A Great Empire in Decline…

Viral

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عبد الباري عطوان في ذكرى 11 سبتمبر أمريكا لم تعد أمريكا التي نعرف الهزائم تتوالى و المجد يتلاشى​


Sep 11, 2021
 

Viral

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Chris Hedges: We Americans kill with an inchoate fury. The evil we do is the evil we get

11 Sep, 2021 11:29

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FILE PHOTO: Firemen work around the World Trade Center after both towers collapsed in New York, US, September 11, 2001. © REUTERS/Peter Morgan


Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and host of RT’s On Contact, a weekly interview series on US foreign policy, economic realities and civil liberties in American society. He’s the author of 14 books, including several New York Times best-sellers.
The hijackers who carried out the attacks on 9/11, like all radical jihadist groups in the Middle East, spoke to us in the murderous language we taught them.
I was in Times Square in New York City shortly after the second plane banked and plowed into the South Tower. The crowd looking up at the Jumbotron gasped in dismay at the billowing black smoke and the fireball that erupted from the tower. There was no question now that the two attacks on the Twin Towers were acts of terrorism. The earlier supposition, that perhaps the pilot had a heart attack or lost control of the plane when it struck the North Tower seventeen minutes earlier, vanished with the second attack. The city fell into a collective state of shock. Fear palpitated throughout the streets. Would they strike again? Where? Was my family safe? Should I go to work? Should I go home? What did it mean? Who would do this? Why?
The explosions and collapse of the towers, however, were, to me, intimately familiar. I had seen it before. This was the familiar language of empire. I had watched these incendiary messages dropped on southern Kuwait and Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War and descend with thundering concussions in Gaza and Bosnia. The calling card of empire, as was true in Vietnam, is tons of lethal ordnance dropped from the sky. The hijackers spoke to America in the idiom we taught them.
The ignorance, masquerading as innocence, of Americans, mostly white Americans, was nauseating. It was the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. It was the greatest act of terrorism in American history. It was an incomprehensible act of barbarity. The stunningly naive rhetoric, which saturated the media, saw the blues artist Willie King sit up all night and write his song “Terrorized”.
“Now you talk ‘bout terror,” he sang. “I been terrorized all my days.”
But it was not only Black Americans who were familiar with the endemic terror built into the machinery of white supremacy, capitalism, and empire, but those overseas who the empire for decades sought to subdue, dominate, and destroy. They knew there is no moral difference between those who fire Hellfire and cruise missiles or pilot militarized drones, obliterating wedding parties, village gatherings or families, and suicide bombers.
ALSO ON RT.COM9/11: The spies inside Al-Qaeda who could have prevented the attacks
They knew there is no moral difference between those who carpet-bomb North Vietnam or southern Iraq and those who fly planes into buildings. In short, they knew the evil that spawned evil. America was not attacked because the hijackers hated us for our values. America was not attacked because the hijackers followed the Quran – which forbids suicide and the murder of women and children. America was not attacked because of a clash of civilizations.
America was attacked because the virtues we espouse are a lie. We were attacked for our hypocrisy. We were attacked for the campaigns of industrial slaughter that are our primary way of speaking with the rest of the planet. Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense in the summer of 1965, called the bombing raids, which would eventually kill hundreds of thousands of civilians north of Saigon, a form of communication with the communist government in Hanoi.
The lives of Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians, Libyans, and Yemenis are as precious as the lives of those killed in the Twin Towers. But this understanding, this ability to see the world as the world saw us, eluded Americans who, refusing to acknowledge the blood on their own hands, instantly bifurcated the world into good and evil, us and them, the blessed and the damned. The country drank deep of the dark elixir of nationalism, the heady elevation of us as a noble and wronged people. The flip side of nationalism is always racism. And the poisons of racism and hate infected the American nation to propel it into the greatest strategic blunder in its history, one from which it will never recover.
We did not, and do not, grasp that we are the mirror image of those we seek to destroy. We too kill with an inchoate fury. Over the past two decades, we have extinguished the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who never sought to harm the United States or were involved in the attacks on American soil. We too use religion, in our case the Christian faith, to mount a jihad or crusade. We too go to war to fight phantoms of our own creation.
