January 21, 2005
The Defense Policy Board (DPB) is a hand-picked group of 30 people that advises Bush administration officials on matters such as whether and when to go to war, or not. The current group was selected by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, and approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Everyone who is anyone in the arms and defense industry knows that palling up to DPB members is the ticket to getting a Pentagon contract.
Shortly after the war in Iraq began, the April 10, 2003 New York Times pointed out that several board members stood to benefit financially from the war. It reported that the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) documented that 9 of the members were "linked to companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002."
Promote War & Garner Positions For Profits
One of the members mentioned who stood to profit was R. James Woolsey. In addition to being a member of the DPB, Woolsey also sits on Navy and CIA advisory boards; and he is also a founding member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), a private group that was specifically set up by Bush in 2002, to find ways to increase public support for a war against Iraq.
Let me say right here and now that I think bold lines are crossed when people like Woolsey, who promote a specific war, financially benefit from their successful promotion. There should be a law that requires a standard recusal from all war profits by any policy advisor who advocates sending our young men and women off to die in that same war.
And I don't know about anybody else, but I've never heard of our government forming a group of promoters to rally support for a war before. I dare anyone to try and convince me that this war profiteering scheme wasn't well planned and managed from the get-go.
Mom & Pop Team Of War Profiteers
I would rate the husband and wife team of James and Suzanne Woolsey up there as one of the most blatant examples of war profiting that I‘ve ever seen. They both remain policy advisors on Iraq, even though they both work for private firms that do business there. James has long wanted to use US military might to transform the Middle East. "And he has pushed for war with Iraq as hard as anyone, even before the terrorist attacks of Sep 11, 2001," according to the April 8, 2003 Global Policy Forum.
That's right - long before 9/11. In January 1998, James signed the now infamous letter to Clinton from the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) calling for regime change in Iraq (which Clinton trashed). In 1998, he also successfully lobbied to pass the Iraq Liberation Act (ILA), which allocated nearly $100 million for the Iraqi opposition, mainly the Iraq National Congress (INC), headed by none other than Ahmed Chalabi.
9/11 - Gift To Profiteering Team
The lobby for the war in Iraq immediately moved into high gear after 9/11. Within days, the DPB convened to discuss how they could use 9/11 to justify a war in Iraq. James was sent overseas to try to find a link between Saddam and bin Laden. He returned with the tale that an unnamed source had told the Czech intelligence that in April, 2001, he had observed a meeting between the lead 9/11 skyjacker and an Iraqi agent in Prague.
Even though the tale was deemed not credible by US, British, Israeli, and French, intelligence agencies, it became the basis of a major neo-con disinformation campaign against Saddam on cable news shows and editorial pages in major US newspapers.
James himself wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that said a foreign state had aided Al Qaeda in preparing the 9/11 attacks and pointed to Iraq as the prime suspect. In fact, James even went so far to allege that Saddam was behind the 1993 WTC bombing and the anthrax letters sent out after 9/11. In large part, the propaganda campaign was successful. A poll conducted in late 2002, showed that over half of those polled believed that Saddam was somehow linked to 9/11.
Woolsey & Chalabi - Secret Long-Time Buddies
Just when I think I have seen every dirty filthy angle by which money can be made in the war profiteering trade, something else turns up. I recently discovered a little tid-bit that I was unaware of. In addition to getting $100 million tax dollars allocated for the INC and Ahmed Chalabi in 1998, James also became lawyer and adviser to Iraq's "President in Waiting" in the same year.
With the help of the media, James must have forgot to mention this obvious conflict of interest while he was alleging collusion in 9/11 between Chalabi's enemy Saddam and bin Laden. This relationship definitely should have been made public before the war began because of its relevance to the truth or falsity of the justification given for waging war in Iraq to begin with.
Back in 1998, Chalabi sought legal help from Woolsey to secure the release of 6 of his INC associates from the detention center in Guam, even though the CIA said they were threats to US interests. James successfully freed Chalabi's minions and mowed a path for the so-called Iraqi defectors to feed bogus information to US intelligence teams.
