...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Friday, September 16, 2005

Washington: company town.

CNN reports the first of the rebuilding contracts in the Gulf South have gone to Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and Root subsidiary (surprise surprise) and several companies with connections to the Bush White House. According to a Halliburton-watchdog site, KBR had hired Joe Albaugh as its Washington lobbyist. He was the head of FEMA for the first two years of the Bush Administration, and ran Mr. Bush's gubernatorial campaign in Texas in 1994, served as his chief of staff, and ran his presidential campaign in 2000.

Albaugh is only one former Administration official who's moved over to Halliburton's payroll. The most prominent was Dick Cheney, who's still collecting deferred compensation checks from his stint as CEO of the company, his sabbatical from government service.

It's hard to tell where the government ends and Halliburton begins, given the fact that KBR builds and runs the U.S. miliitary's logistics, serves their meals, runs the laundries, and much more in Iraq. Presumably this arrangement, invented by Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld years ago, frees us up to provide more soldiers for primary combat duty--higher-paid civilian employees do all that nasty KP duty. Why are we so shorthanded then, in the ranks, and why is Halliburton under investigation for overcharging us over there?

According to the Guardian, Congressional watchdogs are growling. But even humiliating failure in the Katrina disaster doesn't break up this Administration's corporate pork barbecue. How can some legislative committee in the Republican-controlled Congress expect to pull the plug?

Who's going to clean up this mess? Shall we apply for the contract?

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