth $1.59 billion so far, will be extended until December or January while the government receives and evaluates revised bids for replacement work that could total $2 billion.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the oil industry rehabilitation, already has received competitive bids for replacement contracts, and hoped to announce the winners this month. The Corps said it was forced to revise the workload requirements because of continued sabotage and a need to provide additional security.
Who will the lucky winners be?


nous sommes tous atrios

An unusual event has erupted in the blogosphere. Donald "We Stalk" Luskin has had his lawyer, Jeffrey J. Upton, send a letter to Atrios over at Eschaton.

The letter is a chilling commentary on the state of free speech in America. Those of our bpost readers who are outside of the country are probably unaware just how censored our main stream medias' news has become. The letter just reinforces how much alternative news and intelligent voices are not welcome in the US these days.
Dear “Atrios”:

This firm represents Donald L. Luskin, a Contributing Editor to National Review Online and author and host of, among other activities. You recently linked to Mr. Luskin’s October 7, 2003, posting on his website entitled “Face To Face With Evil,” in which he chronicles his attendance at a lecture and book signing presented by Paul Krugman. You chose the unfortunate caption “Diary of a Stalker” for your link. More importantly, your readers, in responding to your invitation to comment, have posted numerous libelous statements regarding Mr. Luskin. Picking up on the theme you introduced, several have made false assertions that Mr. Luskin has committed the crime of stalking. Such a statement constitutes libel per se, an actionable tort subjecting both the author and the publisher to liability for both actual and punitive damages. As a result of your control over and participation in the comment section of your site, as well as the fact that Mr. Luskin has personally brought these libelous comments to your attention already, you face personal liability for their distribution. Determining your identity for the purpose of making service of process can be easily accomplished through a subpoena to
Read the rest of the letter as well the accompanying articles. Do read the comments.

PS Why is Donald L. Luskin referred to as the Stalker? He wrote an editorial critical of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, We Stalked. He Balked., The Truth Squad is getting to Mr. Krugman, published in the National Review Online, May 7, 2003. That was Luskin's choice of words, not Atrios'.

Bizarre people, these right wingers. We're beginning to think the truth must give them hives: they seem to have such an aversion to it.

Sunday, October 26

money pit

Newsweek has a very long article outlining an overview of the state of reconstruction in Iraq. The $87 Billion Money Pit by Rod Nordland and Michael Hirsh in the November 3, 2003 issue. Hirsh will be answering questions on-line on October 29th.
Six months ago the administration decided to cut corners on normal bidding procedures and hand over large contracts to defense contractors like Bechtel and Halliburton on a limited-bid or no-bid basis. It bypassed the Iraqis and didn’t worry much about accountability to Congress. The plan was for “blitzkrieg” reconstruction. But by sacrificing accountability for speed, America is not achieving either very well right now. For months no one has seemed to be fully in charge of postwar planning. There has been so little transparency that even at the White House “it was almost —impossible to get a sense of what was happening” on the power problem, says one official privy to the discussions.


Saturday, October 25

more pledges

ABC News lists pledges of troops and other miscellaneous contributions to the reconstruction of Iraq. Here's a short excerpt:
Azerbaijan 150-man unit to take part in patrols, law enforcement and protection of religious and historic monuments in Iraq.

Bulgaria 485-member infantry battalion patrolling Karbala, south of Baghdad. An additional 289 will be sent.

Central America and the Caribbean Dominican Republic (with 300 troops), El Salvador (360), Honduras (360) and Nicaragua (120) are assisting a Spanish-led brigade in south-central Iraq.
More to the above. See Iraq Donor Countries by Associated Press, October 23, 2003.

donors pledge summary

The best summary of donors' pledges at the recent conference in Madrid Spain we have so far been able to locate is that by Reuters carried by Hi Pakistan and Forbes. Hopefully an official listing will soon be on line. Bpost has included additional information available from other sources. See references below.

The International Donors’ Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq website for the event lists 75 nations, 21 international government organizations and 13 non-governmental organizations registered to attend.
Summary of donors pledges from the International Donors’ Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq:

Australia $14 million in aid plus $38 million committed to humanitarian needs and $31 million for reconstruction.

Belgium $5.88 million for reconstruction. Total $20 million.

Britain $495.7 million to March 2006. Total commitment of $911 million.

Canada Already pledged $76.57 million for reconstruction and offered a further $76.57 million at Madrid. It has also pledged $76.57 million for humanitarian aid.

China $24 million.

Denmark $55.4 million in aid, of which $26.9 million for reconstruction and $28.5 million for humanitarian assistance. Also providing export guarantee scheme of $158.2 million.

European Union EU and member states pledged a total of $826 million for rebuilding in 2004. Of that, European Commission making 200 million euros available from EU budget. Total pledges from EU community budget and member states until 2007 stand at $1.53 billion. EU also giving $858.9 million humanitarian aid to end 2004.

Finland $5.90 million in 2004 grants.

Germany An estimated $118 million, about 50 million euros of that through the EU.

India Further $10 million on top of $20 million given so far, including a hospital and 50,000 tons of wheat.

Iran Offered to allow oil exports through Iranian terminals or to enter into an oil swap arrangement with Iraq of up to 350,000 bpd. Also promised up to $300 million in buyers and suppliers credits and offered to supply electricity and gas. Iran also proposed allowing Iranian tourists to travel to Iraq at an estimated benefit to local Iraqi economies of approximately $500 million.

Italy $235.9 million in addition to share of EU reconstruction contribution. Military contribution $270.6 million in 2004 every six months.

Japan Pledged a further $3.5 billion in medium-term loans on top of $1.5 billion of grants already pledged, bringing its total of promised aid to $5 billion.

Kuwait $1 billion already given in technical and humanitarian aid since April. Offers further $500 million aid.

New Zealand US$3 million.

Norway $74.13 million during 2003-6.

Saudi Arabia $1 billion package, half in project finance [loans] from the Saudi Development Fund for education, health, infrastructure and housing till 2007. The second half will be in export credits.

South Korea $200 million from 2003-2007 on top of $60 million earmarked earlier this year.

Spain $300 million in aid to 2007.

Sri Lanka 100 tonnes of tea

Sweden $43 million for 2003-2005 in humanitarian assistance only, until there was either a sovereign Iraqi government or UN authority overseeing reconstruction.

Turkey $50 million from 2004 to 2007.

United Arab Emirates $215 million for humanitarian aid and reconstruction work.