ALSO ON RT.COM20 years after 9/11, I no longer recognize my country. The US has become a malignant narcissist, infecting all it encounters
I walked down the West Side Highway that morning to the moonscape the Twin Towers had become after they collapsed. Climbing over the rubble, hacking and coughing because of the toxic fumes from the burning asbestos, jet fuel, lead, mercury, cellulose, and construction debris, I saw the tiny bits of human flesh and body parts that were all that remained from the towers’ nearly 3,000 victims. It was obvious no one in the towers when they collapsed survived.
The manipulation of the images, however, had already begun. The scores of “jumpers,” those who leapt to their deaths before the collapses, were censored from the live broadcasts. They seemed to wait for turns. They often fell singly or in pairs, sometimes with improvised parachutes made from drapes, sometimes replicating the motions of swimmers. They reached speeds of 150 miles an hour during the 10 seconds it took before they hit the pavement. The bodies made a sickening thud on impact. All who saw them fall spoke of this sound.
The mass suicide was one of the pivotal events of 9/11. But it was immediately expunged from public consciousness. The jumpers did not fit into the myth the nation demanded. The hopelessness and despair were too disturbing. It exposed our smallness and fragility. It illustrated that there are levels of suffering and fear that lead us to willingly embrace death. The “jumpers” reminded us that one day we will all face only one choice and that is how we will die, not how we will live.
The story being fabricated out of the ashes of the Twin Towers was a story of resilience, heroism, courage and self-sacrifice, not collective suicide. So, the mass murder and mass suicide were replaced with an encomium to the virtues and prowess of the American spirit.
The nation, fed this narrative, soon parroted back the clichés about terror. We became what we abhorred. The 9/11 deaths were used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan, “Shock and Awe”, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, airstrikes, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The corpses piled up in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan, justified by our beatified dead. Twenty years later these dead haunt us like Banquo’s ghost.
ALSO ON RT.COMThe US’ ‘anti-terror’ tools that failed in Afghanistan are being keenly used on activists at home… as the 1/6 witch-hunt shows
The intoxication of violence, the anodyne of war, is a poison. It condemns critical thought as treason. Its call to patriotism is little more than collective self-worship. It imparts a god-like power and license to destroy, not only things, but other human beings. But war is, ultimately, about betrayal, as the defeat in Afghanistan elucidates. Betrayal of the young by the old. Betrayal of idealists by cynics. Betrayal of soldiers and marines by war profiteers and politicians.
War, like all idols, begins by demanding the sacrifice of others but ends with the demand for self-sacrifice. The Greeks, like Sigmund Freud, grasped that war is the purist expression of the death instinct, the desire to exterminate all systems of life, including, ultimately, our own. Ares, the Greek god of war, was frequently drunk, quarrelsome, impetuous, and a lover of violence for its own sake. He was hated by nearly all the other gods, except the god of the underworld, Hades, to whom he delivered a steady stream of new souls. Ares’s sister, Eris, the goddess of chaos and strife, spread rumor and jealousy to fan the flames of war.
ALSO ON RT.COMChris Hedges: The revengeful suffering orchestrated by the American empire on Afghans will be of Biblical proportions
The defeat in Afghanistan has not forced a reckoning. The media coverage does not acknowledge the defeat, replacing it with the absurd idea that, by withdrawing, we defeated ourselves. The plight of women under Taliban rule and the frantic effort of the elites and those who collaborated with the foreign occupation forces to flee are myopically used to ignore the two decades of unmitigated terror and death we perpetrated on the Afghan people.
This moral fragmentation, where we define ourselves by tangential and often fictitious acts of goodness, is a psychological escape hatch. It allows us to avoid looking at who we are and what we have done. This willful blindness is what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton calls “doubling,” the “division of the self into two functioning wholes, so that the part-self acts as an entire self.” This doubling, Lifton noted, is often done “outside of awareness.” And it is an essential ingredient to carrying out evil. If we refuse to see ourselves as we are, if we cannot shatter the lie perpetuated by our moral fragmentation, there is no hope of redemption. The gravest danger we face is the danger of alienation, not only from the world around us, but from ourselves.
 

