Senators hear how DOD let tail bite tooth in Iraq

tn_dina.jpg Dina Rasor, co-author, Betraying our Troops

Dina Rasor is a Northern California woman who has been investigating waste and fraud in the Pentagon for going on 25 years. Most recently she is the co-author of “Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War.” The book argues that an incredible and unmonitored expansion in the use of contract firms to supply U.S. troops with water, food and other supports led to unconsionable waste and worse — the endangerment of our field troops.

In milspeak logistics and supply functions are called the tail. Fighting troops are called the tooth. Rasor testified before a U.S. Senate committee in January. She said the Pentagon outsourced logistics to an extraordinary degree in Iraq. One contract (LOGCAPIII) had been a $60 million — with an M – deal under which Halliburton/KBR would support U.S. troops in the Balkans. Rasor told senators that “the Army took the LOGCAP III contract . . . and exploded it to replace the people and supplies that they did not have in the Army . . . To date, the LOGCAP III contact is estimated to have cost the Army $26 billion.”

The taxpayer might wonder whether the cost controls of the original contract were sufficient to monitor what amounts to a 430-fold increase in expenditures. But that’s only money. What should boil our blood is Rasor’s testimony about:

“a manager for KBR, who was contracted to provide food, water, supply transportation and other services to our troops in Iraq. He told a general at his Iraq base that unless KBR was paid for their submitted invoices, his workers would stay in their housing containers and do nothing until the money was paid. In other words, KBR was threatening a work stoppage in a war zone. This was not an isolated incident.” 

Scott Horton, a contributing editor with Harper’s Magazine interviewed Rasor and co-author Robert Bauman last fall. In that article Rasor said the Pentagon has attacked critics of its outsourcing program — most notably the military officers who have stepped forward to blow the whistle on contractor malfeasance.

“The primary whistleblower featured in our book, Major Rick Lamberth, has suffered retaliation and threats of his career being ruined by the Army if he continued to talk publicly about the problems. Harsh treatment and retribution has been a pattern against those who dare to blow the whistle about contracting problems for Iraq. There have been very few, if any, success stories for whistleblowers trying to expose fraud during this war.”

A year ago Congressman Henry Waxman introduced H.R. 985, the Whistleblower Protection Act. It has passed the House but it seems like it’s been stuck in the Senate subcommittee on government oversight since last June. We need this law. There is no way Congress or the media can penetrate the Pentagon. We need honest officers and civilians to step forward and reveal how these REMFs — “rear echelon mother figures” — robbed taxpayers and stabbed soldiers in the back.