Perles Of Wisdom
article - SchNEWS, 4 April 2003
"There are a lot of people getting rich during war."
- Chuck Lewis, Centre for Public Integrity
"If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war ...our children will sing great songs about us years from now."
- Richard Perle
Despite whimperings from Prime Sinister Blair, US corporations look set to single-handedly rebuild the health, education, transport and political systems of Iraq - with the UN and international aid agencies not getting a sniff of the £60 billion worth of contracts being dished out by the US government. As fat corporate cats lick their lips at the money to be made from building airports and modernising Iraqi telecommunications and oil wells, SchNEWS can reveal that this is indeed a war of liberation - liberating Iraq's resources from Iraqis and handing them over to caring US companies.
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, Inayat Bunglawala, warned that these contracts will stoke anti-US sentiment and cause further violent resistance in Iraq. "People will believe the US is there to loot the wealth of the Iraqi people and draw money from Iraq back to the US, benefiting US corporations."
And what do you know - the reconstruction of Iraq will be awarded to a coalition of Bush's closest cronies! Overseeing rebuilding and humanitarian relief (if Bush has his way) will be Jay Garner, a retired US general who is, incidentally, the president of an arms company! Garner, a firm supporter of the Israeli military, has spent the last few years building weapons systems now being used in the Iraq war. How handy! And then there's Halliburton, the firm who'll get the job of putting out oil fires and making emergency repairs to Iraq's oil infrastructure, who oddly enough used to be run by US vice-president Dick Cheney. Cheney was chief executive of Halliburton until three years ago and still receives up to a million dollars a year from them. Union-busters Stevedoring Services of America have been handed the $4.8 million contract to run the port of Umm Qasr, while bidders for other contracts include Fluor, whose board includes a former director of the National Security Agency and deputy director of the CIA, and the Bechtel Group, whose boardroom boasts a former secretary of state and a former defence secretary!
But where is all this money coming from, one may well ask? After being bombed back to the Stone Age by the non-coalition US forces, Iraq certainly won't be able to cough up the money to pay the non-coalition US companies for its reconstruction. But here's the most beautiful part of all - it's the very people who Bush refuses to give a decent healthcare and education system to (i.e. the US taxpayer) that will line his mates' pockets. A significant chunk of the money being paid to US firms to rebuild Iraq was made available by the Iraq war bill, passed by Congress and giving Bush a $75 billion budget to wage war with taxpayers' money.
Half of the money goes to blow things up, while the other half goes to make the rebuilders rich. According to Charles Tiefer, author of a book on US government contracting, this is naked evidence that the Bush administration has used 'shortcuts' and 'exceptions' to put billions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of its mates. Tiefer believes "a large credibility gap looms between the administration's plausible excuses that tight deadlines and exceptional security needs compelled them to forgo the usual competitive safeguards and the critics' observations that it is awfully convenient for juicy plums to land in the lap of the vice president's former company."
Diamonds And Perles
That credibility gap grew even wider last week following Richard Perle's resignation as chairman of the Defence Policy Board. Though the board does not pay its members and is technically not a government agency, it wields tremendous influence. Perle decided to leave after revelations of a fairly huge conflict of interest--he is in line to receive $600,000 from bankrupt telecommunications company Global Crossing for helping it to 'overcome Defence Department resistance' to its proposed sale to a foreign company. The person he is being paid for persuading is none other than his old pal and a man he regularly advises, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.
In 1996 Perle helped write a study for an Israeli think tank entitled, 'A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm', calling for regime change in Iraq and a redrawing of the geopolitical map of the area. Just before the current bombing began, Perle spoke at a conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs titled, "Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now, North Korea Next?" At the conference, he advised business leaders about possible investment opportunities that might arise from the war.
Perle is also on the board of British firm Autonomy Corporation, a Cambridge based computer company that, surprise surprise, recently won a huge contract with America 's new Department of Homeland Security, set up after September 11th to increase public monitoring and surveillance. Autonomy has developed high-tech eavesdropping software that is capable of monitoring hundreds of thousands of e-mail and phone conversations at the same time. Add to all this the fact that Perle was one of the 'brains' behind the Project for the New American Century think tank whose demands included the establishment of a global American empire with the US policy of 'total war' and 'full spectrum dominance' (See SchNEWS 387) and it's hard not to feel sick to one's stomach.
And now our beloved Perle stands to do very nicely out of the foreign policy he has campaigned so strongly for. His own pockets are sure to be lined by his role in the venture capital firm Trireme Partners, which invests in homeland security and defence projects. SchNEWS is sure that the fear of terrorism stoked by bombing other countries does a handy job at helping his investments to prosper. For daring to insinuate that Trireme's and Perle's agenda might not be strictly altruistic, journalist Seymour Hersh has himself been labelled a "terrorist" by Perle and threatened with a libel suit. Apparently not confident enough to face US courts, however, Perle plans to bring his case to the UK, where libel laws are more relaxed.
As Chuck Lewis points out, "A defence contractor class that was already well fed is now getting bloated because we have so increased the defence budget in the last couple of years.(it is) the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned this country about 40 years ago, the former generals and the former defence security experts that serve in government then go into the private sector. They go to work for contractors and people see their names, they're impressed, it has credibility. And that's how they get their contracts. And it just is a continuation of itself. And then they tell us what weapon systems we need, and they tell us what wars we should be fighting, and it's a self-perpetuating situation. And it's been going on for years, but what we're seeing in this instance is absolutely unabashed."
More info -
Iraq booty - Cryptome - USAID + Diana B Henriques article
Richard Perle - Alternet - Chuck Lewis interview
- SchNEWS (4th April 2003)