The false information about WMDs and collusion between Saddam and bin Laden, that originated from the relationship of Chalabi and Woolsey, along with the resulting diversion of financial and military resources to Iraq, and away from the real terrorist bin Laden, has left the US with a limited ability to project military power anywhere else in the world. Any unexpected conflict would be a disaster with the military so overstretched in Iraq, and it looks like in large part, we can thank Woolsey and Chalabi for this predicament.
And as it turns out the CIA was right. One of men Woolsey freed, Aras Habib Karim, went on to become Chalabi's Chief of Intelligence, and has since leaked classified information to Iran, and is currently under investigation by the FBI. I wonder if James is representing the guy now?
James & Booz Allen Hamilton
At the same time that they were advocating for war in Iraq, its more than obvious that James and Suzanne Woolsey were positioning themselves for a future in defense-related firms, with an eye on the anticipated war profits.
James is a shining example of how the revolving door policy works in Washington. Although he left his position as director of the CIA in 1995, he remained a senior advisor on intelligence and national security policies.
And he also now works for several private firms that do business in Iraq. According to Citizens for Public Integrity, in July, 2002, James joined Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that "had contracts worth more than $680 million" that year.
In May, 2003, in his capacity as a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, James was a featured speaker at a seminar entitled "Companies on the Ground: The Challenge for Business in Rebuilding Iraq." He spoke of the potential business opportunities in the reconstruction of Iraq and how Bush planned to steer the contracts to US companies. Approximately 80 corporate executives paid $1100 to listen to what he had to say.
May, 2003 was only 2 months after the war began. If not for his advisory positions in the Bush administration, how would James possibly be able to put together a investor seminar with information on how to make money in Iraq?
In addition, "Booz Allen is a subcontractor for a $75-million telecommunications project in Iraq. The company does extensive work for the Defense Department as well. Recently, the Navy awarded it $14 million in contracts," according to the Aug 15, 2004 LA Times.
In true Dick Cheney style, James said in an interview that "he had not been involved in Booz Allen's Iraq contracts," the Times reports. But then it really doesn't matter whether he was involved in a particular contract or not, because as a Vice President of the firm, he benefits from profits resulting from all contracts.
Besides his recent statement to the Times belies the title of his own May, 2003 seminar which was: "Companies on the Ground: The Challenge for Business in Rebuilding Iraq." What is he trying to say? That he never got paid for speaking at that seminar? That none of the 80 executives that attended ever contacted Booz work in Iraq? Yea right.
James & Paladin Capital Group
James positioned himself all over the map. He is now a principal in the Paladin Capital Group, another defense-related firm. In part, here is how the firm describes itself on its web site, Paladin Homeland Security Fund, L.P. Investment Strategy
As widely reported in public media, billions of dollars are being appropriated by the United States and foreign governments for replenishment of military stockpiles, deployment of new means to create more secure societies and creation of new standards, equipment, technologies and policies for coping with and recovering from the myriad forms of terrorism and attack. ... the General Partner believes that the Federal and State governments ... and indeed governments throughout the world, will look to ... private enterprise to address these issues. The General Partner believes that the private sector thus will look to expend billions of dollars to execute defense and security plans for security in the public sector and to deploy growth equity to produce the products and services that non-governmental organizations will require.
Operation of the Fund starts with an experienced management team. ... additional individuals who have prominent and distinguished records in relevant fields, including security, defense and information and technology sciences, have associated with Paladin Capital in connection with the Fund. These additional principals of the Fund include R. James Woolsey, ...
The Fund's Principals have extensive domestic and international experience in fund investments and in originating, underwriting, closing, monitoring and exiting investments similar to those that are proposed for the Fund. The additional Principals, including Mr. Woolsey, ... have extensive and distinguished track records in service within the security, defense and related fields.
