Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Contracting Under The Bush Administration

More Dollars, Less Sense

June 27th, 2007 by Karina   The Gavel

Today the Oversight Committee released a report entitled More Dollars, Less Sense: Worsening Contracting Trends Under the Bush Administration. Last year, the committee conducted the first comprehensive assessment of government contracting under the Bush Administration creating an online searchable database of problem contracts and releasing a report finding “that between 2000 and 2005, federal procurement spending rose by over 80%, no-bid and other contracts awarded without full and open competition increased by over 100%, and contract mismanagement led to rising waste, fraud, and abuse in federal procurement.”

Non Competitive Contract Spending Has IncreasedThe report released today analyzing the 2006 federal procurement data reveals that procurement spending continues to grow rapidly with over $200 billion in new contracts awarded uncompetitively. Specifically, the report finds:

Procurement Spending Continues to Grow Rapidly. Last year’s report found that procurement spending had risen from $203.1 billion in 2000 to $377.5 in 2005. This year’s report finds that procurement spending increased to $412.1 billion in 2006, a new record. Contract spending has now more than doubled since President Bush took office. At the Department of Homeland Security, procurement spending increased by 51% last year alone. Since 2000, spending on federal contracts has grown more than twice as fast as other discretionary federal spending. For the first time, the federal government now spends over 40 cents of every discretionary dollar on contracts with private companies.

The Award of Noncompetitive Contracts Is Accelerating Dangerously. Last year’s report found that no-bid contracts and other forms of contracts awarded without full and open competition had risen from $67.5 billion in 2000 to $145.1 billion in 2005. This year’s report finds that spending on these no-bid and limited-competition contracts surged over $60 billion to $206.9 billion in 2006, the largest single-year increase ever. The value of federal contracts awarded without full and open competition has more than tripled since 2000. For the first time on record, more than half of federal procurement spending was awarded through no-bid and limited-competition contracts in 2006.

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Continue to Soar. Last year’s report identified 118 contracts valued at $745.5 billion that had been found by government auditors to involve significant waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement. This year’s report identifies 187 contracts valued at $1.1 trillion that have been plagued by waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement. In the case of each of these 187 contracts, reports from the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, agency inspectors general, or other independent federal oversight officials have documented significant overcharges, wasteful spending, or mismanagement over the last six years.

On March 15th, the House overwhelmingly passed the Accountability in Contracting Act which requires federal agencies to limit the use of abuse-prone contracts and increases transparency and accountability in federal contracts. The Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy declaring their strong opposition to the legislation. Chairman Waxman explains: “It looks like this Administration would now like to keep us from getting embarrassing information about them, because they don’t like this bill. ‘We have to give too many reports to Congress…there has to be too much transparency…it’s burdensome to have to be open about these contracts.’ But the fact of the matter is, we are spending an incredible amount of money on these outside contracts. And from what we have seen, our taxpayers are not being protected from waste, fraud, abuse and corruption.”

     Let's be honest with each other shall we? How many of you who have read this would really believe anything different to come from a Republican administration especially one such as this Bush clan? History tells us that anything that any member of the Bush family has been involved in has been plagued with corruption and malfeasance. It doesn't help that we have the dumbest member of this family up on stage trying to act like he knows something when we all know that he is an idiot. I'm still trying to figure out why many of you voted for this moron ( twice ) even after seeing that anything he has ever done has been a failure.

   Personally, I think that George Bush would have had an outstanding career as a Muppet character. Just look at him.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cheney Part 2 From WaPo

  I'm not even going to add my own comments to this as I could not do it justice. Everyone should read this story from the Washington Post and maybe you few remaining idiots on this earth will wake the fuck up!

    From Daily Kos

Cheney Part II is out:

by dday Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:59:53 PM PDT

    The next installment in the Washington Post series on the Imperial Fourthbranch Vice Presidency has hit the Internet.  This is truly a groundbreaking series that will hopefully open the public's eye to the fact that we have had a de facto coup in this country, led by an unaccountable Machiavelli who has used every bureaucratic trick you can think of to countermand his foes in the executive branch and push his brand of supreme executive power that disregards civil liberties, respect for the Constitution, or even the notion of human rights itself.  It's just as stunning as the first imstallment, perhaps more so.

Here we learn that Cheney was at the heart of the soul-deadening practice of torture to extract information from our enemies.

Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

A lot of these reinterpretations have been since overturned by juidical review.  But even when the forces of justice and democracy feel they have won, behind the scenes they have not.  Because Cheney is like a marionette artist at controlling levers of power.  He uses some of the most skillful lawyerly tactics to give the appearance of staying within the law while essentially gutting it:

Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." [...] The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential direction for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.

