How private firms have cashed in on the climate of fear since 9/11
The amount of money involved in this is truly disturbing as it is guaranteed to breed corruption and lead to all of us being less safe. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if someone followed the paper and discovered that a portion of the same money is fed back into the islamophobic anti-Muslim hate industry that keeps people terrified far out of proportion to the actual threat. It’s a highly lucrative industry that needs fear to survive & grow.
I realize that the carnival atmosphere of the upcoming 2012 elections will likely be a huge distraction for the next 14 months, and we definitely need to be cognizant and remain on guard of the threat posed by far right-wing elements who would undermine our Constitution, but I hope that we can focus on this other matter as well.
It’s my understanding that LGF was originally all about the real threat of violent, radical Islam. The likelihood that that the danger could actually be increased due to corporate interests, government, and the military forming a national security industrial complex that feeds on fear & conflict is frightening. And when I think about companies like Xe that have ties to the Christian right, then look at the potential GOP presidential candidates, it seems all the more urgent.
An all-out East vs. West holy war would be very profitable for certain people, wouldn’t it? View the connections, follow the paper, see where the money leads. Who is pulling the strings? Now is not the time to hunker down in fear, willing to give up anything & everything to be kept safe from some phantasmagorical bogeyman we’ve been convinced is going to come slithering out of the closet or crawling out from under the bed to strangle us as we sleep if we don’t do such-and-such or elect so-and-so.
We’re grown-ups, for God’s sake—how about we start acting the part so future generations can be proud of us the way we’re proud of those who fought to keep us safe and made the world a better place for us? If we’re exceptional as Americans, it’s not because being so is some sort of birthright, but because members of each generation earned it through their ability to adapt, integrate, and evolve as they struggled forward in spite of all their imperfections, fears & misgivings.
I’d really rather not go down in history as: “Oh, them? Yeah, they used to be called the Baby Boomers, and they had every advantage. Unfortunately, it made them soft & whiny instead of strong & grateful. We try to avoid bringing them up, but when we must, we just refer to them as Generation Wussy McPee-pants. //
Note: Added emphasis is mine.
Charles Smith always enjoyed visiting US troops aboard. Though a civilian, he had worked for the army for decades, helping to run logistical operations from the Rock Island arsenal near Davenport, Iowa.
He helped keep troops supplied, and on trips to Iraq made a point of sitting down with soldiers in mess halls. “I would always ask them: what are we doing for you?” Smith told the Guardian.
Smith eventually got oversight of a multibillion-dollar contract the military had struck with private firm KBR, then part of the Halliburton empire, to supply US soldiers in Iraq. But, by 2004, he noticed problems: KBR could not account for a staggering $1bn (£620m) of spending.
So Smith took a stand. He made sure a letter was hand-delivered to KBR officials, telling them that some future payments would be blocked. According to Smith, one KBR official reacted by saying: “This is going to get turned around.”
A few days later, Smith was abruptly transferred. The payments he suspended were resumed. “The emphasis had shifted. It was not about the troops. It was all about taking care of KBR,” he said. Eventually, Smith left the army. When he told his story to the New York Times, the paper ran an editorial. “In the annals of Iraq war profiteering, put Charles Smith down as one of the casualties,” it wrote. [Note: Here’s the editorial from the NY Times, which the Guardian article doesn’t link to.]
What Smith had blundered into is one of the most disturbing developments of the post-9/11 world: the growth of a national security industrial complex that melds together government and big business and is fuelled by an unstoppable flow of money. It takes many forms. In the military, it has seen the explosive growth of the contracting industry with firms such as Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, or DynCorp increasingly doing the jobs of professional soldiers. In the world of intelligence, private contractors are hired to do the jobs of America’s spies. A shadowy world of domestic security has grown up, milking billions from the government and establishing a presence in every state. From border fences that don’t work to dubious airport scanners, spending has been lavished on security projects as lobbyists cash in on behalf of corporate clients.
Meanwhile, generals, government officials and intelligence chiefs flock to private industry and embark on new careers selling services back to government.
Worldwide, the ratio of contractors to US soldiers in uniform is about one-to-one. During Vietnam it was one-to-eight. It has speeded up since 9/11. “In the last 10 years, spending at the Pentagon has shifted enormously to contractors,” said Pratap Chatterjee, a fellow at the Centre for American Progress and industry expert.