Libya, Inc.: Coming Waste, Fraud and Other Forms of Plunder on a Grand Scale – by Stephen Lendman
Like in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, wherever America and its Western allies show up, pillaging is sure to follow.
Libya is no exception, earmarked as another profit center to be exploited. A previous article discussed it, accessed through the following link:
It explained the process now begun to carve up the Libyan corpse for profit at the expense of millions of people who deserve better.
However, they’re entirely left out of America’s imperial agenda going forward with rich spoils at stake, including the usual waste, fraud and other pickings on an enormous scale.
A new congressional “Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan” investigation highlighted what Libya can expect. Titled, “Transforming Wartime Contracting: Controlling costs, reducing risks,” it documented plunder on a grand scale.
Access the full report through the following link:
It begins, saying:
“At least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud in America’s contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Calling its estimates conservative, it suggested the true amount is far greater than congressional investigators admit.
A previous article covered a decade of US war costs, accessed through the following link:
It discussed a June Brown University Watson Institute for International Studies (WIIS) “Cost of War” report, estimating (post-9/11) around $5,444 trillion spent and projected with all related expenses and obligations included.
In fact, including all related categories, America now spends around $1.5 trillion annually, suggesting a conservative post-9/11 total double or more Watson’s figure.
It constitutes a shocking waste of national resources at a time vital homeland needs go begging, including essential social services being systematically reduced or ended. It also suggests a level of fraud and waste multiple times higher than congressional investigators reported.
In fact, as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted on September 10, 2001:
“According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions” because the books are cooked to facilitate rampant Pentagon and defense contractor corruption.
It’s theft on the grandest scale, stealing unknown trillions, dwarfed only by much greater stolen Wall Street amounts.
On August 31, AP headlined, “Independent panel warns failure to make contracting reforms risks more wartime waste and fraud,” saying:
In Iraq and Afghanistan alone, America “lost billions of dollars to waste and fraud….and stands to repeat that in future wars without big changes in how the government awards and manages contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction projects, independent investigators said….”
Established in 2008, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) included four members from each party, created to investigate scandalous contractor malfeasance.
Calling its findings “sobering,” it said much of what was found could have been avoided. Moreover, “(u)nless changes are made, continued waste and fraud will undercut the effectiveness of money spent in future operations, whether they involve hostile threats overseas or national emergencies here at home requiring military participation and interagency response.”
Complicit with Wall Street’s controlled Fed, war profiteers can order up all the ready cash it wants to steal. With Congress, the White House, federal departments, and the Pentagon involved in the dirty game, who’ll take the lead to end a deal too sweet to stop.
Reports like CWC’s proliferate through Washington, followed by inaction or too little of it. Why expect change now, even in an investigation, saying:
“Fraud associated with federal government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been widespread.” It includes “bribery, gratuities, kickbacks, and conflicts of interest, as well as false claims and statements, cost/labor mischarging, bid rigging, and undelivered, defective and counterfeit products.”
In fact, the level of war profiteering sweetheart deals and kickbacks going back decades suggests trillions of dollars stolen because of militarism gone mad. Expect no independent investigations to uncover how much or that officials at the highest levels are involved.
In his 2005 book titled, “Grand Theft Pentagon: Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror,” Jeff St. Clair documented an explosive account of how contractors like Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bechtel and the Bush family-connected Carlyle Group among others scam multi-billions at taxpayer expense.
Though out-of-control by any measure, it’s largely unreported in the mainstream.
In addition, much grand theft since the Gulf War (exacerbated post-9/11) happened because functions formally performed by service personnel are now outsourced to private military contractors (PMCs).
Operating freely, they rip off the system absent checks and balances in place to stop them. Moreover, the total contract workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the number of troops and civilian employees.
A previous article discussed America’s growing use of PMCs, accessed through the following link:
It described those performing security functions as unprincipled paramilitary hired guns. Operating freely from criminal or civil accountability, they’re unchecked to kill or steal and get away with it, besides handsome amounts they’re paid.