United States $20.3 billion over 18 months of which $10 billion may be allocated in loans.

Vietnam $500,000 worth of rice

World Bank $3-5 billion available over next five years in loans. See more at their website.

IMF $2.5-4.25 billion over three years in loans.
Contributions to reconstruction in Iraq
October 24, 2003

$40 billion pledged in aid, loans for Iraq: Madrid conference
by Reuters
Hi Pakistan
October 24, 2003

Donors pledge at least $13bn for Iraq
by Roula Khalaf and Joshua Levitt in Madrid
Financial Times
October 24, 2003

Nations, banks pledge $13B to rebuild Iraq
by William Neikirk
Chicago Tribune
Reprinted in
October 25, 2003

Donor Group Aims to Start Iraq Reconstruction Funding Flow
By Tom Sawyer
Mcgraw Hill Construction
October 22, 2003

Related news:

According to the UN's website, the long awaited International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) has now been set up.
An international monitoring panel charged with keeping an eye on expenditures in Iraq was formally established today with the agreement of all parties on the terms of its operation, according to a joint statement released at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The statement, issued by the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the United Nations, said their agreement meant that that the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) had been established.

A Security Council resolution passed last May calls for the creation of an IAMB to appoint accountants to audit the Development Fund for Iraq that has been established by the United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

Friday, October 24

cell service

Motorola has landed a sub-contract for $40 million dollars from Orascom Telecom Holding.
U.S. telecommunications-equipment supplier Motorola Inc. is moving fast to set up infrastructure for the central Iraq mobile-phone network, due to start operation in less than two months. Motorola Thursday signed a two-year contract worth up to USD 40 million with Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Holding, 63% owner of Orascom Telecom Iraq, which is preparing to operate the network under the brand name "Iraqna."

Motorola will provide Global System for Mobile communications, or GSM, base stations and transmission equipment for the network, one of three being set up in the country. Training for 23 Iraqi engineers began as long as six weeks ago, even though Iraqi network licenses were awarded only two-and-a-half weeks ago.
See Motorola to supply network in central Iraq in PMN Publications.


Thursday, October 23


The controversy over Halliburton's possible inflation of oil prices is heating up. The New York Times, New Information May Bolster Questions on Halliburton by Neela Banerjee reports that Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization is also importing fuel but at lower rates than what Halliburton is charging.
But Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization is now importing fuel, too, and from the same countries nearby as Halliburton. An Oct. 16 fax from the agency to the House Committee on Government Reform, where Mr. Waxman is the ranking Democrat, indicates that the Iraqis are bringing in gasoline at a much lower price than is Halliburton.

Halliburton said in response to the Congressional letter last week that it charges $1.59 a gallon for its gasoline imports, which includes the 2 percent profit margin. In the fax, the Iraqi marketing organization's general manager, Mohammed al-Jibouri, said that gasoline from Turkey costs $347 a metric ton delivered to Baghdad, which he said translates to about 98 cents a gallon.
What is the price at the pumps for a gallon of gasoline? According to the New York Times article, "4 cents to 15 cents a gallon at the pump" as a result of subsidies from the UN's Oil for Food program. The new $87 billion supplemental bill would shift the responsibility from the UN's Oil for Food Program to the American taxpayer.


More on the ARDI contract. Let's hope the USAID soon releases an announcement to clear this one up. The numbers are just all over the map. $50 million more than was reported yesterday and alot more than the initial $5 million figure the State Department released.
The CSIRO and a South Australian company will share in a $170 million deal to revitalise Iraq's agricultural sector.

South Australian-based agricultural consultants, SAGRIC, the CSIRO and the United States company DAI will provide technical advice and assistance to help modernise Iraq's agriculture.
See SA company wins share in $170m Iraq contract in ABC Australia.

Wednesday, October 22

where did it go?

As representatives of nations gather for the Donor Conference in Madrid, Christian Aid has requested an audit of profits from oil revenue that came into Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority. By UN mandate passed in May, an oversight committee, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, is supposed to be set up to monitor oil revenue. Members of the committee have not yet been named leaving one with the impression that there is no oversight committee at this time. Christian Aid estimates that $4 billion dollars in oil revenue is currently unaccounted for.
A prominent British aid agency accused Iraq's U.S. and British administrators on Thursday of failing to account for $4 to 5 billion in oil revenue and other money that is meant to go toward rebuilding the country.

As officials from around the world gathered in Madrid to hear U.S. requests for aid for Iraq, Christian Aid said the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had not publicly detailed cash flows since ousting Saddam Hussein in April.
See Charity urges clarity on Iraq reconstruction fund in Forbes.

donors conference

Financial Times carries a short article, FT briefing: Iraq donors' conference, outlining the upcoming Donors Conference scheduled for October 23 - 24 in Madrid, Spain.
The biggest pledge has come from Japan, which will provide $1.5bn in grants next year towards the reconstruction of Iraq, making it the second largest Iraq donor after the US.

Japan is also reported to be considering announcing loans - up to $5bn over four years at the conference.

The UK has agreed to provide £550m ($919m) over three years.

The EU has pledged €200m ($235m) next year

Spain has promised €90m ($105m) for 2004 and €270 ($300m) to 2007.

Canada has pledged about $200 million for 2004.

France and Germany have said they would be willing to help train the police and army but not, at least at the moment, consider any bilateral contributions.
FT reports that side meetings will be looking into debt relief for the nation.
The US will discuss Iraq debt forgiveness with several countries on the fringes of the conference. The Paris Club estimates Iraq's existing debts at $21bn.
Visit Jubilee Iraq for information on debt relief for Iraq.


The new Agriculture Reconstruction and Development Program for Iraq (ARDI) contract is intriguing.

With only an initial award of $5 million dollars to Development Alternatives Inc., everyone appears to be getting mega million dollar contracts for this same project. It will be interesting to read the details once they become available.
A South Australian farm consultancy will share a $120 million contract with the CSIRO and a United States firm to help rebuild Iraq's agricultural industry.

Trade Minister Mark Vaile said SAGRIC International and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) would work with a US-based consultants [Development Alternatives Inc.] DAI to help Iraq rehabilitate and modernise agriculture.
SA company gets Iraq contract in The Advertiser, Australia.

Intriguing, no?


