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Monday, September 05, 2011

$60bn to pockets of war contractors

A US congressional probe has revealed gross negligence and fraud in government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan to the tune of USD 60 billion.

Press TV talks with Jeff Steinberg, Editor, Executive Intelligence Review from Washington about the report revealed by the Commission on Wartime Contracting that he commends for revealing at least a part of the truth detailing bribes and kickbacks between private war contractors likely to be far greater than the 60 billion dollars of US tax payers' money estimated in the report. Following is a transcript of the interview.

Press TV: You've heard the allegations made in this report - tell us more about it and also about the entity that has revealed it, the Commission on Wartime Contracting?

Jeff Steinberg: The revelations are shocking and dramatic, but at the same time they really are no surprise. The whole idea of taking major military government functions and outsourcing them to private contractors that are basically profiteers and pirates is something that has consequences.

You waste tens of billions of dollars, you basically denigrate whatever the actual intent of the military operation is...

So, I think it's commendable that a government-sanctioned commission has come out and said look we really messed this thing up. Sixty billion dollars in tax payers' money at a time when we are suffering tremendous economic problems and we're talking about massive cuts in social programs. This is going to cause a very big backlash in the US and it's completely justifiable.

I commend the fact that a government-sanctioned commission has had the guts to tell at least a part of the truth about a scandal that in reality is far far bigger.

Press TV: You mentioned a backlash from this report - if this is true it means the government has some explaining to do to the American public; a public that has been tackling issues such as unemployment, home foreclosures and do on and so forth...

Jeff Steinberg: Let's not forget that the level of approval for the US Congress covers somewhere between eight and twelve percent. And the approval rate for [US] President [Barack] Obama is in the twenties and thirties so... that means an overwhelming majority of Americans have already concluded that the government has carried out policies that have greatly undermined the basic interests of the American people.

This is therefore an already ongoing process...look... The bailout of Wall Street since 2007, 2008 has probably totaled somewhere in the range of 23 trillion dollars. And that's money that has come out of taxpayers and suddenly President Obama is saying that the American people are going to have to suck it in and bit the bullet and accept the idea that there are going to be massive cuts in programs like social security and Medicare that people have paid into with parts of their hard earned wages for decades.

This is a crisis point... We're at a break point and the American people are fed up with being told that they have to pay the price for the hideous mistakes made by their elected officials.

And the 60 billion dollar figure is probably a fraction of what we're really talking about in terms of waste and fraud and abuse in funds that were expended on the Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures.

This is going to be a big political issue - this may very well be the deciding issue in the upcoming congressional elections that are now only 14 months away. 


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