Viral

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واشنطن تسحب منظومات «باتريوت» من السعودية

  • السبت 11 أيلول 2021​
  • وبحسب الوكالة، فإن سحب هذه المعدّات من قاعدة الأمير سلطان الجوية، يأتي في وقت يراقب حلفاء واشنطن في الخليج بـ«قلق»، الانسحاب الفوضوي للولايات المتحدة من أفغانستان، وفيما تستمرّ هجمات قوات صنعاء على المملكة.


    2021911144619481637669683794813529.jpg

    (أ ف ب)

    وتضيف الوكالة أنه في وقت سابق، أظهرت الصور أنه تمّ إزالة بعض البطاريات من الموقع أواخر آب، مع استمرار وجود بعض المركبات والحركة. غير أن صورة التُقطت أمس، أظهرت أن الموقع بات خالياً تماماً، ولم يتم رصد أي أنشطة فيه.

    في السياق، نقلت الوكالة عن الباحث،كريستيان أولريشسن، قوله: «من الواضح أن الولايات المتحدة لا تُظهر التزاماً تجاه الخليج كما في الماضي، بحسب عدد كبير من صنّاع القرار في المنطقة»، لافتاً إلى أن الرؤساء الأميركيين الذين تعاقبوا أخيراً، أيّ أوباما وترامب وبايدن «يتّخذون قرارات تُظهر إلى حدّ ما نوعاً من التخلّي عن السعودية».

    وعلى مدى أشهر، تستمرّ الولايات المتحدة في إعادة تموضعها العسكري، رغبةً منها في مواجهات ما يعتبره مسؤولون أميركيون، تحدياً ملحّاً من جهة الصين وروسيا، وفق ما أفادت الوكالة.

    يشار إلى أن قاعدة الأمير سلطان الجوية استصافت الآلاف من القوات الأميركية، عقب هجوم بالصواريخ والطائرات المسيّرة عام 2019، على شركة «أرامكو» السعودية.

 

Viral

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Why is Biden Prosecuting Assange for Telling the Truth about Afghanistan? | Opinion

DANIEL ELLSBERG, ALICE WALKER AND NOAM CHOMSKY , ASSANGE DEFENSE
ON 9/10/21

As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, in the midst of a wrenching reassessment of our endless wars, we cannot ignore the U.S. government's persecution of those who revealed the brutality of the Afghan war and the lies on which it was founded.

The Biden administration is stubbornly pursuing the extradition of Julian Assange, who exposed the corrupt motives and doomed policies behind the War on Terror. This unprecedented political prosecution poses a grave threat to truth telling and freedom of the press.

Commentators across the media have drawn parallels between the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul and the fall of Saigon in 1975. Four years before the exit from Vietnam, The New York Times, The Washington Post and 17 other newspapers published the Pentagon Papers, a classified archive showing that U.S. intervention in Vietnam had been wrong from the start, and was prolonged for decades through deliberate deception.



One of us, Daniel Ellsberg, released those files. Fifty years after his case was dismissed due to governmental criminal misconduct, the American bombing and occupation of Vietnam is viewed near-unanimously as an ill-fated policy whose pursuit was morally wrong. The parallels between that case and the work of Assange—and his source, U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning—are striking. Thanks in large part to their revelations a decade ago, Americans are increasingly seeing our occupation and bombing of Afghanistan in a similar light to our Vietnam policy.

When Assange published hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the public was given an unprecedented window into the lack of justification and the futility of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The truth was hidden by a generation of governmental lies. Assange's efforts helped show the American public what their government was doing in their name.


Assange summed up his anti-war ethos at a 2011 rally in London. "The goal is justice, the method is transparency," he said. "If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth."

Manning told the judge in her court-martial, "I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live." Manning and Assange acted on their belief that the public deserved to see the reality of these wars and the horrors of how they were conducted.


