Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Privatization The Real Walter Reed Scandal

The mantra of the neo-cons for the past two decades has been that privatization is better at delivering services than the public sector. This is another example of the real life failure of privatization.

The Army Times reports the committee wants to question Weightman about the impact of the Army's decision to award a five year, 120 million dollar contract to IAP World Services, which is run by Al Neffgen, former COO of Halliburton's KBR, and David Swindle (that's really his name), also formerly of KBR. The decision to bring in private contractors at Walter Reed led to a virtual mass exodus of experienced career staffers.

Waxman notes that IAP "is led by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official who testified before our Committee in July 2004 in defense of Halliburton's exorbitant charges for fuel delivery and troop support in Iraq."

Before the contract, over 300 federal employees provided facilities management services at Walter Reed, according to the memorandum, but that number dropped to less than 60 the day before IAP took over.

KWAME HOLMAN: And Kiley acknowledged some patient care problems were exacerbated when the Army contracted out much of Walter Reed's facilities management and non-medical care to private companies.

DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), District of Columbia: Would it have been the better side of wisdom not to privatize everything here, except the clinical and medical workforce, and therefore add to the stability or the instability that inevitably comes with WRAMC?

LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: It did increase the instability.

This is a result of Americas first contracted out privatized war,which was the core policy of the neo-cons plan for the invasion of Iraq. To prove that a combined force of private mercenaries and regular armed forces could reduce war costs. Like the Iraq mission and its reconstruction this too is a failure.

In a largely invisible cost of the war in Iraq, nearly 800 civilians working under contract to the Pentagon have been killed and more than 3,300 hurt doing jobs normally handled by the U.S. military, according to figures gathered by The Associated Press.

Exactly how many of these employees doing the Pentagon's work are Americans is uncertain. But the casualty figures make it clear that the Defense Department's count of more than 3,100 U.S. military dead does not tell the whole story. "It's another unseen expense of the war," said Thomas Houle, a retired Air Force reservist whose brother-in-law died while driving a truck in Iraq. "It's almost disrespectful that it doesn't get the kind of publicity or respect that a soldier would."

Employees of defense contractors such as Halliburton, Blackwater and Wackenhut cook meals, do laundry, repair infrastruture, translate documents, analyze intelligence, guard prisoners, protect military convoys, deliver water in the heavily fortified Green Zone and stand sentry at buildings — often highly dangerous duties almost identical to those performed by many U.S. troops.

The U.S. has outsourced so many war and reconstruction duties that there are almost as many contractors (120,000) as U.S. troops (135,000) in the war zone.

The AP doesn't say if the private companies also provide high level workers' compensation and disability coverage for their workers -- even with high pay that's not a given -- but I wouldn't be surprised to find that contractors who've suffered traumatic brain injuries and multiple amputations are getting better care than the wounded soldiers being treated at Walter Reed.


Iraq Inspector General

Another Privatization Failure

Conservative Nanny State

Another Privatization Myth Busted


Privatization of War


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1 comment:

skip sievert said...

Privatization is another word for selling out to Special Interests. Special Interest always takes away from the rights and benefits of ordinary citizens.
Special Interests captured our system many years ago. Starting as long ago as 1948, our government, has been in the hands of special interests.
The military/industrial/congressional complex is a series of Special Interests of Price System manipulation.