Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pentagon Spin Machine in High Gear

The Iraqi bonanza enriching Pentagon contractors came under fire last week. An Associated Press article detailed the retaliation unleashed upon whistle blowers, people inside the firms or U.S. government that exposed abuses. In return they received harassment, firings, demotions and even torture (as previously defined by the Geneva Conventions). Their own Justice Department ignored them by failing to join the 'qui tam' lawsuits against unprincipled defense contractors.

So how did the Pentagon respond? First of all they said contractor abuses in Iraq are "not part of a broad conspiracy." There have been at least 73 criminal cases since the war began. Military sources say the cases involve $5 billion worth of contracts and allegations of up to $15 million in possible bribes.

Yet, these acts are broad enough for the Pentagon to consider changing the whole Pentagon contracting system. I'm confused. The Defense Department said the problem wasn't broad, so why look to change the broader system? I can't imagine the Pentagon contracting process mandates firms perform illegal acts, so why would the contracting system be the problem? The process specifies deliverables in return for a price. Or does it in the lackadaisical Bush administration? As a result of conducting compliance assessments, the Pentagon is now "concerned about the number of contracting improprieties."

Then there is the inconsistency between the government's shunning of whistle blowers and the Pentagon's intent to clean up the contracting system. Huh? Supporting qui tam suits would seem to be a useful tool in the Bush toolbox. Oooppps, I forgot. President Bush hates whistle blowers. He issued an executive order in May targeting fees paid to such people. Didn't you know? A Bush decree beats the law every time and it usually hammers the little guy or gal.