Friday, November 03, 2006

Job well done... so now you're fired.

No "heck of a job, Brownie" for Stuart W. Bowen Jr. Silly man, what was he thinking? The NY Times reports that no good deed goes unpunished.
Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

Mr. Bowen’s office has inspected and audited taxpayer-financed projects like this prison in Nasiriya, Iraq.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.


Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who followed the bill closely as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, says that she still does not know how the provision made its way into what is called the conference report, which reconciles differences between House and Senate versions of a bill.

Neither the House nor the Senate version contained such a termination clause before the conference, all involved agree.

“It’s truly a mystery to me,” Ms. Collins said. “I looked at what I thought was the final version of the conference report and that provision was not in at that time.”

“The one thing I can confirm is that this was a last-minute insertion,” she said.

Glenn Greenwald analyzes this episode and then provides an update which over some interesting insight into just how this clause came to be inserted.
One of the very few things that has worked in Iraq is this office to uncover at least a tiny fraction of the fraud and theft perpetrated against this country by stealing corporations and their lobbyists and Congressional enablers. Thus, Republicans in Congress eliminated the office. And they did it deceitfully and in secret, by inserting it into a huge bill that was voted on with no time to detect it. And now none of them will admit responsibility for what they've done.

That is as good a snapshot as any of the incomparably destructive one-party Republican rule to which we have been subjected. This small story has virtually every element of how they function.


UPDATE: As KagroX points out in Comments, the Times article says that even though "Senators Collins and [John] Warner said they had nothing more than hunches on where the impetus for setting a termination date had originated," it seems that "the termination language was inserted into the bill by Congressional staff members working for Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and who declared on Monday that he plans to run for president in 2008."

As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Hunter is one of the largest beneficiaries of contributions from the very defense contractors who are the target of the investigative agency his staff secretly caused to be abolished. As the Times reports: "Three of the companies that have been a particular focus of Mr. Bowen’s investigations [are] Halliburton, Parsons and Bechtel . . . ."

That may seem incriminating at first glance, but it's really all just a big coincidence: "Mr. Holly, who is the House Armed Services spokesman as well as a member of Mr. Hunter’s staff, said that politics played no role and that there had been no direction from the administration or lobbying from the companies whose work in Iraq Mr. Bowen’s office has severely critiqued."


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