Investment Guidelines Characteristics
Small to medium-sized, worker-friendly companies with the following characteristics: Must relate to defense, prevention, coping or recovery from disaster. Dual use: commercial and government applicability for products and services.
Surely no one could ever allege a possible conflict of interest between James serving on 3 defense-related boards (Navy, DPB, & CIA) with the US government and his involvement with this firm.
Global Options - James & DPB Member Livingstone
James is also plugged into Global Options, which is headed by his fellow DPB member Neil Livingstone. In addition to sitting on the DPB, Livingstone has served as a Pentagon and State Department advisor and has long called for overthrowing Saddam.
Livingstone was already promoting war against Iraq back in 1993, when he wrote an editorial for Newsday that said the US "should launch a massive covert program designed to remove Hussein." Well 11 years later, it looks like he finally got his wish, and just like his pal James, Livingstone is a regular speaker at investment seminars on Iraq.
Global Options provides contacts and consulting services to firms doing business in Iraq and "offers a wide range of security and risk management services," according to its website. Although James admits that he is a paid advisor at Global Options, he again says the work he does at the firm does not involve Iraq. And of course I believe him (not).
Suzanne - Better Half Of Profiteering Team
From 1993 - 2003, Suzanne was an executive with the National Academies, an institution that advises the government on science, engineering, and medicine. There's probably no big money to be made in that position and that's probably what motivated Suzanne seek a more potentially profitable government position.
And she sure found one. According to the Aug 15, 2004 LA Times, Suzanne is a trustee of a little-known arms consulting group that had access to senior Pentagon leaders directing the Iraq war.
Although she had zero experience with military or national security matters, in 2000 she became a trustee at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a nonprofit corporation paid to do research for the Pentagon. During the attack against Iraq, the IDA provided senior Pentagon officials with assessments of the operation.
Through this position, Suzanne had unlimited insider access to valuable information. For instance, the Times reported that in a June 3, 2003, briefing, Brigadier General Robert Cone of the Army, described the group's operation. "This team did business" within the Army Central Command "on a daily basis, by observing meeting and planning sessions, attending command updates, watching key decisions being made, watching problems being solved, and generally being provided unrestricted access to the business of the conduct of this war," Cone said, according to a transcript of the session.
The question is did Suzanne use the info to benefit the family business? I'll let the reader be the judge. She was appointed to "Fluor's board in January 2004, while Fluor and a partner, AMEC, were competing for two federal contracts to do reconstruction work in Iraq. A little more than a month after she was named, Fluor and AMEC got both contracts, with a combined value of $1.6 billion," according to the LA Times.
Although a Fluor official refused to discuss why Suzanne was chosen for the job, the official confirmed SEC filings that show, "Fluor pays outside directors (like Suzanne) $40,000 a year, plus stock options and additional fees for attending meetings," the Times reports.
As for the financial worth of her stock in the company, its looking good. Fluor's stock has risen steadily since the war in Iraq began. The Times reports that in August, 2004, it was $45 a share, up from a little more than $30 a share in March 2003. Reports filed with the SEC show Suzanne owns 1,500 shares of Fluor stock.
With Fluor making a bundle, it only stands to reason that all the more money can be funneled back into the Woolsey piggy bank. SEC filings show that Fluor reported that its revenue for the first quarter of the current fiscal year from work in Iraq totaled "approximately $190 million. There was no work in Iraq in the comparable period in 2003," reports the Times.
I would be willing to bet that any defense related firm would have given an arm and a leg to find out what was being said during those IDA meetings and war planning sessions. Oh of course I'm not suggesting that Suzanne was feeding Fluor information before she came on board and that's why she was hired. But at the same time, its sure difficult to think of any other reason why she would be hired.
Here's another profiteering trick that I would never have thought of. Suzanne even managed to get paid while she gathered the insider information. Tax records show that in 2003, she was paid $11,500 for serving on the IDA. Who wouldn't want this gal on their team?