Tuesday, October 21


Press release today from the USAID announces the initial funding for the “Agriculture Reconstruction and Development Program for Iraq” (ARDI)
In support of the Coalition Provisional Authority’s (CPA) reconstruction efforts in Iraq, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced an initial award of $5 million to Bethesda, Maryland-based Development Alternatives, Inc (DAI) for agricultural reconstruction and development in Iraq. This one-year program, known as the “Agriculture Reconstruction and Development Program for Iraq” (ARDI), is designed to support Iraqi initiatives to revitalize agricultural production, stimulate income and employment generation through agro-enterprise and market development, nurture rural financial services, and rehabilitate the natural resource base.
The initial RFP was issued on June 4, 2003.

In the meantime, news from Texas A&M via Agriculture News says the contract is for a wee bit more than $5 million:
Texas A&M University will lead a US-funded effort to help rebuild Iraq's agricultural economy over the next three years. The university's International Agriculture Office will lead a consortium of universities and government agencies in a $107 million project awarded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The goal for the first year is to double agricultural production on 30,000 Iraqi farms.

Other members of the consortium include USDA's Agriculture Research Service, and Cooperative State, Research, Education and Extension Service, Cornell University, Washington State University, Virginia Tech, Purdue, and the University of California at Davis.


The consortium will serve as a subcontractor to Development Alternatives Inc., an international consulting firm based in Maryland that will oversee the entire project. The arrangement is designed to pull in experts rapidly from the public sector using the Texas A&M umbrella.
Development Alternatives Inc. has also been awarded a previous contract for the Iraq Marshlands.
Iraq Strategies for Assisting the Marsh Dwellers and Restoring the Marshes in Southern Iraq (2003-2004). Since 1992, 90 percent of the marshes of southern Iraq have disappeared and, with them, the marsh dwellers' way of life. DAI will help develop the design for an initial marshlands restoration program, which will include implementing pilot restoration projects, providing social and economic assistance, collecting and monitoring data, developing a hydrologic model of the entire basin and a corresponding hydrodynamic or hydroperiod model of al-Hammar and al-Hawizeh marshes, and capacity building in marshlands management.


carl levin

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) has asked the General Accounting Office to conduct an audit on contracts awarded for reconstruction in Iraq.
"I am concerned that contracts worth hundreds of millions, and even billions of dollars, have been awarded without full and open competition," Levin said. "I am also concerned by reports that important safeguards have been ignored and that excessive rates have been charged under some of these contracts. We know far too little about the way in which subcontracts are being awarded – for example, whether they are being awarded to the best qualified companies, or to the best-connected companies. We need an independent audit of these issues to ensure that the taxpayers' hard-earned money is not being wasted."


Monday, October 20

news from dod

The website of the Department of Defense, Defense Link, provides an email announcement service for DoD News (official DoD releases) for:
News Releases
Contract Announcements
Press Advisories
News Transcripts
Today in DoD
Be aware that News releases includes the announcements of casualties. To subscribe, visit

The home page for DoD News is located by clicking here.


Saturday, October 18

faster faster

New York Times in Companies Get Few Days to Offer Bids on Iraq Work reports contracts for smaller amounts are being expedited with as little as three days notice to submit bids. The article is by Edmund L. Andrews and Neela Banerjee.
Hoping to speed up reconstruction work in Iraq, American officials in Baghdad are offering contracts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, but giving companies as little as three days to submit competing bids.

Procurement experts said the extremely short deadlines were legal, but some warned that they could stifle open competition, favor well-connected contractors at the expense of outsiders and lead to higher costs.


The current rush of contracts is being financed out of the new Development Fund of Iraq, which holds money received from Iraqi oil exports. Since the fund's inception in mid-July, coalition officials say they have awarded 143 projects worth more than $200 million.
The New York Times article also updates the figure the USAID has awarded to the US Army Corps of Engineers for monitoring Bechtel Corporation's $680 million contract. The new figure is $10 million dollars. Gee. That's funny. Bpost thought it was supposed to be $3 million. At least, that was what the USAID spokesperson had said back in June.
The U.S. Agency for International Development will pay the Army Corps of Engineers $3 million under an existing contract to keep track of Bechtel National Inc.'s $680 million construction contract over the first year.
PDF - Army Corps to Oversee Iraq Contract
by Jackie Spinner
Washington Post
June 14, 2003

So what gives? More "parking" of funds?

iraq revenue watch

Iraq Revenue Watch, a project of the Open Society Institute, has issued a new report available in PDF.
Keeping Secrets: America and Iraq's Public Finances

Iraq's public finances fall short of international standards of accountability. Iraq Revenue Watch calls for greater transparency in the management of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), the central repository for Iraqi oil and gas revenues. The Coalition Provisional Authority has refused to disclose basic information about large purchase contracts and DFI expenditures, and the Iraqi public, as well as members of the United Nations Security Council, have been left in the dark about how the Fund works. This report calls on the Coalition Provisional Authority to reverse these trends and offers a set of recommendations, including increased Iraqi involvement in the DFI, the establishment of the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, and better public access to information.
Learn more about Iraq Revenue Watch at their website

Friday, October 17


BBC reports that Spain has pledged $300 million towards reconstruction in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has voted to set aside $10 billion (of the $87 billion supplemental) as loans.
The $10bn loan could be converted by President Bush to a grant if France, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other creditors forgive at least 90% of Iraq's debt, roughly set at $130bn.
Common Dreams reports on its home page that an amendment to increase pay for troops has been defeated. The vote was a tie which means the bill failed.
By a recorded vote of 213 ayes to 213 noes, the House rejected an amendment to increase the basic rate of pay to all military services by $265 million - the amount needed to provide a $1,500 bonus to each person serving in operations in Iraq or Afghanistan for FY 2004. The $265 million is roughly equal to what many suspect Halliburton is overcharging the U.S. government in Iraq.

- House Roll Call Vote #554, 10/17/03
Check the vote out. The vote is along party lines with Democrats voting to increase pay and Republicans voting against.

a billionaire

The Missoula Independent has a profile on Washington Group International who recently received an additional task order for $110 million dollars for work in Iraq.
Construction and railroad magnate Dennis R. Washington is Montana’s only homegrown billionaire. The Missoula resident also appears to be the city’s only initiate to a cabal of big government contractors whose political donations have been followed by lucrative government contracts as the Bush administration continues to throw billions at the rebuilding effort in Iraq.


WGI announced on Oct. 3 that it had received a $110 million “task order” from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “to support ongoing efforts to repair electrical infrastructure in Iraq.”


