I don’t know just why he’s been so destructive with the Army when, as Secretary of Defense, he has equal opportunities to savage the Air Force, Navy and Marines. But it seems his belligerence and arrogance, his dishonoring and dismembering is reserved in some Machiavellian way for the guys in green. He was a Navy guy, maybe that’s it.
From the skewering several weeks ago of a three-star general for having a mistress, the Donald has moved seamlessly to doing the latest bit of Dick Cheney dirty-work by sacking (or allowing to be sacked, let the blood never touch his fingers) Bunnatine Greenhouse.
Well, Ms. Greenhouse just happens to enjoy the very top rank of civilian government employees, that of the Senior Executive Service. Bunny made the unpardonable error of saying it like it is, criticizing a multibillion dollar no-bid contract given out by the Army. Another of those Boeing-like ethical stumbles. Only this time the civilian contract oversight was on the exposing rather than the covering-up side of the issue.
Greenhouse said “I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed in twenty years working on government contracts.” Greenhouse went on to argue that “I observed, first hand, that essentially every aspect of the contract remained under the control of the Secretary of Defense. This troubled me and was wrong.”
Tough words from a tough lady, doing the job she was given. One might logically expect that when the top-dog civilian overseer of military contracts makes a statement like that, Rummy would polish his spectacles and take a look.
Not a chance. KBR is Kellog Brown and Root and the decision was made to award this particularly egregious no-bid contract to one of KBR’s subsidiaries and the specific subsidiary is called Halliburton. Oh, that Halliburton. Yes, that Halliburton.
Of course there are no fingerprints on this fast-shuffle, not yet at least. The honor of commanding this particular firing-squad goes to another of the Pentagon’s gutless wonders, a three-star name of Carl A. Strock, commander of that legendary fuck-up, the Army Corps of Engineers. Even as Strock ‘removed Greenhouse from her job,’ the force-4 hurricane named Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans’ badly-engineered levies.
Now of course that circumstance can cut two ways. One way is to absolutely obscure Greenhouse’s summary firing in the New Orleans based hell that is descending upon the general’s shoulders. The other is magnifying to an already outraged Congress just how petty and nearsighted, how vindictive and self-protective the military has become under Rumsfeld. We’ll have to wait and see.
The consistent Halliburton embarrassments that center on Iraq mirror the persistent Corps of Engineers failings that center in the lower-Mississippi infrastructure. It’s just by the merest of circumstances that these particular situations converge at the same moment in the otherwise placid environment of General Strock’s office. They are each of them symptomatic of this particularly inept administration.
Money, equipment, manpower and expertise that should have been allocated to the Gulf Coast was siphoned off to the Bush tax cuts. Money, equipment, manpower and expertise that should have been allocated to the Gulf War was siphoned off to the Bush tax cuts. The former results in an area of the country only marginally prepared for a force-3 storm, suffering a force-4 disaster. The latter results in a persistent and uncontrolled case of war-profiteering, sanctioned by Dick Cheney.
Incredibly, in both cases, the instrument of deliverance, the purveyor of the dirty-work, the bearer of shame has been the United States Army.