Monday, September 03, 2007

Uncommon thievery

Matt Taibbi has written an important piece in Rolling Stone about the rampant fraud by contractors in Iraq. You should read it, even if it means going to it right away and leaving this blog. He makes the case, quite eloquently, that stealing from the taxpayers is not an aberration in the Iraq War, but an essential aspect of that deadly enterprise.

It’s not that the point hasn’t been made before. Robert Greenwald made a very good film about it called Iraq for Sale. There have been excellent reports on this and many other shameful aspects of the debacle from the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, Mother Jones, The Nation, and other places in print and on the web. Here, however, we have a rock music publication aimed primarily at younger people—far more ephemeral in content than in its 1970s heyday—that has saw fit to print good, hard-hitting journalism from time to time. And that’s what Taibbi’s piece is: actual journalism with a point of view, not the empty “objective” version of reality we get from the corporate news outlets. The piece is curiously uncredited in its online version, but I’m guessing that’s a mere oversight. Rolling Stone has put Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News to shame as the rags they are. We need more pieces like this, in more widely read popular magazines.

Among other essential points, the author makes what I consider a crucial connection between the unbelievable level of swindling and the very nature of this war and occupation. In World War II, the country was fighting for its survival. If a contractor had delivered equipment that didn’t work, it would not have been tolerated. But in the case of Iraq, the administration has consistently blocked attempts to make the contractors accountable for their crimes, arguing that the swindlers are exempt from prosecution because they work for the government.

Besides the devastating truth that the administration is deliberately countenancing theft from the public treasury, this fact also makes clear that the basic claims of national security on which the war is justified are a fabrication. If this conflict is the great challenge of the century, part of the great struggle against terrorism, Islamo-fascism, or whatever they’re calling it now—if this war, in other words, is a struggle of true importance for our national security, our freedom, our safety, the future of democracy, etc., as we are continually told by its supporters—would fraud on such a scale be allowed? Here's Taibbi's answer: “Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget.”

The Bush administration is a danger to the security of the United States. Nothing could be clearer. Every day this regime stays in power constitutes a threat to our safety—yours, mine, our families, our communities, our country. Even if you discount the subversion of our Constitution and our tradition of liberty, even if you ignore the shameful policies of secret prisons, torture, and lawless detention—just on the basis of national security alone, the impeachment of George Bush and Richard Cheney must be initiated, if only to slow down the destructive machine that threatens our very lives.


fairlane said...

That is an excellent, if not disturbing article.

The disappointing thing is people don't seem to care much anymore, as though these things are simply "a part of the government doing business."

People would rather get mad about "Welfare Moms," or waste in Education.

This war has screwed America in every conceivable way, and sometimes I can't help but think maybe we deserve it for being so damn lazy.

pygalgia said...

You have written a post that I would have tried to write. Great job.