[WGI Vice President for Corporate Communications Jack] Herrmann affirms that campaign contributions secure access to elected officials, who set policy that affects the company’s ability to do business. In regards to the current policy in Iraq, which is obviously a boon for WGI, Herrmann won’t debate the merits of the president’s efforts in Iraq. “That’s one for the politicians to talk about,” says Herrmann.
A "task order" would mean the work was not competetively bid but was awarded to a company under an existing contract.

Thursday, October 16

weekly report

USAID has a new weekly report on Iraq Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance. Report #3 came out today. You can read the PDF or view the archives for previous updates and fact sheets.



Short article in Middle East North Africa Financial Network on an upcoming meeting in Cairo.
The Arab Investors Union is to hold a meeting next week in Cairo bringing together Arab businessmen, including Saudis and Iraqis, to discuss the participation of the private sector in the reconstruction of Iraq.

The meeting is in response to a call by the Iraqi Investors Union (IIU) for Arab investors to help the Iraqi people revive their economy. The IIU also has urged Arab countries to send delegations to Iraq to explore the markets and search for opportunities for investment.
In regards to funds from donor nations for reconstruction in Iraq, Japan has agreed to $1.5 billion dollars, Britain has pledged $439 million and the European Union is pitching in an additional $233 million. These funds are in addition to earlier pledges.
The World Bank has estimated Iraq needs $55 billion in aid to finance its reconstruction until the country's oil industry gets on its feet.
The World Bank, as reported by the Financial Times, is said to be considering lending $4 billion dollars to Iraq. The International Monetary Fund is expected to follow the World Bank's lead for an as yet undetermined loan amount.

The international donors conference is coming up in Madrid, Spain on October 23 and 24th. So far, incoming funds look to be short of the $55 billion dollar needed.

more ray in raytheon

Boston Globe covers new developments with Raytheon's defense contracts for services in Iraq, US Doubles Raytheon Iraq Pact by Ross Kerber.
On Sept. 30 the Pentagon nearly doubled to $39.4 million an order under which a Raytheon unit will assist in the storage and destruction of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. The military also extended to May the time frame Raytheon's services might be needed.


The deal deepens the relationship between Raytheon and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which for years has hired Raytheon to help dismantle rockets and other weapons in the former Soviet Union. Under terms reached in June, the agency was to pay Raytheon $21.5 million for work in Iraq to be completed by Dec. 12. But on Sept. 30 the amount was increased because the order's time frame was extended to May 31, 2004, according to Clem Gaines, an agency spokesman.
Anyone know, did they actually start the work or not?

Wednesday, October 15

halliburton and waxman

Forbes covers the controversy recently raised by Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) that Halliburton appears to be over billing for gasoline in Iraq.
Waxman said army documents showed that as of Sept. 18, the United States had paid Halliburton $300 million to import about 190 million gallons (719 million litres) of gasoline into Iraq.

Halliburton charged an average price of $1.59 per gallon (3.7 litres), excluding the company's fee of 2 percent to 7 percent, said Waxman.

He said the average wholesale cost of gasoline during that period in the Middle East was about 71 cents a gallon, a figure an oil industry source told Reuters was accurate. That meant Halliburton was charging more than 90 cents a gallon to transport fuel into Iraq from Kuwait.
Read the rest in Forbes, U.S. lawmaker says Halliburton overbills in Iraq The article also mentions the two contracts up for bid to replace Halliburton's no-bid contract, one for the North and one for the South, will be announced later this month.


Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity issued a new memorandum yesterday:
MEMORANDUM FOR: Colleagues in Intelligence
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: One Person Can Make a Difference

Our most recent open appeal to you, "Now It’s Your Turn," was made on August 22, 2003. On that same day, it turns out, former Australian intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie testified before a parliamentary committee examining the justification given by Prime Minister John Howard for Australia’s decision to join the war in Iraq. Wilkie had been a senior analyst in Australia’s premier intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments. Of all the Australian, British, and American intelligence analysts with direct knowledge of how intelligence was abused in the run-up to the war -- Wilkie was the only one to resign in protest and speak truth to power.
Accompanying the Memorandum are remarks by Andrew Wilkie. Enjoy.

mac dill

A while back, we posted several articles from the St. Petersburg Times on Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base as they related to Iraq expenditures. The St. Petersburg Times later reported that $20 million dollars had been "parked" at MacDill for use at another time. The St. Petersburg Times continues to follow up with More military funds scrutinized.
Pentagon officials are investigating allegations of a second case of the Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base hiding millions of dollars from Congress in its budget.

The latest allegation, Pentagon officials confirmed Wednesday, involves $25-million that Special Operations listed in its fiscal year 2004 budget, which took effect Wednesday.


Pentagon investigators already had been conducting an audit, or a preliminary investigation, into how Special Operations - at the Pentagon's request - inflated budget proposals in fiscal year 2003 to "park," or hide, $20-million from Congress.

In that case, Special Operations officials divided $20-million among six projects so the money would not attract attention, according to defense officials and documents obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.
So how much is this going to add up to and is this going on at other bases?

Tuesday, October 14


Why always so vague when it comes to Raytheon? The New York Times reports today in Iraqi Arms Caches Cited in Attacks by Raymond Bonner that Raytheon is one of the companies helping to destroy old weapons in Iraq.
There are not enough American soldiers here to do the job of finding the weapons and securing them until they can be destroyed, the officials said. A private American company, Raytheon, has been awarded a contract to destroy the weapons, but it will not begin work until December, one official said.
Back in the spring, another article reported that Raytheon had been awarded a $30 million dollar contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to neutralize any weapons of mass destruction. We at bpost assume the above mentioned is a new contract for Raytheon as an 8 month delay for neutralizing weapons is just unacceptable.

See Competing for Work in Postwar Iraq
By Diana B. Henriques
New York Times
April 10, 2003

five embassy questions

We finally got around to printing out the $87 billion dollar supplemental appropriations request posted on Global Security's website. The $87 billion dollars represents the second of two supplemental requests. The first supplemental request was approved in early April.

Bpost's thoughts on the second and most recent supplemental: Lots of vague and big numbers. 59 pages long. Some numbers accompanied by, "Additional details will be provided in classified narrative supporting this request." which is not very helpful for understanding where billions of dollars are going.

As we read through the 59 pages, what caught our eye is the following:
For an additional amount for "Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance." $60,500,000, to remain available until expended.

This request would provide $60.5 million for the Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance account. These funds are essential to provide safe and secure temporary facilities.
Temporary? How much is permanent?

