Dick Cheney, Halliburton and War Profiteering
This week a newly unearthed Army e-mail came to light, which states that Cheney’s office “coordinated” action on a contract to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure that was awarded to Halliburton. If true, this would be evidence of a conflict of interest between Vice President Cheney and Halliburton, the company he used to work for and still receives compensation from. A group of Democratic Congressmen are calling for an investigation into these charges.
Halliburton has won over $8 billion in contracts in Iraq in 2003 alone and many of their Iraq projects have been dogged by scandal ? including now a criminal investigation into overcharging by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root for gas shipped into Iraq.
Abu Ghraib Abuse Scandal
The Abu Ghraib abuse scandal justifiably continues to get coverage in the mainstream press. Unfortunately, the corporate press have primarily focused on the individual soldiers involved and have generally framed the story as a case of a few bad apples that got out of hand. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the abuses that took place were not an aberration nor unsanctioned by higher military authorities. According to an article by Alfred W. McCoy the torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib were CIA torture techniques that have been developed over the past 50 years. Democracy Now reported this week that three of the people sent to Iraq to run the Abu Graib prison had records of running abusive prisons here in the United States. In an interesting essay at Z-net, Carolyn Wakeman looks at the role of women and gender in the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.
New Iraqi Government
As June 30 nears, a new Iraqi government took office on Tuesday, although it will have little power . Speaking on the negotiation process, Lakhdar Brahimi, who was sent by the United Nations to work on assembling the new government called Paul Bremer the ?dictator of Iraq? and said that Bremer had tremendous influence on the process. While the new Iraqi president was not the United States ?first choice,? the new Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, is an ex-baathist with ties to the CIA. Not surprisingly, most Iraqis are unhappy with the new government.
The Independent UK has published The Lying Game: An A-Z of the Iraq war and its aftermath, focusing on misrepresentation, manipulation, and mistakes and while it is not as thorough as Iraq on the Record it contains a good reminder of the lies used to justify the war.
Labor Organizing and Civil Society in Iraq
One of the more overlooked areas in coverage of occupied Iraq is the development of labor unions and civil society. Next Friday Iraqi labor representatives at the United Nations annual meeting of the International Labor Organization will file formal complaints against the labor policies of the provisional authorities. Recent interviews with members of the Organization of Women?s Freedom in Iraq and the Worker Communist Party of Iraq as well as with the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq provide detailed looks at organizing efforts in Iraq.
US Labor Against the War has a section on their site outlining ways to help labor organizing in Iraq including a 16-page study on working conditions and labor rights.
Here in Grand Rapids, Dick Cheney attended the Michigan Police Officers Association convention where he accepted their endorsement of the Bush-Cheney campaign. There was a small protest outside the Amway Grand Plaza where he spoke. Media Mouse has compiled a number of resources on Dick Cheney and used them as the basis for a leaflet distributed downtown Friday.
Across the country this week activists protested CACI International, a company which had 27 employees working as interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and is currently the subject of five investigations examining its conduct. Activists in San Francisco used street theatre to educate about CACI while in DC activists held a traditional protest and used banner drops to get their message out.
In Italy, President Bush was greeted by large-scale street protests. While Bush was there to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Allied liberation of Rome during World War II, many Italians pointed out that the United States has lost any credibility as liberators. Of course, the corporate media accounts are full of distortions so indymedia.org has the best coverage.
In somewhat bizarre news, antiwar protestors in Long Beach, California are being sued by the city for security costs related to two antiwar protests back in March of 2003. One of the groups is fighting the payments while another has already paid $1,700 to the city to cover police costs. According to the lawsuits, two groups and five individuals agreed to pay the city for costs related to the rally.