The overlapping public and private associations of the Woolsey's are merely 2 examples of the all too familiar pattern in the Bush administration, in which people who play key roles in advising officials on policies, are involving themselves financially with firms in related fields. And it should be noted that the profiteering is certainly not limited to war policies. Its rampant in every area of policy within the Bush administration.
Long-Term War - Thriving Family Business
Hands down, James should be awarded a plaque for being the #1 Iraq War Monger, and it should say: "What could be more sickening than a war-hungry non-combatant? A war-hungry non-combatant reaping profit from the blood of slaughtered women, children and men of Iraq," (Bill Berkowitz).
War-hungry James is still hard at it; promoting war for as far as the eye can see. On August 15, 2004, the LA Times reported that, "Last month, Woolsey appeared at a ... news conference to announce the creation of a group called the Committee of the Present Danger, which he said would attempt to focus public attention on the threat to the US and the civilized world from Islamic terrorism."
On September 29, 2004 he participated in a forum entitled: "World War IV: Why We Fight, Whom We Fight, How We Fight," sponsored by the Committee on Present Danger and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
I wonder how many people who went to the polls on Nov 2, 2004, realized that a vote for Bush meant rubber-stamping more of World War IV?
Plan To Destroy and Conquer Iraq
The Iraqi citizens had no say-so in the Bush administration's decision to bomb the hell out of their country and the Iraqi people, now suffering the most as a result of the war, are not allowed to be involved in making decisions about the reconstruction of Iraq.
In comments that could have been made yesterday, Naomi Klein described what would happen to the Iraqis under Bush's war plan in the April 14, 2003 issue of the Guardian, "A people, starved and sickened by sanctions, then pulverized by war, is going to emerge from this trauma to find that their country had been sold out from under them. They will also discover that their new-found "freedom" - for which so many of their loved ones perished - comes pre-shackled by irreversible economic decisions that were made in boardrooms while the bombs were still falling. They will then be told to vote for their new leaders, and welcomed to the wonderful world of democracy. "
Every one of her predictions has come true and Iraqis may be worse off than we realize. Klein reports that on October 13, 2004, Iraq's "health ministry issued a harrowing report on its post-invasion health crisis, including outbreaks of typhoid and tuberculosis and soaring child and mother mortality rates," while at the same time the "State Department announced that $3.5 billion for water, sanitation and electricity projects was being shifted to security."
How can anybody in their right mind expect the Iraqi people to be grateful to America for all this good fortune?
Stop The War Profiteering
It seems to me that we've taken our eye off the ball here. Granted, the web of corruption is bad enough in itself, but too little consideration is being given to the Iraqi lives at stake. Every profiteering dollar bilked or wasted is a dollar that could be spent on improving Iraq's basic living conditions like getting water, sanitation and electricity up and running again, or training Iraqi police and military forces, or developing jobs for Iraqis.
Instead our tax dollars are being funneled back to profiteers like the Woolseys, over the backs of not only our dead soldiers; but over 100,000 dead Iraqis as well. The administration had the chance to rebuild Iraq, and at the same time earn the trust of the Iraqi people, but instead it chose to rape and torture innocent Iraqi prisoners, raid the reconstruction fund, and deprive the Iraqis of everything essential to normal human life.
The blatant acts of corruption by the occupational authority and US contractors have given the Iraqis every reason under the sun to mistrust the motives of Americans who say they want to help rebuild their country. And how can we expect their opinions to change as long as the obvious corruption continues?
If we ever expect to regain the trust of Iraqis, we have to stop the Woolseys, and others like them, who engage in this filthy, disgusting trade. For starters, I say all Bush war profiteers should be given 2 options: they can either recuse themselves from advising government officials on any matter of national security period, or they can donate all profits made through affiliations with defense-related companies to soldiers wounded in the war and families of soldiers killed in the war.
While this would definitely be a good first step, I won't hold my breath while waiting to see which option the greedy war-mongers choose.