Nothing to See Here?

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The Center for Public Integrity's report on contracts for reconstruction work in postwar Iraq going to GOP donors has been making big headlines. Dan Drezner says it's all hype. Who's right? We report, you dec… err, no, that's a lawsuit waiting to happen, isn't it? How about: We link, you make up your mind.

NEXT: Tinky Winky Agonistes

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  1. I’ll check out how Hannity & colmes spin this one … if they even mention it. You can learn a lot by watching what the right wing talking heads spin and what they ignore; in other words, if they spin hard there is probably some truth in if they ignore it completely it is most definetly true.

    🙂

    PS I am not completely serious about my thesis regarding the pundits, but I bet it’s closer to reality then the Faux News dittoheads would admit.

  2. How many big construction companies are headed up by democrats? Limits the playing field a bit.

  3. How many of them does Dick Cheney personally own stock in?

  4. How many of them is required by law to pay an annual fixed sum to Dick Cheney?

  5. The real world seems not to know anything about contracting. The emergency work being done could never have been competitively bid without months to prepare documents and drawings, and then if anything unusual came up, the sky is the limit for extra charges.
    Haliburten is very likely the most qualified oil field service company in the world, just as Bechtel is very much the world’s most qualified general contractor.
    Anyone who thinks that either of these companies was given a license to steal is invited to check their stock prices. Anyone who is a world class worker and who is willing to go work in 120 degree heat, often under risk of fire and bombing is worth the very good money they make.
    And as for the political “contributions,” the Democrats got their share, especially during Viet Nam.

  6. How is a tax payer to know if Betchel and Halliburton are truly the most qualified if they are generally the ones awarded all the contracts? For all we know, they are the best at bidding on contracts!

    Is there a monopoly on post war contracts?

  7. “And as for the political “contributions,” the Democrats got their share, especially during Viet Nam. ”

    They couldn’t have Gene, you know the Democrats don’t have ANY ties to big business. Kennedy went into ‘Nam for the idealism, don’t you know.

    Only the kind of people with “Democrats Care” stickers on their cars would object to that assertion. But how is showing the bipartisan nature of crony capitalism relevant in a discussion of whether Cheney’s associates are guilty of it?

  8. If many or all of the contracts had been awarded to female- or minority-run companies, you wonder how this story would have spun out.

  9. Didn’t one of you Reasonites say something along the lines about this Administration having the worst feel for semiotics in history?

    What is something the laziest, most unimaginative person who’s against this war might say?

    “Dude, Bush is just having this war so his rich friends like Halliburton can make money and steal the oil!”

    So what’s one of the first things they do, rather than controlling the looting, or getting the power back on, or 100 other things? They give Halliburton billions in no-bid contracts.

    Couldn’t they at least show a little restraint, decorum, taste, what’s the word I’m looking for?

  10. Halliburton had their contract to provide services to the military extended in early 1999, while they were providing logistics support in the Balkans War. Just using google.com I was able to find the official company press release anouncing the news. Therefore all this talk about “no-bid” Iraqi contracts is just bogus. The contract was bid years ago, and they won it.

    As far as Bechtel goes (I will disclose that my father worked nuclear plant construction for them for close to 20 years so I am biased) they are the best folks for the job. They developed the oil fields in Saudi Arabia, which means they have had a presence in the region since the mid ’70’s. They are the top US international construction company, and have been for years.

    I just don’t see a story here unless you spin and spin hard. All companies these days are force to spend money on political contributions thanks to the ever growing regulatory power of the federal government. How can you be surprised to find that contruction, oil field, and defense services contractors gave more money to the party that is obviously friendlier to their respective industries?

  11. I’m inclined to agree w/ Bennett. This isn’t about cronyism, so much as the natural tendency of large corporations that depend on tax dollars for their income to feel a political affinity with the alleged party of smaller government and rugged individualism.

  12. All of them. Cheney’s a government employee now.

  13. Not to harp on the obvious, but the companies in question are all very large, with interests in government policy that extend well beyond their work in Iraq. Campaign contributions could help a large corporation get things from government it wants, or deter government from doing something the corporation doesn’t want it to, but they work more effectively in areas more directly subject to political control and less encumbered by procedures than the awarding of military contracts. Tax policy, environmental regulations, securities regulations are all areas where a company as large as Bechtel might seek to use campaign contributions to get what it wants; other tools are needed in the contracting area.

    Incidentally, the government contracting procedures that serve to guard against graft and corruption also make it more difficult to do projects quickly. Some of the best reconstruction work now being done in Iraq is apparently being funded through money seized in-country by military units and used to pay Iraqi contractors with only very informal review by American military officers. It’s procedurally completely improper, and substantively absolutely necessary.

  14. If you compared the 1990-2002 contributions list to the “Total Government Earnings, 1990-2002” list, you’ll see that they’re basically identical. GE is #1 on both lists, Vinnell is #2 on both, SAIC is the #4 donor and #3 contractor, Bechtel the #6 donor and #5 contractor, etc. This is a chicken-or-the-egg thing; are the companies getting contracts because of contributions, or are they contributing because they’re contractors? I’d guess it’s a mix of both.

    The relationship between contributions and Iraq contracts, however, is a lot more vague. The #1 donor, GE, is 34th on the list of Iraq contractors (they’re rebuilding generators in Iraq, mainly). The #2 donor is 20th on the list of Iraq contractors. The #3 Iraq contractor, “International American Products”, with just under $527 million in Iraq contracts, contributed a mere $2500 to campaigns during the entire 12-year period.

    The big overlap between “donation” and “Iraq contracts” comes from the construction companies — Fluor, Bechtel, and Halliburton. It seems pretty obvious that this overlap is coincidence. In the absence of any campaign contributions at all, if you had to pick three companies to do the work, those would be a likely three. There might have been some discrimination against non-American companies, though (but frankly that doesn’t bug me much, since it’s American money being spent).

    I would certainly assume that, in the 2000 elections, Bush got the lion’s share of the contributions from the companies on this list. Oil-industry and construction firms aren’t going to want Al “Earth in the Balance” Gore as President, after all — and Gore wasn’t much of a supporter of military spending, either.

  15. Microsoft didn’t believe in making political contributions, and look what happened to them. Reno didn’t back off until the backsheesh met the minimum daily requirements.

    And the last time I checked, Dr. Rice was both woman and minority. Of course, she ain’t a whiner, so she doesn’t count.

  16. I am inclined to believe, joe, that your last post was sarcastic. I am, however, unable to make any sense of it.

  17. Once again I must declare, that the continued gambling here remains nonetheless shocking. SHOCKING

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