Yesterday, the Pentagon recommended withholding $161,000,000 in payments to one of their biggest private contractors, Halliburton (aka Kellog, Brown & Root.) (As you probably know by now, Halliburton is not only Dick Cheney’s Retirement Cash Cow, but it’s Donald Rumsfeld’s main ally in the “privatizing” of the military.)
Pentagon auditors said that the $161,000,000 was for overbilling soldier meals. (“Overbilling” is a special Bush administration euphemism for “FRAUD & THEFT” from the American taxpayer.)
(In case you’re wondering why Halliburton, the oil services company, is cooking dinner for G.I. Janes and Joes, a bit of explanation is in order: A few years ago, the Republicans decided that invoicing the Military-Industrial Complex was just too complex, so they decided that rather than have the money go from taxpayer to government to DOD to defense contractors — and eventually into their own pockets — the system would be quicker and more effective if it was rearranged as follows: taxpayer to government to private contractors/top officials in the Bush administration. In the process, they took out a few “middle-men” — as well as a great deal of competitive bidding and congressional oversight. They also decided that “privatizing non-combatant military functions” would be an excellent euphemism for “raping the American taxpayer with no-bid contracts to good ol’ boy networks of friends and family.”)
Hellooooo — Kellog, Brown & Root!
Anyway, these days, when we’ve heard the phrase “BILLIONS of dollars” tossed around the Iraq disaster like it’s chump change, we tend to lose sight of context and the relative value of such gigantic terms. So let’s play a little math game with Halliburton’s FRAUD & THEFT, shall we?
$161,000,000 – that’s one-hundred and sixty-one MILLION dollars that Halliburton fraudulently stole from YOU and Uncle Sam.
Let’s take a ridiculously conservative number — say $10 for the price of one soldier’s meal. That means Halliburton milked the Pentagon for 16,100,000 (ie. SIXTEEN MILLION, one-hundred thousand) Unhappy Meals for soldiers in Iraq.
If we use a more likely number, say $5 per meal, the number obviously becomes 32,200,000 (ie THIRTY-TWO MILLION, two-hundred thousand) meals that were accidentally billed to you and me.
Imagine your customer calling to say, “Excuse me, that last order was for 32 widgets and you billed me for 32 million widgets.”
THE GOOD NEWS: But don’t worry, this was only a $161,000,000 “mistake”. In the overall scheme in the “war in Iraq”, that’s just a drop in the $175 BILLION bucket.
And it just goes to show that not only does this administration make an occasional mistake, but so do their suppliers. Nobody’ perfekt.
And for George W. Bush and his fellow criminals, War means never having to say you’re sorry.