Two of us, Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, testified for Assange at his extradition hearing last year. In Ellsberg's words then, the WikiLeaks publications that Assange is being charged for are "amongst the most important truthful revelations of hidden criminal state behavior that have been made public in U.S. history." The American public "needed urgently to know what was being done routinely in their name, and there was no other way for them to learn it than by unauthorized disclosure."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange approaches microphones

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange approaches microphones before addressing the media as he leaves Belmarsh Magistrates' Court, in southeast London, on Feb. 11, 2011.CARL COURT/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

When the files were first published, with Joe Biden as vice president, the Obama administration empaneled a grand jury to investigate. In 2013, it declined to prosecute due to what it called the "New York Times problem"—the dilemma of indicting Assange for the very same kind of investigative journalism that mainstream media engages frequently (though not as much as they should). But in May 2019, viewing the press as "the enemy of the people," the Trump Justice Department indicted Assange under the much-abused Espionage Act.

No media outlet or journalist has ever been successfully prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information in the public interest, which is protected by the First Amendment. These charges send a message to reporters around the world—Assange is an Australian citizen, not an American—that the U.S. government will decide what can and cannot be published about its misdeeds, even beyond its borders.


Assange warned the public that the goal in Afghanistan "is to have an endless war, not a successful war." Last month, as troops were beginning to pull out of Afghanistan, video of these comments went viral, with more than 3 million views in a week. Assange's warning in 2011 is conventional wisdom in 2021.

So why isn't he a free man? In January, a British judge denied the U.S. extradition request on grounds that sending Assange to the U.S. prison system would put him at risk of suicide. In Donald Trump's final days in office, the U.S. government appealed that decision.

Biden's Justice Department, which has proclaimed a renewed commitment to press freedom, could end these proceedings at any moment. Biden now owns the prosecution of Julian Assange by actively pursuing Trump's appeal.


Biden stuck to his word and finally ended the war in Afghanistan. But he cannot close this chapter with the man who told the truth about that war still in prison.

Daniel Ellsberg, Alice Walker and Noam Chomsky are co-chairs of Assange Defense
.
 

Viral

Well-Known Member

Shocking report exposes how US defense contractors have wasted trillions through fraud and corruption

