Wednesday, June 02, 2004

 

...And Getting Greasier By The Minute

On the American Prospect Online, Christy Harvey takes the Bush administration to task for their handling of defense contracts (The Big Greasy). Harvey wonders how the White House could award CACI International a brand-new $88 million contract to supply computer support for the Navy after it's role in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. Harvey writes:
CACI International initially was paid $66 million for its work in Iraq, which included supplying the military with interrogators. (No one seemed especially concerned that the company had no actual experience in professional interrogations.) In return for this contract, the U.S. government received interrogators like Steven Stefanowicz, the CACI employee considered by Major General Antonio Taguba to be "directly or indirectly responsible" for encouraging the horrific abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib. Today, the company is ensnared in five separate probes into misconduct, including an investigation by the General Services Administration, which would ban the company from receiving future government contracts.
And yet CACI received the $88 million contract. By contracting out defense, the US has absolutely lost control of its security. Supposedly, contracting out services makes everything more efficient - the market polices itself, allowing efficient and effective contractors to flourish and letting the rest fall to the side. Instead, there seems to be no competition (one could fairly state that CACI has done an unsatisfactory job of fulfilling its previous contract), contracts are given to companies that do not exhibit any particular capabilities (see CACI's experience with supplying interrogators as mentioned in Harvey's article), and the military has become increasingly dependent on contractors (not only because of how thin the military is spread - thanks a lot W, but also because skilled and experienced military or defense specialists know that they can earn more money working for a contractor than they could by working for the government). So the military becomes increasingly dependent on contractors who are accountable only to their CEOs it seems. What a disaster! Harvey's article doesn't stop with CACI (and neither does the Bush administration's poor history of giving contracts to delinquent firms): Titan, Northrop Grumman, Halliburton (you didn't think we could have this discussion without bringing up Halliburton did you?). It seems like Bush & co. may have started thinking about fighting for democracy in the Middle East, but then got sidetracked, like "What's better than democracy? Well... wealth" and "Who's more important than the Middle East? Umm... large companies with funny names (and funny connections to the veep)." Victory is just on the horizon.

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