Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 30]

Comments are flying about “Bush Lied” charges being left-wing paranoia. I guess it depends on what a lie is. Let’s see, you’ve got your flat-out-lie, your bald face lie, your genteel falsehood. And then there’s the Texas whopper, the all purpose bunk and we mustn’t forget that political standby, artful misrepresentation. Sissela Bok in Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life writes about lies as excuses, lies of justification, lies in crises, lies protecting peers and clients. Bok also analyzes "lies to the incompetent.”

Has the Bush war administration been engaging in lies to the incompetent–namely us, the American people?

Maybe that paranoia is really a bill of particulars. Maybe we need legal authority to seriously examine, while under oath, policies and pronouncements that may have been lies of commission and omission. These lies (if that is what they turn out to be) should be sorted out from the plain, vanilla on steroids incompetence, riddling the Bush years.

Here’s a report on a “surge” you hear little or nothing about, electrical deaths and injuries to our troops in Iraq.

Who’s to blame? As usual, the stone-walling by KBR and the Bush administration matches the Great Wall of China. Nice point in this report about “accusations of overbilling” and “[hiring] unskilled Iraqis who were paid only a few dollars a day” to electrical work.


The New York Times July 18, 2008
Electrical Risks at Iraq Bases Are Worse Than Said

WASHINGTON — Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.

During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.

And while the Pentagon has previously reported that 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq, many more have been injured, some seriously, by shocks, according to the documents. A log compiled earlier this year at one building complex in Baghdad disclosed that soldiers complained of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis. . . .

The reports of shoddy electrical work have raised new questions about the Bush administration’s heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq, particularly because they come after other high-profile disputes involving KBR. They include, providing unsafe water to soldiers and failing to protect female employees who were sexually assaulted.

Officials say the administration contracted out so much work in Iraq that companies like KBR were simply overwhelmed by the scale of the operations. Some of the electrical work, for example, was turned over to subcontractors, some of which hired unskilled Iraqis who were paid only a few dollars a day.



Sunday, July 06, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 29]

US and Iraqi forces drive al-Qa'ida from stronghold
The Australian
Marie Colvin, Mosul | July 07, 2008

AMERICAN and Iraqi forces are driving al-Qa'ida in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country. . . .

The group has been reduced to hit-and-run attacks, including one that killed two off-duty policemen at the weekend, and sporadic bombings aimed at killing large numbers of officials and civilians. . . .

US and Iraqi leaders believe that while it is premature to write off al-Qa'ida in Iraq, the Sunni group has lost control of its last urban base in Mosul, and its remnants have been driven into countryside to the south.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has also led a crackdown on the Shia Mahdi Army in Basra and Baghdad in recent months, claimed yesterday that his Government had "defeated" terrorism. . . .

Iraq is enjoying a surge in oil revenue driven by record crude prices and the highest production levels since Saddam's ouster. The Government expects to earn $73 billion from oil this year if prices remain high.

Putting some of this money to work, the Iraqi Government held a groundbreaking ceremony at the weekend for a project to refurbish the main road to the Baghdad airport.


Is The Australian a “the surge is working” or, as the critics of the critics of the war so profoundly put it, a “cut and run” news source? Who cares? This is good news–isn’t it?

The report notes only two policemen killed and, what the heck, they were off duty.

Bombings? Hey, we can live (though some will die) with “sporadic.”

And how about the chasing of the “remnants” of those pesky trouble makers into the countryside? I guess they will live there, happily ever after, as the brilliant fairy tale planners of this war envisioned it.

But the best news of all comes from Iraq’s Prime Minister, he pronounces, let’s put it in bold and in caps: “HIS GOVERNMENT HAD “DEFEATED” TERRORISM.” And why shouldn’t we believe our staunch, democratically elected, ally?

And the good news just keeps coming. $73 billion from oil going to the honest and efficient Iraqi government (and their families and clans) this year. That should shut the mouths of those clueless critics of Bush and McBush who are always saying Americans haven’t been asked to sacrifice during this war. Well, as anyone who has ever stood in front of a gas pump and watched the dollars ring up knows, Americans are putting their support of the war in their gas tanks, right next to their fading “Bomb Saddam” bumper stickers.

Nice touch at the end of this story, “the Iraqi Government held a groundbreaking ceremony at the weekend for a project to refurbish the main road to the Baghdad airport.” This IED pocked stretch of road does need some fixing.

Hope they get it done soon so that we can give our brave troops a smooth ride to the planes that will bring them home. Seeing as the surge has worked to perfection, why would we need to keep them over there?