Why did this catch our eye? Because US State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, provided some details on March 25, 2003 regarding the first supplemental and a future US Embassy. Given benefit of the doubt, it is possible the funding for the Embassy was cut in the first round from the first supplemental.

From March 25, 2003:
MR. BOUCHER: [...] Now, as the President announced today, we're making a huge supplemental budget request to take care of the needs of the Iraqi people. The total amount in this request for relief and reconstruction is about $3.5 billion.


And I would also note the request includes $187 million to support and expanded State Department operations. Of that amount, we are budgeting $35.8 million for our U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to represent the people of the United States to the free people of Iraq.

QUESTION: How much is that again, sir?

MR. BOUCHER: $35.8 million for our future embassy, including various security measures that will need to be taken.
$35.8 million (first supplemental) + $60.5 million (second supplemental) is one heck of an Embassy. Last bpost heard, US authorities are still operating out of one of Saddam's palaces.

So here is a list of questions we wish a journalist would ask at the next State Department briefing:
1. What is the State Department currently using as an Embassy and/or diplomatic headquarters in Iraq?
2. In regards to the first supplemental, was the previous request for $35.8 million for an Embassy in Iraq included?
3. If so, why is an additional $60.5 million being requested and what are the funds to be spent on?
4. What funds have been spent to date and how were they spent in regards to an Embassy?
5. If no, the $35.8 million was not included earlier, why has the request increased significantly by $24.7 million dollars?
PDF of the second supplemental appropriations request if you too would like to read it.

Monday, October 13

in iraq

Al Jazeera reports in US launches Iraq contract agency that a new agency is being created to facilitate sub-contracting work in Iraq. The new agency was apparently announced at the most recent conference held in London.

Oddly enough, the new agency will be under the Pentagon, not the State Department. The US administration appears to have difficulty with recognizing the necessity of clearly defined boundaries. All subcontractors will now be viewed as working directly as US military contractors. Given the current status of security, that does not appear to be a wise and well thought out strategy.
The US said it plans to create a new agency, under the auspices of the Pentagon, to deal with awarding contracts related to the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

The new agency, which has yet to be named, will start work at the beginning of November under the direction of retired admiral David Nash, according to the US Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for International Technology Security, John Shaw. The unit will be charged with coordinating the distribution of sub-contracting work in Iraq, notably by US groups Bechtel and Halliburton, the main contractors in Iraq's reconstruction.

Shaw agreed there were “divergences” over the process between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) - which awarded the main contracts under the supervision of the State Department - and the Pentagon.
Schools in Iraq are reopening. Washington File provides some numbers and details.
Coalition soldiers and non-governmental organizations partnered to rebuild more than 800 schools in the Ninevah Province, current home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

The division's Commander's Emergency Relief Program, which draws from Iraqi government funds seized after the first Gulf War, has to date spent $2,040,513 on 330 completed school projects including the recently opened Ninevah Province Education Headquarters in Mosul.
The article includes the following organizations as having assisted:
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
101st Airborne Division Commander's Emergency Relief Program (CERP)
Non-Governmental Organizations (bit vague, that)
United Nations Development Program

kevin sites

MSNBC journalist, Kevin Sites, is back in Iraq and blogging again. It is his own personal blog and is not affiliated with the network. Visit to read more, some photos too.

Saturday, October 11


Ray McGovern and David MacMichael of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have an interview with Sojourners in the November/December 2003 issue. Sojourners is a Christian group "for justice and peace"

It's a very good interview and much more personal than the others that have been published.
McGovern: It's the first time that I've seen such a long-term, orchestrated plan of deception by which one branch of our government deliberately misled the other on a matter of war and peace. Here was a very calculated plan, proceeding from a "Mein Kampf" type of document. All one need do is consult the Project for the New American Century on the Web to see the ideological and strategic underpinnings of this campaign. The first objective was to deceive Congress into approving the plans. They succeeded masterfully. They had their war, and they thought that in the wake of the war, with Iraqis opening their arms to us, no one would really care whether there were, in fact, weapons of mass destruction. They were absolutely wrong on that. People do care, as one by one our servicemen and women are killed in a war fought on false pretences.
A link to a full length transcript is also available. The Burden of Truth by Rose Marie Berger and Jim Rice.

Friday, October 10


The $87 billion dollar supplemental is sailing though. There is an article today over at Slate by Fred Kaplan, Rumsfeld's $9 Billion Slush Fund that you should read. Kaplan has discovered $9.3 billion dollars set aside for discretionary spending.
For all the debate over President Bush's $87 billion supplemental request for military operations and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, no one seems to have noticed that the sum includes a slush fund of at least $9.3 billion, which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld can spend pretty much as he pleases.

Last week, the congressional armed services committees—and this week the House Appropriations Committee—marked up the supplemental, excising a few hundred million that Bush had requested for new hospitals, housing, and sanitation. But the committees didn't touch a nickel of the slush fund—and there's a cravenly wink-and-nudge reason why they didn't.
Kaplan includes a link to a pdf of the supplemental request. He also breaks down how he discovered the "slush fund" and where the numbers are hidden. President Bush also has access to funds.
Finally, the president has a little slush fund, too. One section notes that he may transfer "any appropriation made available in this title," as long as it does "not exceed $200 million."


Justin Alexander is the amazing web master of The Future of Iraq Portal.

Justin is currently in Iraq with Jubilee Iraq, a small group trying to free Iraq from $200 billion dollars of debt. You can follow Justin's progress through his blog at
Ahlan fi blogi (welcome to my blog) to Riverbend readers who've just browsed over. To get you up to speed, I'm a young Brit in Baghdad with Jubilee Iraq, a little NGO trying to help free Iraq from the burden of $200 billion of Saddam's unpaid bills. I'm consulting with Iraqis about their views on this issue in order to show the countries demanding payment how strongly they feel about this issue - basically everyone agrees that Iraqis should not be held responsible for loans which financed Saddam's regime and harmed rather than benefited the Iraqi people. My posts relate some of the frustrations and successes in this endeavour, along with random observations about Baghdad life.
Make sure to stop by Jubilee Iraq to learn more about Iraq's debt.

Thursday, October 9


Washington File carries an announcement that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has opened an affiliate office in Baghdad, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). CIPE describes itself as "building democratic institutions through market-oriented reform around the globe." One could argue with this description given the method in which contracts are being awarded for reconstruction in Iraq. It will be interesting to see what direction additional "reform" will take.
CIPE is launching two programs in Iraq that are funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

-- A partnership with the Iraqi newspaper Al Ahali to produce a monthly business review in Arabic highlighting best business practices and economic reform issues for Iraqi entrepreneurs;

-- A survey of business conditions and barriers to entrepreneurship in six regions of Iraq.
No indication as to the size of the funding for the programs.

