Monday, September 28, 2009

Double Standard In Awarding Contracts

If you missed this last week, watch it. In its entirety. On Friday, Rachel Maddow continued her series on the trumped-up war on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. A partial transcript of the segment is here; the video is below; transcript of the program is available here. She began by noting that the amendment to the bill recently passed by Congress defunding ACORN is probably unconstitutional because, as an apparent bill of attainder, it targets one specific organization. She continues

So giant government defense contractors, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, it looks like you‘re out of luck. Lockheed Martin has been forced to pay at least $68 million for getting caught 11 separate times committing government contract fraud. Northrop Grumman has had to pay around $500 million for getting caught nine times for contract fraud. Sorry, guys, but if we‘re going to nail ACORN here, you‘ve got to go.

And if—and if fraud is going to be the new issue in our newfound enthusiasm for defunding people, then Blackwater is going to have a problem, too. In just one of Blackwater‘s many government contracts, they were recently found to have defrauded the government to the tune of $55 million. And that‘s just one Blackwater contractor, and they‘ve got lots of contracts.

But if fraud is not bad enough for you, how about murder? Because five Blackwater employees have been charged with murder during the course of their government contracted duties in Iraq. Is murder enough to defund Blackwater?

How about if people they‘re killing, the contractors killing aren‘t just Iraqi civilians or somebody else we don‘t know, how about if they‘re U.S. troops? Because KBR, with its government contracts, is under investigation for killing 16 American troops who were electrocuted through KBR shoddy works supposedly building and maintaining living quarters for our troops in Iraq.

I mean, to be fair, I will admit that if we are talking about behavior by contractors that warrants them being defunded by an outrage Congress, none of those things I just described from those other contractors are prostitution specific, like the Republican and conservative media ACORN case has been. Ever since two activists dressed up in pimp and hooker costumes and then went from ACORN office to ACORN office with a hidden camera until they got a reaction out of ACORN employees that would play well on FOX News.

If the hidden camera stunt induced prostitution angle is what it takes to get a government contract defunded, then I guess we‘re going to have to talk about prostitution broadly and the government contractor known as ArmorGroup, part of Wackenhut, in Afghanistan. Their employees, you‘ll recall, were made famous earlier this month after the release of these pictures that show the contractors barely clothed and shooting vodka out of places you wouldn‘t expect.

The same ArmorGroup personnel who, again, were being paid by you and me were also allegedly engaged in a prostitution ring in Kabul. That‘s according to an ArmorGroup whistleblower. The State Department is investigating ArmorGroup now.

But if we‘re going to talk contractors and prostitution, we‘re also going to have to talk about DynCorp, which is always been one of those horror movie U.S. contractor cases. In the year 2000, at least 13 DynCorp employees were sent home from a U.S. government contract in Bosnia after they were found to be taking part in a Bosnian sex slave ring involving underage girls, not a fake prostitution ring that never actually existed like the one in the activist hidden camera costumes stunt, but an actual forced child prostitution ring, an actual U.S. government contractors from DynCorp.

In the absence of any defund DynCorp uprising, DynCorp still gets a lot of government money. In fact, today, DynCorp landed a brand new $230 million contract with the U.S. Air Force. That‘s on top of the $915 million contract they got from the State Department in June.

ArmorGroup, the prostitution/vodka-shooting contract in Afghanistan at the Kabul embassy, they still got that nearly $200 million contract in Afghanistan with the State Department. But that is currently under review.

Blackwater still has multimillion dollar contracts with the State Department, the Defense Department, as well as the CIA, even as five of their employees face murder charges.

KBR was just awarded a new $19 million army contract in February, despite being investigated in the deaths of those 16 U.S. troops.

Not only have these contractors not been defunded by outraged members of Congress, they all continue to get spectacularly lucrative government contracts even after all of these things have been exposed. I‘m not reporting any of these things for the first time. They‘re all known.

So, sure, if you want to defund ACORN, go for it. ACORN has definitely done some indefensible stuff over the years. They are an imperfect organization, to be sure. But if this isn‘t just a witch-hunt against ACORN, if Congress is actually just going after government contractors who commit fraud and worse, then we can all look forward to the explanation from the fake outrage Republicans and the cowering Democrats about why nothing ever inspired them to defund anyone before ACORN. After that, by all mean, cut them all loose.

In politics, it is often said, once you start to defend yourself, you have lost. So it probably will have no effect on media coverage or public opinion to explain that singling out ACORN is illegal; that the video "evidence" against ACORN consists of one tape which has not been released in its entirety and which resulted from the visit to one of the many ACORN offices (perhaps after no one took the bait at any of the others visited); or even that the Repub campaign against ACORN is aimed at stopping its efforts at registering poor voters, disproportionately minority, who inconveniently vote Democratic. Unfortunately, the only viable option, as this installment, at least, suggests, is to remind voters that there are far, far greater crimes being committed in government contracting.

Finally, on one program on one cable network, some context is brought to the hand-wringing over (sarcasm alert)the evil behemoth ACORN. Elsewhere? The "liberal media" once again is playing its role as front man for corporate and GOP interests.

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