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May 08, 2004

Mercenaries: Told You So Edition

Given the, well, shit I received along with Kos for daring to speak ill of using mercenaries to do our dirty work in Iraq, it's impossible not to feel a bit of grim satisfaction at rightwingers desperately trying to justify torture as some kind of fraternity prank.

But a reminder that I've been obsessed about the problems of privatizing military jobs for a while:

Making Defense Dept a Patronage Machine (February 9, 2004)

As is clear after the WMD debacle, what is needed from the defense department is lower level officials fearful for their jobs that if they contradict their superiors, they will lose their jobs. That is obviously the best way to produce accurate information for the public and for our soldiers fighting overseas.

That at least must be the logic of announced plans by the Bush administration to destroy civil service protections for defense department employees and gut the functioning of unions in the department...

The corruption of the intelligence services that led to the WMD lies is just a first taste of what will happen to all public services and information if the Bush administration is able to destroy civil service protections throughout the defense department.

So Much for the Wonders of Privatization (August 5, 2003)
For almost a decade, the military has been shifting support jobs over to the private sector. And the result in Iraq has been a disaster for the troops. Not surprisingly, when the going gets tough, the civilian business folks take a hike.

And apparently, the chaos of cost-plus contracts with overlapping deals is a big reason the White House has no idea how much the Iraq Occupation is costing American taxpayers.

Privatization of the Military (April 14, 2003)
But just to really scare you, it's worth remembering who is in charge of privatization at the US Army-- none other than former Enron official Thomas White. White has already proposed contracting out 214,000 jobs currently on the government payroll. Just last December, 68 members of the House of Representatives blasted the plan in a letter to White.

Aside from the attack on labor involved in these initiatives, the inherent corruption of massive campaign contributors vying for multi-billion dollar contracts is already obvious in Iraq.

Flexibility Equals Patronage at DOD (June 5, 2003)
The Defense Department wants to "reshape" the DoD personnel system, meaning giving greater flexibility to hire, fire, promote and give bonuses. The result would largely be the end of the civil service system and the creation of one where party loyalty would be the key to career advancement...

Imagine if every division of the Defense Department acted like the hacks who pumped up the false information of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq.

That is the fate of the whole defense department if these proposals go through.

The Enronization of the Army (October 16, 2002)
Former Enron official and now-Army Secretary Thomas White is seeking to turn the army into a candy store for private contractors, replacing hundreds of thousands of employees with more "efficient"-- read low-wage -- privately contracted company jobs.

We should be very afraid at a program run by a former Enron official described as "part of White’s transformation effort, which is intended to make the Army more efficient by adopting the business practices of corporations."

The unfortunate fact is that this is probably accurate-- a bunch of subsidiary businesses will get rich and the main "company", the military, will pay inflated prices in the corporate shell game established.

I obviously understated the dangers of privatization, since I thought lies and inflated costs would be the main danger, but torture is just one more inflated cost on our reputation that the American people will have to pay due to collapse of basic standards of conduct driven by the Bush defense department patronage machine.

Posted by Nathan at May 8, 2004 09:16 AM