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has a website at
Contact information for the CIPE-Iraq Office:
Zaid A. Abdul-Hameed El-Noeimy
Baghdad Office Director
Al Karrada, Zone 909, Street 33, Building 6/1
Baghdad, Iraq
Tel: +9641-7782850
Fax: +9641-7782850
Thuraya: +88216 52306147
The new currency for Iraq goes into circulation on October 15. This coincides nicely with the new $20 bill introduced on October 9 in the US.  

Wednesday, October 8

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that grants have been made to three university consortia, each led by a U.S. institution of higher learning, to partner with and strengthen Iraqi universities.
It's not really clear from reading the USAID Press Release how the money will be used. What proportion of the funds will Iraqi universities receive? What benefit will Iraqi universities derive from the partnerships? Sounds good on paper but...what are the details?
$4,131,274 award

Archeology and Environmental Research: To a consortium led by the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook that will partner with Baghdad University, Al Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, Mosul University and Basrah University.

$3,770,724 award

Agriculture: To the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources that will partner with the University of Mosul's College of Agriculture and Forestry.

$3,827,734 award

Legal Education Reform in Iraq: To the Human Rights Institute of DePaul University College of Law (IHRLI) and the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) in Siracusa, Italy, working in association with the University of Baghdad.

bits & pieces

According to a short article in Forbes, Willbros Group Inc. has won a subcontract with Kellogg Brown and Root (the Halliburton subsidiary) to install pipeline in Iraq.
Shares of Willbros Group Inc. (nyse: WG) were the top gainer in Tuesday morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange, a day after the contractor disclosed that it had been awarded about $100 million in contracts for work in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Houston company, which serves the oil, gas and power industries, said its Willbros Middle East Inc. subsidiary won a contract from Halliburton Co.'s (nyse: HAL) Kellogg Brown & Root Services unit to install pipelines in Iraq.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) continues to take on the White House over the handlling of Iraq reconstruction contracts. His most recent letter is to Joshua Bolten, Director, Office of Management and Budget dated September 26. Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MENAFN) has the full text of the letter available.

Dear Mr Bolten,

For the past six months, I have been investigating the activities of Halliburton and Bechtel in Iraq. This has been difficult because of the failure of the White House and federal agencies to respond to my inquiries. In fact, al-though I have written to the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary Rumsfeld, the Secretary of the Army, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Export-Import Bank, and the Army Corps of Engi-neers, only the Corps has responded consistently to my inquiries. As a result, basic facts are not being shared with me or others in Congress about the process by which contracts are being awarded, the scope of specific contract terms, the details of task orders, and the payments being made to Halliburton and Bechtel.

Despite the Administration's refusal to provide information, a picture is now beginning to emerge of waste and gold-plating that is enriching Halliburton and Bechtel while costing the US taxpayer millions and imperiling the goal of Iraqi reconstruction. The problem is this: too much money appears to be going to Halliburton and Bech-tel for too little work and too few opportunities for Iraqis. Already, these two companies have contracts worth $3.14bn from the conflict in Iraq and the reconstruction efforts.
You can also download pdf versions of Rep. Waxman's letters by visiting his website.  

Monday, October 6

iraq goes cellular

The long awaited licenses for cellular service in Iraq were awarded today. Both of the Kuwaiti groups have a history of working with Nokia, Motorola, and Siemens. Interest in expanding cellular service into Iraq was running parallel to the build up to the war.
Iraq said on Monday it had awarded three, two-year GSM mobile phone network licenses to Arab consortia, including an Egyptian and two Kuwaiti telecoms groups, in a rebuff to a rival U.S. communications technology.

Communications Minister Haidar al-Ebadi said the three sought-after deals had been awarded to a consortium including Egypt's Orascom Telecommunications, a group including Kuwait's National Mobile Telecommunications (NMTC) and a third partnership including Kuwait's MTC.
Chicago Business covers some of the details as does Computer World. The licenses are expected to run about $5 million with additional costs for $30 million in performance bonds. The cellular licenses have been a long on-again off-again affair.
[..] the issue was clouded after one U.S. lawmaker in March urged top politicians, including U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to ensure that rival U.S-backed technology CDMA be deployed to safeguard American jobs and profits.
The U.S. lawmaker mentioned above is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is rumored to have spent approximately $1 million dollars for signatures to recall Governor Gray Davis in California. 

Sunday, October 5

tin foil hat

Not many people read this blog, which is ok. Over time, we have decided it was best to act as a minor repository of information to help those researching on the web. Most of those who visit us come from search engines.

But even so, bpost would like to comment further on the gloves contract we recently posted. And so, donning our tin foil hat, we wish to share our fear with you.

The gloves contract set off a small alarm bell on first reading. As mentioned, had the contract been for standard replacement, or issued just prior/after the conflict in Iraq began, we would have given it little thought. Our concern is the timing. Here is why.
The CIA has already briefed friendly foreign intelligence services on a contingency plan for air and missile strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites, according to western diplomats.
(See Iran defies US over weapons hunt by Ian Mather Scotland on Sunday October 5, 2003)

The IAEA has given Iran until October 31st to prove it does not have a hidden nuclear weapons program. On Sunday, Israel launched an air strike against what is described as a terrorist base inside Syria. The air strike inside of Syria is an indication that a strike inside of Iran, by either Israel or the US, is no longer outside the realm of possibility.

Note: On June 7, 1981, in a surprise air attack, Israel struck Iraq's Osirak Nuclear Research Facility then under construction. More recently, CNN has reported Israel has warned that Iran's nuclear program posed a threat.

Should the US or Israel launch an air strike inside of Iran, retaliation likely would be directed into Iraq where roughly 130,000 American troops are now stationed. Given the long history of animosity between Iran and Iraq, collateral damage, the deaths of civilians, is something Iran might find acceptable.

Iran also has a history of using chemical weapons, hence our concern over the ordering of a large quantity of gloves. While Saddam Hussein's regime has been blamed for the gassing of Kurds at Halabjah in March 1988, there are competing reports that suggest Iran was more likely to have been the culprit given the chemicals involved. No matter who actually did gas the Kurds, the history of chemical weapons' usage by both countries is known.

