Kleptocracy, Cronyism and War Profiteers – Part Four
In Part Four of “Kleptocracy, Cronyism and War Profiteers: Too Many Hands in the Cookie Jar”, we review the damage of the Bush cronies, estimate how much money it takes to buy your way into cushy jobs, view the destruction of the Iraqi medical system, Sen. Frist’s “Guantanamo Bay HMO” and the fine line between medical ethics and physician assisted torture.
It’s not hard to find scandalous connections in the Bush White House, unfortunately, and they’re quite well documented. At a site called Project for the Old American Century, they have a disturbing scorecard outlining the Bush cronies . It is more than enough to make your stomach turn.
“ The Bush administration wants to eliminate federal funding for Amtrak, and the Amtrak board of directors wants to separate the Northeast Corridor from the rest of the network and open the system up to competition/privatization.” Am I the only one hearing the old murmurings of, “…at least the trains ran on time”? That’s about the only thing Mussolini knew how to do, too!
It seems if you’ve got enough jingle in your jeans, you can also end up paying your way into a government job; if you get caught in a disaster, that once prestigious job downgrades into a resume’ stain – ask Michael Brown. There’s an old proverb: “if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything”. Turns out Bush won’t have to torture data any longer because he has set up nine cronies in the sensitive area of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
- William DeWitt: raised $300,000 and received his 3 rd two-year term.
- Former Commerce secretary Don Evans, a longtime Bush friend who raised $100,000 for Bush.
- Texas oilman Ray Hunt, who also raised $100,000
- Netscape founder Jim Barksdale
- Former congressman and 9/11 Commission vice chairman Lee Hamilton
The list of cronies goes on and on in this Newsweek article, and the obvious question is, what do these men know about foreign intelligence? Look at the career agents who have left the CIA and FBI because of rampant cronyism, and then tell me what these five examples can bring to the table? Soft money and nothing more.
Then there’s the case of James Haveman, political hack brought into Iraq and tasked with rebuilding their post-war medical system. To this day, most Iraqis are still left with a sub-standard medical system often short on the most basic of medical supplies and medicines needed. A large part of aid that isn’t coming from the hard work of Haveman, but from its neighbor, Jordan.
The Government of Jordan launched the Jordanian Initiative to provide emergency humanitarian aid and facilitate its swift delivery into Iraq through Jordan. The government also coordinated with international agencies and NGOs to channel humanitarian aid directly to Iraq or through the Hashemite Charity Organization and the Crisis Management Center.
Is this really surprising to hear yet another political hack is screwing things up? Not when you discover Haveman’s background isn’t in international public health, but social work. It turns out if you look at this picture a little more closely, you will find the Bush Administration removed Frederick "Skip" M. Burkle Jr., a man dripping with experience between three medical specialties and military service, and replaced him with a man who had been on Governor Jeb Bush’s 2000 transition team.
Ok, so we have another inept hack running the Iraqi medical system into the ground, just as he tried to do in Michigan.
“They [physicians] complained that Haveman had cut back or closed programs aimed at the needy. They claimed he had ignored scientific data to follow his own convictions about which policies worked best. And they criticized what they called his confrontational and secretive manner.”
As usual, it’s too easy to see the incompetence, but why? The removal of Burkle should strike a resounding sour note. He was extremely well qualified in the field, well respected by his peers, and yet was ejected from his post. Perhaps it is cynical of me to suspect this, and I’ll warn the reader of my conjecture on this point: if you can’t kill the Iraqis during the war with rounds, phosphorus weapons , conventional bombs, depleted uranium , and cluster munitions, you can definitely wipe them out with a horrific medical system.
I’m not claiming the Iraqi medical system was in great shape before the invasion, but at least the average person could receive some level of medical care on a fee for service basis under Saddam Hussein’s regime. If it was hard to obtain services under the old regime, it became exponentially difficult under the US occupation, according to Mary Paterson, who served in the USAID program under James Haveman.
“During the immediate post-conflict period, the United States had a clear opportunity to establish good relations with willing Iraqi health care providers. We were not able to progress quickly on the practical work needed due to a clear lack of understanding of the purpose, goals, strategies and expected outcomes of the USAID-supported project. Much of my time in Iraq was not focused on work with the Iraqis to improve primary healthcare, but in discussion with Mr. Haveman on why the work needed to be done at all.”
Sen. Bill Frist and James Haveman need to get together; it’s quite evident to the most casual observer they’re exporting the “ Guantanamo Bay Healthcare ” model.
“Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said Tuesday his recent trip to the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp showed excellent prison conditions, including ‘24/7 medical care – better than many Americans’ get.”
Why don’t I feel relieved? Does it really matter if orphaned children are used for AIDS vaccine trials , or the US government used to nuke Quaker Oats and feed it to retarded and abandoned children? It’s not like the CIA was using LSD as a intelligence weapon , operated whorehouses , or used the “magic carpet ride” to discredit anti-war protestors by turning them into drug addicts during the Vietnam conflict. When you think about it, our government would NEVER allow such things to happen – this only happens in bass ackwards low second world and third world countries. Next you’ll be trying to tell me they infected black males from Alabama with syphilis back in the 1930’s and left them untreated. Yeah, right!
Senator Frist may be correct in his statement but you have to view this from an alternate reality to fathom the point. There once was another doctor who was also charged with overseeing the care of those in detention facilities. His name was Dr. Josef Mengele .
How can I possibly dare to compare Senator Frist to Dr. Mengele? First I review the New England Journal of Medicine in regards to the article about enlisted Army medical physicians aiding in torture at Guantanamo Bay (there are also some other worthwhile articles here and here ), then I leave some eyeball prints behind at the American Psychological Association ’s website. Of course the APA statement has been rendered all but useless considering the Senate has backed a resolution that doesn’t condone, condemn or prohibit torture , so their references to Senator McCain’s anti-torture legislation last year or their standing on the Fifth, Eight, or Fifteenth Amendments are utterly useless fluff.
So in short, torture is the rule of law in the land, but is couched under former President Bill Clinton’s famous “don’t ask, don’t tell” style playing rules. Please tell me exactly what is the difference between torture by medical experimentation, and refined torture by medical professionals for perceived intelligence gathering? Both still result in extreme mental and physical duress, both have an entrenched history tied to the horrors of war. Let’s be honest with ourselves: if we were personally subjected to either category, upon release we would scream we had been tortured. Sit down for coffee with Maher Arar, the Canadian who was innocent and tortured for ten months , and ask him if there’s a difference between “medical” versus “intelligence gathering” torture.