The vice president's counsel proposed that President Bush issue a carefully ambiguous directive. Detainees would be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of" the Geneva Conventions. When Bush issued his public decision two weeks later, on Feb. 7, 2002, he adopted Addington's formula -- with all its room for maneuver -- verbatim.

And so we get a definition of torture that equates it only with organ failure or death, enabling any over treatment to be allowable.  As it turns out, Cheney had his fingers all over this redefinition, and his own lawyer, David Addington, was the ghost writer of the infamous "torture memo":

The vice president's lawyer advocated what was considered the memo's most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line of torture. U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to "commit torture," that passage stated, "do not apply" to the commander in chief, because Congress "may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield."

That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of specific interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA -- including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government classified as a war crime in 1947. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

Apparently, everyone in the White House is afraid of Cheney, so when they have a problem with what he's done, they go beat up on Fredo:

On June 8, 2004, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell learned of the two-year-old torture memo for the first time from an article in The Washington Post. According to a former White House official with firsthand knowledge, they confronted Gonzales together in his office.

Rice "very angrily said there would be no more secret opinions on international and national security law," the official said, adding that she threatened to take the matter to the president if Gonzales kept them out of the loop again. Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that Rice dressed down the president's lawyer "in full Nurse Ratched mode," a reference to the ward chief of a mental hospital in the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Neither of them took their objections to Cheney, the official said, a much more dangerous course.

What kind of mutated government have we constructed where the Vice President not only walls off his office to the snooping eyes and ears of Congressional and executive oversight, but his own peers are too afraid of him to confront him, and so take out their frustrations on lower-level functionaries while Cheney goes behind all of their backs and essentially runs the government, his hand up the back of his empty-suit ventriloquist's dummy called the President?  More than anything, this is an exposure of the cracks in the Constitutional fabric, demanding that the entire structure of it be reviewed to prevent this kind of unaccountability from ever happening again.

The Vice President was writing our intelligence laws.  He was determining how far military interrogators and the CIA could go to attempt to extract information.  He was fighting, and winning, turf battles with practically every federal agency in the government.

The other problem with this, of course, is that Cheney is a dangerously stupid man, who has constructed a view of executive power that doesn't exist, and has convinced himself and his acolytes that it gives him unllimited control.  So when these theories are brought into court, like in Hamdi or Hamdan or Rasul they are always overturned.  However, Cheney could always fall back on his secret maneuvering inside the government to come up with ways to circumvent any restriction.

On Oct. 5, 2005, the Senate voted 90 to 9 in favor of McCain's Detainee Treatment Act, which included the Geneva language. It was, by any measure, a rebuke to Cheney. Bush signed the bill into law. "Well, I don't win all the arguments," Cheney told the Wall Street Journal [...]

Eager to put detainee scandals behind them, Bush's advisers spent days composing a statement in which the president would declare support for the veto-proof bill on detainee treatment. Hours before Bush signed it into law on Dec. 30, 2005, Cheney's lawyer intercepted the accompanying statement "and just literally takes his red pen all the way through it," according to an official with firsthand knowledge.

Addington substituted a single sentence. Bush, he wrote, would interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief."

Yep, the familiar signing statement language comes from Cheney.

Read the whole thing and weep for our country.  

UPDATE: Another part at the end ties into that whole "Guantanamo is closing any day now" story from late last week, a goal that apparently everyone in the United States wants except for Mitt Romney and Fourthbranch.  Cheney is pushing, and succeeding at, plans to expand the detention center.

But that's not the scariest thing at all.  After all of the setbacks with detainee policy, with Congressional pushback on torture, the Vice President is essentially telling his empty suit of a "superior" that he can ignore any law imposed on him by another branch of government, which of course flatters the runaway ego of our C+ Augustus, as Charlie Pierce would call him.

According to participants in the debate, the vice president stands by the view that Bush need not honor any of the new judicial and legislative restrictions (on torture). His lawyer, they said, has recently restated Cheney's argument that when courts and Congress "purport to" limit the commander in chief's warmaking authority, he has the constitutional prerogative to disregard them.

Absolutely no opinion or restriction or American law means anything to Dick Cheney.  He simply doesn't treat them as relevant.  As much as we'd like to blink our eyes and make it January 2009, that stated belief - that the President has "constitutional prerogative" to disregard any other branch of government - ought to inform everyone that the work of fighting this out-of-control despot must continue with laser-like focus to the very last day.