Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Merchants of Death

Submitted by a Phoblog reader:

Advocates of War Now Profit From Iraq's Reconstruction

In the months and years leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they marched together in the vanguard of those who advocated war.

As lobbyists, public relations counselors and confidential advisors to senior federal officials, they warned against Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, praised exiled leader Ahmad Chalabi, and argued that toppling Saddam Hussein was a matter of national security and moral duty.

Now, as fighting continues in Iraq, they are collecting tens of thousands of dollars in fees for helping business clients pursue federal contracts and other financial opportunities in Iraq. For instance, a former Senate aide who helped get U.S. funds for anti-Hussein exiles who are now active in Iraqi affairs has a $175,000 deal to advise Romania on winning business in Iraq and other matters.

And the ease with which they have moved from advocating policies and advising high government officials to making money in activities linked to their policies and advice reflects the blurred lines that often exist between public and private interests in Washington. In most cases, federal conflict-of-interest laws do not apply to former officials or to people serving only as advisors. . . . .

In an interview, [he] said he saw no conflict between advocating for the war and subsequently advising companies on business in Iraq.

Follow the money, indeed.

Now, oddly enough, as vile as I think this is, I wouldn't advocate tougher conflict-of-interest laws - because they'd be hollow and written by those who'd know the loopholes they were creating. They don't help, they just breed more laws, more regulation, more big government. I would, however, advocate a great American embracing of truth over spin. But that would require time, effort, and attention.

For now, I'll have to keep highlighting these people, keep registering voters, and keep waiting.

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