Adam Howard is the former Assistant Web Editor of The Nation and currently the News Editor of The Grio.
The perhaps fatal collapse Friday of a Senate compromise on sweeping and liberalized immigration reform was, in itself, not totally unpredictable.
What might astound some, however, is what appears to be the ignominious role in the snafu played by none other than the Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Even though a bi-partisan, majority coalition of 63 Senators had rather miraculously agreed on a compromise measure which would have been a significant step forward in much-needed reform, a final vote was scuttled at the last moment -- most likely killing off reform for the foreseeable future.
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, now an ardent anti-war campaigner, has let loose a blistering broadside against the rest of the peace movement. Calling it near "total collapse," Ritter slams the anti-war movement for being disorganized, chaotic and often "highjacked" by a plethora of progressive causes removed from the war itself.
It's a worthy criticism -- and one not far off the mark. Problem is, Ritter seems prone to make the same mistakes for which he is criticizing others. For him, it's not enough --for example-- that conservative Pennsylvania Democrat Jack Murtha has called for a U.S. troop pullback. Ritter also wants Murtha (and other Democrats who initially supported the war) to now formally recant and retract their earlier positions. That's a great idea in itself. But it shouldn't be the price of admission into the anti-war ranks.
Broadening the anti-war movement by focusing its message seems an imperative for success. Imposing litmus tests, on the other hand, seems self-defeating. I've got the whole story on my personal blog.
Last week, an Iraqi-American translator was arrested and charged with offering over $60,000 in bribes to win a $1 million contract for providing flak jackets and other equipment to Iraqi police officers.
According to the New York Times, it is believed that Faheem Mousa Salam of Livonia, Michigan, was acting on behalf of others and that more arrests will be made. Mr. Salam was employed by the Titan Corporation, a division of the L-3 Government Services Group.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., was quoted as saying that this kind of fraud is limited to "... just a few individuals who took advantage of a chaotic situation early on."
Immigration reform advocates watching the historic Senate debate this past week say they are surprised by the momentum they're sensing in favor of liberalized and comprehensive reform.
There's been some long-awaited help coming this week from George W. Bush on this issue -- one of the only in recent times where the President is actually on the right side of things (if even vaguely so).
The massive immigrant political mobilization of the last week has reminded the GOP of the cresting clout of Latino voters -- and future voters. It's way too early, however, to declare any definitive victory. It's still a long shot that anytime before the mid-term elections the Senate and House will actually agree on a forward-looking bill. But the ball is certainly being moved foreward.
Yesterday, I reported on the current controversy surrounding Halliburton's poor performance and cover-up on its water treatment contract in Iraq. Now add oil to the mix.
In the Washington Post Wednesday, Griff Witte writes of overcharges and obfuscation by Halliburton subsidiary--you guessed it--Kellog Brown and Root on a $1.2 billion contract to restore oil services in southern Iraq.
The competitive contract awarded in 2004 followed a $2.4 billion no-bid deal in 2003. Prior to settling on the newer contract, the Defense Contract Audit Agency requested that the Army Corps of Engineers speak with its auditors about "significant deficiencies in KBR's ability to estimate its costs"--the DCAA had challenged $200 million in fuel delivery charges on the first contract--but the Corps failed to do so.
As we enter Year 4 in Iraq, it's getting tougher to track the extent of waste, fraud and war profiteering perpetrated every day. This is the first in a series of entries on The Notion that will attempt to do just that--by featuring revelations made by the media, whistleblowers, the inspector general, and other activists as they emerge. To read my previous posts on the need for an Independent War Profiteering Commission, click here and here.
Entry 1: Root's Dirty Water
Dick Cheney's favorite Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, is back in the news, and its already infamous reputation is sinking to even lower, Enron-like depths. An internal company memo recently obtained by the Associated Press reveals that it provided American soldiers in Iraq with tainted water from the Euphrates.
As immigrant protests continued to ripple through the country on Monday--22,000 students walking out of classes just in LA County--the Republican-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve sweeping and liberalized comprehensive immigration reform.
With three GOP Senators voting with Democrats, the key Senate panel approved the broad outlines of what's become known as the McCain-Kennedy bill.
The measure still faces a fierce and uphill battle on the Senate floor, with full debate scheduled for Tuesday. And approval of the measure pits the Senate directly against a starkly anti-immigrant House.