(See US Suppressed Gas Charge Report by Raju Thomas Times of India September 16, 2002 and A War Crime or an Act of War? by Stephen C. Pelletiere New York Times January 31, 2003)

Bpost shared its concerns with others. Much to our dismay, a blogger who we respect reported the following to us:
I've heard from two people through my weblog that there's a buzz among troops that 'something big' might be about to happen.
We at bpost pray that we are simply having a tin foil hat moment that will soon pass as nothing more than a petty anxiety.

The alternative is unthinkable.


If no weapons of mass destruction have been found to date in Iraq, what are the gloves for?
North Safety Products of North Charleston learned Wednesday it has won a $10 million contract from the Defense Department to manufacture chemical protection gloves for U.S. troops in Iraq.
Company North Safety Products
Award $10 million
Agency Defense Department
Date of RFP
Date of Award October 1, 2003
Nature of work To manufacture chemical protection gloves for U.S. troops in Iraq
N. Charleston company lands $10M military contract
By Terry Joyce
The Post and Courier
October 2, 2003

bpost comment: A small alarm bell is going off that says something is not quite right about this contract but we don't know what it is. Had the contract been awarded earlier in the search for wmd's, or was announced as a replacement order, bpost might feel differently.

bits and pieces

Cleaning out some of the old news from the overflowing bpost inbox.
A Defense Department effort to involve American Indian companies in the rebuilding of Iraq will bring jobs and contracts to around 10 high-tech Indian-owned companies, Indian Country Today has learned.
Company Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, S & K Technologies
Award $5 million
Agency Defense Department
Date of RFP
Pre-planning April 21, 2003
Date of Award August 2003
Nature of work To fund some 39 slots for Information Technology support, reconstruction and transportation specialists, humanitarian workers and other functions.
Native Americans get Iraq contracts
by Jim Adams
August 31, 2003

Saturday, October 4

bits and pieces

Bpost was very surprised to see the New York Times in Iraqi Reconstruction: A Broad Plan by David Firestone itemize costs related to the $22 billion dollars for reconstruction included in the $87 billion dollar defense supplemental. We hope it's the beginning of a trend that will catch on.
Oil System $2.1 billion

Capital investments, $1.2 billion

Iraq's principal source of revenue has been damaged by war, looting, and terrorist sabotage, the administration says, and the following investments are necessary just to approach pre-war levels of oil production:

Rapid pipeline repair team, $55 million
Four topping plants, the first stage in oil refinement, $125 million
Backup distribution, including 200 fuel tankers and 250 LPG trucks, $68 million
Oil system security force, training and equipment, $60 million
Personal security for the Oil Minister and directors, $8 million
Oil industry consultants, $5 million
Pipeline and refinery repair, dating back to 1991, $575 million
The above is just a sample. Go read the article.

A second article in the New York Times, Pentagon's Request for Iraq Includes Money for Troops and Rewards by Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, also contains information outlining where the remaining $65.6 billion dollars slated for military expenses is going.
The administration's $20.3 billion request for Iraqi reconstruction has been under the hot lamp of Congressional scrutiny, but the vastly larger portion of the emergency spending bill — $65.6 billion for Pentagon activities, military operations and classified programs — has drawn few complaints.
And, apparently, little close examination by legislators.
At least $3 billion in the overall request is classified to pay for intelligence activities, Special Operations missions, experimental weapons and even runways in a nation that supports America's efforts but does not want to be identified.


The Houston Chronicle reports in Four firms to restore power grid for Iraqis that the Pentagon has awarded four additional task orders for contracts to repair the elctrical grid in Iraq. Sigh. Familliar names--of course. We have covered previous contracts to Perini, Washington Group and Fluor. The USACOE has raised the original caps to $500 million and appears to have exteneded the original one year contracts.
The Pentagon has hired four U.S. companies to repair Iraq's dilapidated electricity infrastructure at a cost of at least $290 million.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) has assigned Washington Group International, Fluor Intercontinental and Perini Corp. to repair the electric generation, transmission and distribution systems in a country where electrical service still remains precarious.


A fourth firm, IAP Worldwide Services of Irmo, South Carolina., will supply electric generators to the tune of $12 million.
Additional information on the task orders is also available at US Newswire U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Issues Task Orders for Repairs to Iraq's Electrical Infrastructure

Company Washington Group International
Award $110 million
Agency U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Date of RFP
Date of Award September 25, 2003 (original April 1, 2003)
Nature of work To repair the electric generation, transmission and distribution systems in northern Iraq
Reference See below

Company Fluor Intercontinental
Award $102 million
Agency U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Date of RFP
Date of Award September 25, 2003 (original April 1, 2003)
Nature of work To repair the electric generation, transmission and distribution systems in central Iraq
Reference See below

Company Perini Corp
Award $66 million
Agency U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Date of RFP
Date of Award September 25, 2003 (original April 1, 2003)
Nature of work To repair the electric generation, transmission and distribution systems in southern Iraq
Reference See below
On November 15, 2002, the Corps awarded an indefinite delivery contract to IAP Worldwide Services of Irmo, South Carolina, with a maximum value of $29.5 million for a base year with four option years. The ceiling on this contract will be increased from $29.5 million to $523.5 million for the entire contract period.
Company IAP Worldwide Services
Award $12 million (up to $523.5 million)
Agency U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Date of RFP
Date of Award September 26, 2003 (original November 15, 2002)
Nature of work To supply electrical generators


Four firms to restore power grid for Iraqis
by David Ivanovich
The Houston Chronicle
October 3, 2003

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Issues Task Orders for Repairs to Iraq's Electrical Infrastructure
by Scott Saunders and Joan Kibler
US Newswire
October 3, 2003

And yes, that is the Perini Corp of which Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) husband is part owner.

Friday, October 3

energy meetings

A good letter to the editor that addresses the ongoing mystery of Cheney's Energy Meetings
To the Editor:

In "2 Servings of Reality, Please" (column, Sept. 28), Thomas L. Friedman concludes Iraq is a war of choice, not necessity. Whose choice and why? Vice President Dick Cheney's secret energy policy task force meetings might provide answers.

It is hard to imagine that the subject of Iraq and oil did not come up. Any specific discussion that just happened to preview our subsequent course of action in Iraq would be problematic for the president. What did he know and when did he know it? Pre-emptive war for reasons hidden from the public would be a historic first — and a dangerous precedent.