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By Kit Klarenberg, an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg
The newly released ‘Profits of War’ report from Brown University has revealed in staggering detail the full extent of the corruption unleashed by Washington’s profligate defense spending during the 20-year War on Terror.
It notes that since the start of the intervention in Afghanistan in October 2001, Pentagon spending has totalled $14 trillion, with the US war budget increasing between 2002 and 2003 by more than the entire military spending of any other country. Between one-third and one-half of that total was pocketed by defense firms, which provided logistics and reconstruction, private security services and weapons – along the way, these contractors habitually engaged in “questionable or corrupt business practices,” including fraud, abuse, price-gouging and profiteering.
Wartime conditions meant standard contract processes were circumvented – bidders, bids, and subsequent delivery weren’t subject to significant oversight, so fleecing the Pentagon was extremely easy, particularly for well-connected companies with government ties.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman have in recent years been awarded between a quarter to a third of all Pentagon contracts. It’s surely no coincidence that four of the past five US Defense Secretaries previously worked at one of the ‘big five’.
A key focus of the report is Halliburton, which was awarded an open-ended contract without competition, to provide a wide array of support for US soldiers overseas, including setting up and managing military bases, maintaining equipment, catering, and laundry services. A 2003 internal Pentagon review found the company had dramatically overcharged for basic goods and services to the tune of tens of millions, and conducted faulty work on bases that put soldiers at risk.
ALSO ON RT.COMTwenty years on from 9/11, the ‘War on Terror’ has morphed into a ‘war’ against the West’s own populations
In some cases, Halliburton billed Washington for services it didn’t actually provide – in 2009, it was determined the number of meals for which it charged the Pentagon was up to 36 percent greater than the true figure. In others, the company’s reckless conduct had fatal consequences. The report documents how, from 2004 to 2008, at least 18 military personnel in Halliburton-built bases across Iraq were electrocuted due to sub-par installations.
It took the death of a Green Beret who was electrocuted while showering for Congress to launch an investigation into the issue, with a resultant review revealing that the wider building was found to have “serious electrical problems” almost a year before he died, but Halliburton did nothing to remedy the situation – not least because its contract didn’t oblige the firm to “[fix] potential hazards.” The company was also found to have employed untrained or inexperienced electricians to do work at a lower rate, while billing Washington for fees provided by professionals.
Despite criminal investigations being launched by the FBI, Justice Department, and Pentagon Inspector General during the mid-00s into Halliburton’s activities in Iraq, not a single employee was ever penalized, its government contracts only multiplied thereafter, and a civil servant who’d raised numerous concerns about the company’s conduct was demoted.
The firm’s insulation from prosecution may well be explained by Vice President **** Cheney serving as its CEO between 1995 and 2000 – he still held stock options worth millions, and had received millions of thousands of dollars more in deferred compensation for his role, when the War on Terror began.
Cheney was also instrumental in the privatization of US warfare more widely. In 1992, under his direction as Defense Secretary, the Pentagon paid the parent company of Halliburton $3.9 million to produce a report on how private contractors could provide logistics in overseas theaters of conflict.
Numerous examples of fraud, waste, and abuse in Afghanistan are also documented in ‘Profits of War’, including a US-appointed economic task force spending $43 million on a gas station that was never used, $150 million on lavish living quarters for economic advisors, and $3 million for patrol boats for the Afghan police that were also never used.
A cited Congressional investigation found a significant portion of the $2 billion in transportation contracts splurged by Washington ended up as kickbacks to warlords, police officials, or even the Taliban, sometimes as much as $1,500 per vehicle, or up to half a million dollars for each large convoy of 300 trucks. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated such “protection money” was one of the group’s major sources of funding.
Smaller contractors weren’t always bulletproof though. Custer Battles, a firm founded by a former Army Ranger and an ex-CIA operative in the aftermath of 9/11, was awarded a contract – its first ever – to guard Baghdad airport, and collect old Iraqi currency so it could be destroyed. The firm’s chiefs had no experience in airport security, employed security guards with no prior training, didn’t hire translators who spoke Arabic, and acquired no security dogs to detect explosives.
ALSO ON RT.COMBiden to launch NUCLEAR tech working group alongside UK and Australia in apparent bid to push back against China – reports
Its operatives also went on a shooting spree in the city of Umm Qasr, firing on civilian cars and crowded minibuses, and only stopping when local authorities and a British military unit intervened. Mercifully, no one was injured or killed – no disciplinary actions arose either, as the staffers bribed witnesses to keep quiet.
Custer’s CEO was paying himself $3 million annually, and company staff on-the-ground lived in supreme luxury, their complexes replete with swimming pools, air conditioning and wireless internet – meanwhile, US troops often stayed in tents and abandoned buildings. In 2004, a consultant to the firm came across an internal document that exposed gross overcharges, provision of fake leases and bills, and use of false front companies by Custer. The company was barred from receiving any further US government contracts, and fined a meagre $10,000.
Still, those repercussions are positively seismic when one considers no major US defense contractor has to date ever suffered significant financial or criminal consequences for their work – or lack thereof – during the War on Terror. What’s more, there’s no indication any lessons have been learned in Washington – quite the opposite, in fact. The report notes the sector has “ample tools at its disposal to influence decisions over Pentagon spending going forward.”
Foremost is a vast and extremely well-funded lobbying effort. Defense contractors have provided $285 million in campaign contributions since 2001, with a special focus on presidential candidates, Congressional leadership, and members of the armed services and appropriations committees. Moreover, these firms have spent $2.5 billion on lobbying since 9/11, each employing over 700 lobbyists annually over the past five years on average, more than one for every member of Congress.
Many of these lobbyists, the report states, have passed through a “revolving door” from jobs in Congress, the Pentagon, National Security Council and other agencies key to determining the size and scope of the US military budget. Company chiefs openly brag about their effective purchase of lawmakers – in October 2001, Harry Stonecipher, then-Vice President of Boeing, declared that “any member of Congress who doesn’t vote for the funds we need to defend this country will be looking for a new job after next November.”
ALSO ON RT.COMWATCH: Senator rips top diplomat after he admits he doesn't know if US drone strike killed Afghan aid worker or ISIS-K terrorist
With the War on Terror now seemingly over, “exaggerated estimates of the military challenges posed by China have become the new rationale of choice” for defense contractors, as they seek to bloat the already unbelievably voluminous US defense budget even further.
In 2019, the National Defense Strategy Commission published a scaremongering report, which proposed three to five percent annual growth in the Pentagon budget to address the purported threat of China. Ever since, those figures have become a mantra for hawks in government, think tanks and the media – as the report notes, nine of the 12 members of the Commission had direct or indirect ties to the arms industry.
One can’t help but be reminded of President Eisenhower’s farewell address, in which he offered a prophetic – and clearly unheeded – warning about the ever-growing power of the defense sector.
“We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all US corporations,” he reflected.
“The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government…We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”
 

