Daily Archives: July 30, 2004

BushScience: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

After taking a beating over politicizing science for ideological reasons and to make things easier for corporate polluters and despoilers of the environment, the Bushies have come up with a whole new tactic: The EPA simply isn’t going to ask what the science might be if they don’t think they’ll like the answer.

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration made it easier Thursday for the government to approve pesticides used by farmers and homeowners, saying it no longer would require the Environmental Protection Agency to first consult other federal agencies to determine whether a product could harm endangered species.The change, supported by growers and pesticide manufacturers, affects federal regulations for carrying out the Endangered Species Act, a law that protects about 1,200 threatened animals and plants.

Environmentalists said the streamlined process would strip away protections for those species.

The law has been successfully used by environmental groups in a recent lawsuit seeking to mitigate the effects of pesticides on salmon in the Pacific Northwest. A federal judge found that the EPA had failed to abide by a requirement that it consult with federal wildlife agencies over the potential harm from pesticides.

Under the new process, expected to take effect in a few months, the EPA will conduct its own scientific evaluation. The agency will be required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies only if its internal evaluation deems that a pesticide is likely to have an adverse effect on endangered species. (emphasis added)

OK, so the EPA, which is implementing the change at the behest of the industry, is going to do its own ‘internal evaluation’, minus the science involved, which they will ‘evaluate’ based on…what? Industry claims?

‘So, Bob, what does Monsanto think? I mean, they developed this pesticide. Is it safe to use around animals?’

‘Of course it is, Bill. We tested it and it’s safe as houses. Sign here.’

‘Well, can I see the test results?’

“No can do, Bill. Proprietary rights, exclusionary, you understand. Just sign the damn waiver, I’m late for my 9am tee-off at the club.’

‘Maybe I should ask Fish & Game–‘

‘What are you, a Commie? Why do you hate American business, Bill? We’re trying to make a buck here, what’s so wrong about that that you think you have to check every little piddling detail? Anyway, what’s a few dead birds here or there, there’s millions of the damn things. Wake me up every morning at the crack of dawn, the little bastards. We’ll be better off without ’em. Now sign or tell Junior he can forget the $200K for his next campaign.’

‘Oh, well, when you put it that way….’

Yessiree. ‘BushCo: We’re a Friend of Science–When Science is a Friend to Us. If It Ain’t, Screw It.’

27 Candles in the Dark

The looting in Iraq may have started with Iraqis, but they got peanuts compared to what was stolen when the US corporations came to town. According to the LAT, besides on-going investigations into Halliburton, KB&R, and several other sub-contractors, the CPA Inspector General’s Office has launched 27 criminal investigations of individuals accused of fraud and theft.

WASHINGTON — A comprehensive examination of the U.S.-led agency that oversaw the rebuilding of Iraq has triggered at least 27 criminal investigations and produced evidence of millions of dollars’ worth of fraud, waste and abuse, according to a report by the Coalition Provisional Authority’s inspector general.The report is the most sweeping indication yet that some U.S. officials and private contractors repeatedly violated the law in the free-wheeling atmosphere that pervaded the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild the war-torn country.

More than $600 million in cash from Iraqi oil money was spent with insufficient controls. Senior U.S. officials manipulated or misspent contract money. Millions of dollars’ worth of equipment could not be located, the report said.

“We found problems in the CPA’s financial management, procurement practices and operational controls,” Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the inspector general, wrote in the report. “These results are not surprising: The CPA faced a variety of daunting challenges, including extremely hazardous working conditions.”

The report raises anew questions surrounding the occupation government under Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, who turned over control in June to an interim Iraqi government.

The coalition’s failures continue to haunt the country today as Iraqis struggle with security issues and infrastructure problems with electricity, transport

Not surprising, really, considering that the attitude of those at the top of the US govt is pretty much the same: Taxpayer money belongs to us and we can do what we want with it, including steal it. The charges, for anyone familiar with the corporate mind, aren’t exactly a surprise, either.

The Times has reported on several cases in which a small circle of former Republican administration officials had drawn scrutiny for their actions in Iraq, including a deputy undersecretary of Defense under investigation by the FBI in connection with a telecommunications contract. In another case, officials have said, a former senior U.S. advisor conducted negotiations with a family connected to Saddam Hussein to form a new Iraqi airline.

In one case, a senior U.S. advisor “manipulated” the contracting system to award a $7.2-million security contract. The contract was later voided and the money returned.In another incident, a contractor billed $3.3 million for nonexistent personnel working on an oil pipeline repair contract. A security contractor guarding the pipeline overcharged the CPA by $20,000. Both incidents are under criminal investigation.

In another example, a military assistant to a Pentagon employee gambled away part of a $40,000 grant issued to help coach an Iraqi sports team, the report found.

What is a tad surprising is the number of excuses coming, not from the perps, but from the IGO.

Iraq was “a much more Wild West environment. It’s a wartime environment,” said Steven Kelman, a Harvard professor and contracting expert. “I wouldn’t be surprised if, psychologically, some folks have the idea that they’re risking their lives under difficult conditions. They justify that they’re entitled to a salary increase.”

“In the early days, there was no record keeping. They were flushed with money and seized assets. People just didn’t follow established procedures,” said Charles Krohn, a former CPA official. “You were dealing with inexperienced people who didn’t understand that there’s always a day of reckoning.”

So ‘Boys will be boys, heh-heh’, is that it? There weren’t enough flak jackets or boots to go around for the troops, but hey, I’m a corporate snowbunny in a war zone, I got serious perks coming! And these are people inside the CPA, not war profiteers like the Halliburton crowd; you’d expect this sort of thing from them. The message these guys got from their leaders was: ‘Take whatever you can get your hands on. We are.’

And for those who will say, as they always do, ‘Well, it was only a few bad apples….’, I say:

Uh, $$$20BILLION$$$ missing and 27 separate investigations of criminal misconduct in a single govt entity means a significant chunk of the barrel was rotten, don’t it?