Thursday, November 22, 2007

Outsourced thuggery

It's bad enough that Blackwater USA headquartered in North Carolina is a source of home-brewed thuggery that's unleashed death and mayhem on civilians in Iraq. But the latest mercenary force in which its convoy was "driving on the wrong side of the street, shooting randomly at civilians and injuring one" isn't even an American-based defense contractor.

The Baltimore Sun reported:

The employer of the workers detained in yesterday's shooting, Almco Group, is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and has contracts with the U.S. Defense Department to provide some bases with essentials such as food, water and tents, the U.S. military said. It also has a contract to build a courthouse as part of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
Since the U.S. has no extradition treaty with the UAE, defense contractors headquartered in Dubai cannot be held accountable in the U.S. for criminal activity. Bribe a U.S. congress-critter or perpetrate a fraud? No worries.

Earlier this year, Cheney's former employer, Halliburton, announced the company would relocate its headquarters to Dubai where it can continue to rake in billions of U.S. defense dollars, pay no taxes, and avoid accountability for alleged abuses. Isn't that convenient? The Bush-Cheney Administration doled out no-bid contracts to these scalawags at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

[Keep reading...]

Halliburton Watch quoted Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies who explained...
...most Fortune 500 companies have global operations, so that moving an entire headquarters to another country is not necessary. "With today's technologies, there's no real reason to have to physically relocate," she said. "Those that have are trying to evade U.S. oversight and tax authorities."...
... Halliburton earned a record $2.3 billion in profit last year. That's almost equal to the $2.7 billion the Pentagon found in the company's overcharges in Iraq....
... Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, "This is an insult to the US soldiers and taxpayers who paid the tab for their no-bid contracts and endured their overcharges for all these years."
Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, promised hearings stating, "I want to understand the ramifications for U.S. taxpayers and national security."

In light of the Almco Group episode in Iraq, I urge congressional Democrats to expand their oversight deliberations into reviewing all the defense contractors and mercenaries operating in Iraq and Afghanistan to include the ones that hail from Dubai. Maybe Waxman has UAE-based contractors on his radar and I missed it.

However, seems to me, that all U.S. defense contracts should be limited to American-based companies unless there exists an overwhelmingly convincing justification to do otherwise. What would that be? I can't think of one good reason.