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Shocking report exposes how US defense contractors have wasted trillions through fraud and corruption

View attachment 25068


By Kit Klarenberg, an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg
The newly released ‘Profits of War’ report from Brown University has revealed in staggering detail the full extent of the corruption unleashed by Washington’s profligate defense spending during the 20-year War on Terror.
It notes that since the start of the intervention in Afghanistan in October 2001, Pentagon spending has totalled $14 trillion, with the US war budget increasing between 2002 and 2003 by more than the entire military spending of any other country. Between one-third and one-half of that total was pocketed by defense firms, which provided logistics and reconstruction, private security services and weapons – along the way, these contractors habitually engaged in “questionable or corrupt business practices,” including fraud, abuse, price-gouging and profiteering.
Wartime conditions meant standard contract processes were circumvented – bidders, bids, and subsequent delivery weren’t subject to significant oversight, so fleecing the Pentagon was extremely easy, particularly for well-connected companies with government ties.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman have in recent years been awarded between a quarter to a third of all Pentagon contracts. It’s surely no coincidence that four of the past five US Defense Secretaries previously worked at one of the ‘big five’.
A key focus of the report is Halliburton, which was awarded an open-ended contract without competition, to provide a wide array of support for US soldiers overseas, including setting up and managing military bases, maintaining equipment, catering, and laundry services. A 2003 internal Pentagon review found the company had dramatically overcharged for basic goods and services to the tune of tens of millions, and conducted faulty work on bases that put soldiers at risk.
ALSO ON RT.COMTwenty years on from 9/11, the ‘War on Terror’ has morphed into a ‘war’ against the West’s own populations
In some cases, Halliburton billed Washington for services it didn’t actually provide – in 2009, it was determined the number of meals for which it charged the Pentagon was up to 36 percent greater than the true figure. In others, the company’s reckless conduct had fatal consequences. The report documents how, from 2004 to 2008, at least 18 military personnel in Halliburton-built bases across Iraq were electrocuted due to sub-par installations.
It took the death of a Green Beret who was electrocuted while showering for Congress to launch an investigation into the issue, with a resultant review revealing that the wider building was found to have “serious electrical problems” almost a year before he died, but Halliburton did nothing to remedy the situation – not least because its contract didn’t oblige the firm to “[fix] potential hazards.” The company was also found to have employed untrained or inexperienced electricians to do work at a lower rate, while billing Washington for fees provided by professionals.
Despite criminal investigations being launched by the FBI, Justice Department, and Pentagon Inspector General during the mid-00s into Halliburton’s activities in Iraq, not a single employee was ever penalized, its government contracts only multiplied thereafter, and a civil servant who’d raised numerous concerns about the company’s conduct was demoted.
The firm’s insulation from prosecution may well be explained by Vice President **** Cheney serving as its CEO between 1995 and 2000 – he still held stock options worth millions, and had received millions of thousands of dollars more in deferred compensation for his role, when the War on Terror began.
Cheney was also instrumental in the privatization of US warfare more widely. In 1992, under his direction as Defense Secretary, the Pentagon paid the parent company of Halliburton $3.9 million to produce a report on how private contractors could provide logistics in overseas theaters of conflict.
Numerous examples of fraud, waste, and abuse in Afghanistan are also documented in ‘Profits of War’, including a US-appointed economic task force spending $43 million on a gas station that was never used, $150 million on lavish living quarters for economic advisors, and $3 million for patrol boats for the Afghan police that were also never used.
A cited Congressional investigation found a significant portion of the $2 billion in transportation contracts splurged by Washington ended up as kickbacks to warlords, police officials, or even the Taliban, sometimes as much as $1,500 per vehicle, or up to half a million dollars for each large convoy of 300 trucks. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated such “protection money” was one of the group’s major sources of funding.
