Saturday, February 17, 2007

The 2nd Most Expensive War in American History: Eric Margolis

The US government has just estimated that President George Bush’s occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and his so-called war on terror, will cost at least $690 billion by the end of next year. That’s more than the total cost to America of World War I, the Korean War, or Vietnam, and second only to the $2 trillion cost of World War II (in current dollars).

This means that by 2008, Bush’s wars in the Muslim world will have cost each American man, woman, and child $2,300.

Attack on Iran a Six Year Project: Larisa Alexandrovna

Michael Ledeen, Morris Amitay, Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, ex-Republican Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), and Larry Franklin are among the players in this terrifying episode from Vanity Fair.

Washington's $8 Billion Shadow: SAIC (Vanity Fair)

Mega-contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel supply the government with brawn. But the biggest, most powerful of the "body shops"—SAIC, which employs 44,000 people and took in $8 billion last year—sells brainpower, including a lot of the "expertise" behind the Iraq war.

by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele March 2007

The McLean, Virginia, offices of Science Applications International Corporation, a "stealth company" with 9,000 government contracts, many of which involve secret intelligence work. Photograph by Coral von Zumwalt.

One of the great staples of the modern Washington movie is the dark and ruthless corporation whose power extends into every cranny around the globe, whose technological expertise is without peer, whose secrets are unfathomable, whose riches defy calculation, and whose network of allies, in and out of government, is held together by webs of money, ambition, and fear. You've seen this movie a dozen times. Men in black coats step from limousines on wintry days and refer guardedly to unspeakable things. Surveillance cameras and eavesdropping devices are everywhere. Data scrolls across the movie screen in digital fonts. Computer keyboards clack softly. Seemingly honorable people at the summit of power—Cabinet secretaries, war heroes, presidents—turn out to be pathetic pawns of forces greater than anyone can imagine. And at the pinnacle of this dark and ruthless corporation is a relentless and well-tailored titan—omniscient, ironic, merciless—played by someone like Christopher Walken or Jon Voight.

To be sure, there isn't really such a corporation: the Omnivore Group, as it might be called. But if there were such a company—and, mind you, there isn't—it might look a lot like the largest government contractor you've never heard of: a company known simply by the nondescript initials SAIC (for Science Applications International Corporation), initials that are always spoken letter by letter rather than formed into a pronounceable acronym. SAIC maintains its headquarters in San Diego, but its center of gravity is in Washington, D.C. With a workforce of 44,000, it is the size of a full-fledged government agency—in fact, it is larger than the departments of Labor, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development combined. Its anonymous glass-and-steel Washington office—a gleaming corporate box like any other—lies in northern Virginia, not far from the headquarters of the C.I.A., whose byways it knows quite well. (More than half of SAIC's employees have security clearances.) SAIC has been awarded more individual government contracts than any other private company in America. The contracts number not in the dozens or scores or hundreds but in the thousands: SAIC currently holds some 9,000 active federal contracts in all. More than a hundred of them are worth upwards of $10 million apiece. Two of them are worth more than $1 billion. The company's annual revenues, almost all of which come from the federal government, approached $8 billion in the 2006 fiscal year, and they are continuing to climb. SAIC's goal is to reach as much as $12 billion in revenues by 2008. As for the financial yardstick that really gets Wall Street's attention—profitability—SAIC beats the S&P 500 average. Last year ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, posted a return on revenue of 11 percent. For SAIC the figure was 11.9 percent. If "contract backlog" is any measure—that is, contracts negotiated and pending—the future seems assured. The backlog stands at $13.6 billion. That's one and a half times more than the backlog at KBR Inc., a subsidiary of the far better known government contractor once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Halliburton Company.

More to Come?: Laura Rozen for The American Prospect

This writer has reported extensively on a 2001 meeting in Rome between two then-members of the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, Iranian intelligence operatives, and the Italian intelligence service. Reading the DoD IG (Defense Department Inspector General) report on its investigation into the activities of Feith's office, and watching Friday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the report, were, therefore, somewhat surreal experiences. What was surreal was their narrow focus on the question of the Pentagon policy shop's alternative intelligence analysis alleging Iraq-al-Qaeda links, when few dispute that the array of activities engaged in by Feith's shop was broader than that and hardly limited to alternative intelligence analysis.

The Oil Weapon is Unleashed Against Iran: Financial News (Gary Dorsch of Global Money Trends)

Gary Dorsch (Global Money Trends) submits: Crude oil has become a key weapon in the battle between Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE, aligned with the United States, against the mullahs of Iran. The Arab Oil kingdoms fear the emergence of a Tehran-led axis linking Iran, Iraqi Shiites, Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas in Gaza, and Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda trying to topple the Saudi royal family.

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February 12, 2007

Chalmers Johnson: A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States (Harpers)

Chalmers Johnson is the author of the trilogy comprised of Blowback; The Sorrows of Empire; and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. He was a consultant to the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) process for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1968-1972, and has been a tenured professor in East Asian studies and political science for thirty years at the University of California/San Diego. Johnson was a guest on Mark Dankof's America on the Republic Broadcasting Network on Friday, February 9th. The trilogy is must reading.

Chalmers Johnson told Mark Dankof, among other things, that there were only two options for dealing with Mr. Bush's Neo-Conservative War for Empire: Congressional de-funding, and Impeachment.

Tom Englehardt's contains a great deal on Chalmers Johnson including the following piece. Click here.