The Bush administration is seeking the Supreme Court's intervention to overturn a lower court decision that requires disclosure of information about the energy task force meetings. The vice president's frantic efforts to keep the documents secret might have as much to do with foreign policy as with energy policy. The nation's right to know has never been more important.

Metuchen, N.J., Sept. 28, 2003
The writer was governor of New Jersey, 1990-94
New York Times


The Coalition Provisional Authority updated its Business Guide for Iraq in September. The CPA also lists Requests for Proposals on their website. Just in case you are curious.

Today, National Public Radio Guy Raz ran a segment Iraq Reconstruction Slight on Infrastructure.

By contrast, BBC The World Quil Lawrence, also ran a segment, Iraq Report: Doing Business in Iraq that covered much more detail. On Thursdays in Iraq, Halliburton subsidiary KBR runs open sessions with itemized lists of contract work such as supplying ink jet cartridges. Commentary by local Iraqis was as expected: they feel they are not being taken seriously as being competitive to American companies for larger infrastructure contracts.

Interestingly enough, NPR quotes estimates from Bechtel that are far lower than those reported in print.

(You will need Windows Media Player and/or Real One Player to listen to the broadcasts)

Thursday, October 2

oil conference
Iraq plans to invite executives from as many as 60 foreign oil companies to a Baghdad conference to discuss ways of developing the country's vast oil resources.
According to the article at MSNBC, the December conference is being organized by Paul Bristol, an independent, London-based oil consultant.

there is a santa claus
The Senate approved a requirement on Thursday that all future contracts to rebuild Iraq be granted on an open and competitive basis. It was the first of several planned efforts by lawmakers of both parties to demand greater accountability from the Bush administration before approving its $87 billion spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan.
The amendment was sponsored by Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Read the rest in the Senate Votes to Require Open Bidding on Contracts in the New York Times.

Wednesday, October 1

whatta ya know

Someone agrees with bpost.
There's no question that the United States has an obligation and clear interest in rebuilding the country it invaded. The cost cannot be whittled down through political compromise or disguised as a loan.

The real problem is that without strong legislative safeguards and oversight, billions of taxpayer dollars are sure to be wasted through insufficiently competitive contracts to politically connected firms like Halliburton and Bechtel. That has largely been the pattern until now. Congress also needs to make sure that reconstruction programs do not fritter away their resources by relying on expensive American workers and supervisors when qualified, reliable and currently unemployed Iraqis could easily do the work.
It's unsigned so we don't know who agrees with us, but it's nice to know there are others out there.The Iraq Reconstruction Bonanza

more details

Well. They’ve done it now, Ollie. The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the initial $87 billion dollar spending supplemental.
The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed Bush's full request for military and reconstruction spending in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the panel put off the tough fights, and even some Republicans on the committee predicted a difficult fight on the Senate floor, especially over proposals to fund Iraq's rebuilding through loans, backed by Iraqi oil.
For once, bpost actually agrees with Ahmed Chalabi who we caught today on NPR. The money would be far better used as grants to local Iraqi businesses and workers than just payouts to US companies who turn around and subcontract.

Bpost also believes the $66 billion in military spending is a mistake. If one lesson can be learned thus far, it is that military spending is wide open for abuse. We’d swap the numbers: $20 billion for military spending and $66 billion for grants and humanitarian assistance.

Why? For beginners, the Department of Defense does not now fully account for its spending where as both the USAID and the State Department DO. Seems obvious to us at bpost any cuts should be coming from the DoD side of the budget. It also would act as impetus to get the White House moving to patch things up with the UN and her international partners. Of course, all of the war profiteering doesn’t help matters and most countries now expect payoffs in exchange for participation. The US needs to back off its control issues, share the wealth and the debt, and get as much help to Iraq as possible.

But then, nobody has asked us.
Oil Industry: $2.1 billion
To upgrade Iraq's oil industry
$900 million to import petroleum products kerosene and diesel
$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

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
$164 million a new curriculum for training for an Iraqi army
$150 million for a nationwide 911 system
$137.2 million for helicopter and medium airlift planes
$100 million for a witness protection program
$100 million for experts to investigate crimes against humanity
$50 million outlays for traffic police
$10 million for prison building experts for 6 months
$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
$3.6 million for 600 radios and phones
$2.6 million for 80 pickup trucks

Water: $3.7 billion
To upgrade water and sewer systems
$875 million for rehabilitation of irrigation systems and restoration of wetlands
$50 million irrigation culverts on the Euphrates River

$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

$393 million to refurbish 200 of Iraq's remaining 240 hospitals
$150 million state-of-the-art children's hospital
$100 million to build 7 planned communities of 3,258 houses
$54 million study for Iraqi postal service for a nationwide zip code system
$40 million for a $333-a-month computer training course
$20 million for business training for 200 students
$15 million to fund an Iraqi human rights office
$4 million to create a nationwide system of area codes and telephone numbers
$2 million for garbage trucks

US Military Expenses: $66 billion
$800 million to cover expenses incurred by other nations sending troops
$345 million for soldier’s housing units
$300 million to buy more body armor
$140 million for armored Humvees
$20 million for hellfire missiles
$13 million for mobile x-ray searching units

According to Iraq’s public works minister, Nesreen Barwari, $8 billion is needed to provide new infrastructure for safe drinking water. See U.S. Tells How Billions of Dollars Would Rebuild Iraq By Vernon Loeb, Washington Post, September 25, 2003.

An earlier report on the condition of Iraq’s power infrastructure shows a need for $18 billion dollars worth of repair, upgrade, and new construction just to meet current demand. See Crossed Wires Deprived Iraqis of Electric Power by Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the Washington Post, September 25, 2003.

GOP to Closely Examine $87B War Request
By Alan Fram
Associated Press
September 18, 2003
The Miami Herald

US Postwar Costs most expensive since Marshall Plan
By Richard V. Stevenson
New York Times
September 9, 2003
International Herald Tribune

US Budget Request for Additional FY04 Funding for War on Terror
Weekly Special Report
Office of the Press Secretary
Fact Sheet
September 8, 2003

GOP Finding Iraq War Request a Tough Sell
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post
October 1, 2003

In GOP, Concern Over Iraq Price Tag
By Jonathan Weisman and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post
September 25, 2003

U.S. Tells How Billions of Dollars Would Rebuild Iraq
By Vernon Loeb
Washington Post
September 25, 2003

Bush’s $87 Billion Request Detailed
By Esther Schrader and Janet Hook
Los Angeles Times
September 18, 2003