Smaller contractors weren’t always bulletproof though. Custer Battles, a firm founded by a former Army Ranger and an ex-CIA operative in the aftermath of 9/11, was awarded a contract – its first ever – to guard Baghdad airport, and collect old Iraqi currency so it could be destroyed. The firm’s chiefs had no experience in airport security, employed security guards with no prior training, didn’t hire translators who spoke Arabic, and acquired no security dogs to detect explosives.
ALSO ON RT.COMBiden to launch NUCLEAR tech working group alongside UK and Australia in apparent bid to push back against China – reports
Its operatives also went on a shooting spree in the city of Umm Qasr, firing on civilian cars and crowded minibuses, and only stopping when local authorities and a British military unit intervened. Mercifully, no one was injured or killed – no disciplinary actions arose either, as the staffers bribed witnesses to keep quiet.
Custer’s CEO was paying himself $3 million annually, and company staff on-the-ground lived in supreme luxury, their complexes replete with swimming pools, air conditioning and wireless internet – meanwhile, US troops often stayed in tents and abandoned buildings. In 2004, a consultant to the firm came across an internal document that exposed gross overcharges, provision of fake leases and bills, and use of false front companies by Custer. The company was barred from receiving any further US government contracts, and fined a meagre $10,000.
Still, those repercussions are positively seismic when one considers no major US defense contractor has to date ever suffered significant financial or criminal consequences for their work – or lack thereof – during the War on Terror. What’s more, there’s no indication any lessons have been learned in Washington – quite the opposite, in fact. The report notes the sector has “ample tools at its disposal to influence decisions over Pentagon spending going forward.”
Foremost is a vast and extremely well-funded lobbying effort. Defense contractors have provided $285 million in campaign contributions since 2001, with a special focus on presidential candidates, Congressional leadership, and members of the armed services and appropriations committees. Moreover, these firms have spent $2.5 billion on lobbying since 9/11, each employing over 700 lobbyists annually over the past five years on average, more than one for every member of Congress.
Many of these lobbyists, the report states, have passed through a “revolving door” from jobs in Congress, the Pentagon, National Security Council and other agencies key to determining the size and scope of the US military budget. Company chiefs openly brag about their effective purchase of lawmakers – in October 2001, Harry Stonecipher, then-Vice President of Boeing, declared that “any member of Congress who doesn’t vote for the funds we need to defend this country will be looking for a new job after next November.”
ALSO ON RT.COMWATCH: Senator rips top diplomat after he admits he doesn't know if US drone strike killed Afghan aid worker or ISIS-K terrorist
With the War on Terror now seemingly over, “exaggerated estimates of the military challenges posed by China have become the new rationale of choice” for defense contractors, as they seek to bloat the already unbelievably voluminous US defense budget even further.
In 2019, the National Defense Strategy Commission published a scaremongering report, which proposed three to five percent annual growth in the Pentagon budget to address the purported threat of China. Ever since, those figures have become a mantra for hawks in government, think tanks and the media – as the report notes, nine of the 12 members of the Commission had direct or indirect ties to the arms industry.
One can’t help but be reminded of President Eisenhower’s farewell address, in which he offered a prophetic – and clearly unheeded – warning about the ever-growing power of the defense sector.
“We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all US corporations,” he reflected.
“The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government…We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

"US defense contractors have wasted trillions through fraud and corruption"

"trillions" is probably overkill, there are not that many of those and stealing that much would not go unnoticed.

However, if "billions", then I personally would accept it as true.
 
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