Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Looting continues in New Orleans

After the post-invasion looting of Iraqi art treasures, Reichs Minister Donald Rumsfeld's notorious reaction was, "Stuff happens." Well "Stuff" is still happening, but it's happening now on the Gulf Coast of the US. The looting of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has begun in earnest. Via Wired News:
Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.

One is Shaw Group and the other is Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.

Bechtel National, a unit of San Francisco's Bechtel, has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for people displaced by the hurricane. Bush named Bechtel's CEO to his Export Council and put the former CEO of Bechtel Energy in charge of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
Allbaugh (dismissed FEMA Director Michael Brown's college room mate) isn't the only high level ex-Bushite to be in on the action. Kirk Van Tine, recently resigned deputy transportation secretary, is also a Halliburton lobbyist.

Halliburton has already scarfed up $9 billion dollars in Iraq, with Pentagon audits classifying over $1 billion of that as "questioned," and over $400 million as "unsupported." Now with Congress barfing up a quick $60 billion for Katrina recovery, it will be interesting to see if Bush and Cheney's cronies can chew fast enough and swallow hard enough to get it all down.

Last Friday a Halliburton subsidiary, got a $29.8 million contract to rebuild Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi. Cheney got paid almost $200,000 last year by Halliburton in deferred pay. Allbaugh is also lobbyist for the Shaw group, which last Friday got $100 million from the Army Corps of Engineers and the day before got $100 million from FEMA for housing management and construction.

So add the stench of corruption to the stink of the sewage-laden waters of Lake George, the city formerly known as New Orleans. Cheney's newest waterfront property. George's latest act of leadership.