Since the Cold War’s 1991 end, the Pentagon downsized to about two-thirds its former size, a process former defense secretary Dick Cheney called BRAC – Base Realignment and Closure, followed by privatizing military functions.
Ways wars are fought also changed. Earlier distinctions between soldiers and civilians broke down, the result of low-intensity conflicts against drug cartels, warlords and persons or groups aggressor nations call “terrorists.”
When employed for imperial purposes (like so-called Libyan “rebels”), they’re called “freedom fighters,” not rogue gangs given license to kill and loot freely.
High-intensity warfare also changed. So sailors aboard guided missile ships, for example, serve alongside weapons and technology company personal, needed for their specialized expertise.
Moreover, political thinking changed to believe whatever governments can do, business does better so let it. As a result, privatizing the military followed, piercing the last frontier to let PMC mercenaries serve in place of conventional forces.
They’re used as combatants and consultants, as well as for support services, intelligence and personal security, reaping enormous profits besides what they’re able to steal that may, in fact, be greater because checks and balances aren’t in place to stop them.
The CWC report covered various examples resulting from:
(1) Contractors managing other ones.
(2) Awarding no-bid long-term deals.
(3) Extending contracts well past their expiration dates.
(4) Using cost-plus instead of fixed-price contracts.
(5) Increasing ceilings on fixed-price contracts.
(6) Organizing work through multiple subcontractor tiers, making effective oversight impossible.
Notably, four large companies accounted for 40% of total contract dollars. Another 22 companies got deals of at least $1 billion, accounting for 52% of amounts awarded.
The concentration produced a “too big to fail” syndrome, affording vitally needed companies virtual immunity from accountability. It opened up a chasm for them to exploit in “the form of lower-quality materials, reduced training, and lower performance standards,” as well as numerous other ways to commit grand theft.
In fact, given license to steal, how many opportunists can resist, especially that when caught, penalties exacted pale compared to enormous profits and personal gain.
The report also admits that relying heavily on contractors contributed greatly to sustaining insurgents fighting against US/NATO occupation, saying:
“The largest source of funding for the insurgency is commonly recognized to be money from the drug trade. During a March 2011 trip to Afghanistan, experts told the Commission that extortion of funds from US construction projects and transportation contracts is the insurgents’ second-largest funding source.”
Drugs trafficking, in fact, proliferates because the CIA and Western financial interests benefit greatly from it. For Wall Street banks, it constitutes a major profit center.
Years ago, Max Keiser worked on Wall Street. On his Russia Today program, he once remarked that every Friday afternoon, limousines drove up to major banks to deposit suitcases of drug money to be laundered.
It’s one of many open Wall Street secrets, showing the corrupting power of money on a grand scale in amounts beyond comprehension.
The report also noted that in the last half century, America undertook 56 foreign interventions, including 10 land-based ones lasting a year or more. They include Southeast Asia (1960s-70s), Lebanon (1982-83), Panama (1989), Iraq (1990-91), Somalia (1992-93), Haiti (1993-96), Bosnia/Kosovo (1995-99), East Timor (1999-2000), Afghanistan and Iraq.
Libya now heads toward membership in a club Groucho Marx once described on a personal level, saying he wanted no part of one willing to have him as a member.
Nonetheless, CWC called the current geopolitical environment disturbing enough “to plan for the possibility that the United States may again become involved in overseas contingency operations that require extensive contractor support,” citing Libya as a case in point.
In fact, because the business of America is war, permanent war, multiple wars, what CWC called possible is guaranteed, because war profiteers want it no other way.
Unless militarism and grand theft at current levels cease, neither humanity or planet earth may survive the toll that keeps growing exponentially, because multiple US wars may escalate to a global catastrophic one.
That prospect too grim to imagine is real because enough good people aren’t committed to stop it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.