You know how that saying goes? Well, I promised [myself] I wouldn’t touch on the [more than questionable] origins of my brother’s father in law’s newly-amassed fortune. Consider that promise thoroughly broken. Click here if you have trouble downloading…
I know, I know, you may be thinking, “But, gee, why diss on your host when he was so hospitable to you?” Well, it’s easy to be hospitable when the money you’ve spent isn’t really yours (all’s fair in love and war?). Everyone involved — key players in the US government, Halliburton and KBR, AlTanmia, and the Kuwaiti government has been scrambling to cover their asses. It’s likely impossible in this case to completely tease apart the bungling ineptitude and the calculated war-profiteering, so let’s just concede that they are two sides of the same coin. Someone could write a book about this one affair…in the mean time, here’s the condensed version:
KBR moves into Iraq during the US invasion, and is unprepared to do its job, including being underfunded, vastly understaffed, and not even knowing who it should contact to start the Request for Proposals [RFP; competitive bidding] process for services it needs to start providing — in this case, fuel delivery. Altanmia appears out of nowhere [literally…it was formed specifically to profit off the Iraq war]. By adding to and leveraging this confusion and mutually-lucrative ties to power-players the Kuwaiti government, AlTanmia asserts itself through the Kuwaiti government to KBR as “the only option” (in Kuwait). KBR then says to the US government, “AlTanmia is our only option” (anywhere). Officials in the US Government — under pressure to gather Kuwaiti support for the war, deliver scarce or waning supplies into Iraq, or with financial ties to Halliburton — echo this statement, leading the US to “specifically request AlTanmia” to do the job, effectively circumventing the RFP process. Never mind that other companies were — and are still — available to do the same job for a fraction of the cost. The US okays a lucrative (for AlTanmia and KBR) no-bid contract high above Fair Market Value. Then, the state-owned Kuwait oil company Petroleum Corps sends out a fax stating it can deliver the goods at a fraction of the cost as AlTanmia without the need to contract outside of Kuwait (read: without AlTanmia as unnecessary middleman). Everyone else conveniently denies receiving the fax. Other companies (including “in-house” US-operated agencies) are discovered as having been available to offer the same services at much better prices. AlTanmia refuses to open its books to justify its high prices. When the investigations start, all involved parties start the blame game in a sensitive and precise execution of “deflect suspicion away from yourself and point it toward the others, but not so much that it ruins the symbiosis [parasitism] that’s been so profitable up to this point.”
In closing, AlTanmia (let’s not even touch KBR and Halliburton) owes US taxpayers millions of dollars. Those millions of dollars, once the contribution of millions of Americans to their government, are now in the grubby hands of a few Kuwaiti and American war profiteers. And that, folks, is one way to profit off a war! Or occupation, or whatever you want to call it…
In conversation one night at one of the dinner parties, a KBR representative named “Chris” insisted that he personally has “tried” to keep his hands clean (apparently it’s a pretty difficult thing to do), but that a lot of his coworkers were going to get nailed for soliciting bribes and demanding kickbacks…amongst other things. To tie this back to US politics, the surprising number of support for McCain amongst power players over here makes perfect sense for a couple of reasons: For historical reasons, a lot of Kuwaitis (at least the upper crust) don’t seem to like Iraqis or Iraq. Also, several people can’t continue to profit off of destroyed lives if Obama ends the occupation before every last drop of blood has been bled from the wounds of the many and transformed (like magic!) into economic wealth for the greedy few.
and now for something completely different
In complete contrast, I am constantly and consistently humbled by my new sister-in-law’s unflinching benevolence, honor, selflessness, dignity, honesty, and sense of respect for herself, others and the world around her. In other words, she stands in firm contrast to everything I describe above. And I couldn’t be happier for her, my brother, and the love between them. Also, I have nothing personal against her family — they’re actually pretty nice people in person. But whoever believes that their wealth is legit is living in an elaborate fantasy world.
UPDATE: More blog-archived articles corpwatch_altanmia and nytimes_halliburton if the links above go bad. Also, try doing a Google search for “Waxman altanmia” or “KBR altanmia” and the like, and you’ll come up with results like this.