Saturday, October 06, 2007

Iraq US Embassy, Junk?

I'll preface this with a disclosure, I am a construction contractor, I do not do large commercial projects, nor do I install plumbing or electrical. I understand bid processes and I understand end products and I understand sub-contractors. They turned on the fire sprinkler system in the new Bhagdad Embassy and...it's junk. Joints burst, McClatchy's story takes us downhill from there. This $592 million dollar project is a disaster, it's on time (or was) and on budget (or was) and nobody is investigating.

State Dept Inspector General Howard Krongard refused to aggressively investigate according to former top investigators including former Asst Inspector General for Investigations John DeDona. Problems with this mess include having the wiring melt down, failure to install a blast proof wall, and allegations of near slavery hiring practices. You might be wondering what US company could possibly make such a mess, well, the builder is First Kuwaiti General Trade and Contracting Co. There is a bit of a story there as well; ah geeze, there's a bit of a story with everything involving Iraq it seems. I'm sure you remember something about emergency no bid contracts, here's another one.

Quite a few US contractors were interested in building this embassy, in fact it was put up for bid three times, with specifications changes each time, and finally issued to First Kuwaiti making a number of contractors unhappy, David Phinney in a Special to CorpWatch, got comments from contractors like:
“It's stunning what First Kuwaiti has been able to get from the State Department..."
“It was political..."


Several other contractors that competed for the embassy contracts shared similar reactions and believe that a high-level decision at the State Department was made to favor a Kuwait-based firm in appreciation for Kuwait's support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.



Everybody needs to make money, right? Well, somebody sure is, Mohammad I. H. Marafie, chairman and co-owner of FKTC, is a member of one of the most powerful mercantile families in Kuwait.




The company boasted of having $35 million in assets less than three years ago. Today, the firm has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. contracts in Iraq, pushing the company well past the $1 billion mark. With 7,000 employees in Iraq, the company claims to be holding $800 million in construction and supply contracts directly with the Army for military camps, plus more than $300 million under Halliburton 's multibillion dollar contract to perform military logistics for the occupation forces in Iraq.

Here's the real rub, some of the US firms had lower bids, $60-70 million lower and experience in such construction projects. I suppose you'd think there would be a limit to the cronyism in BushCo, though apparently Condi's patience with the schedule is wearing thin, not thin enough to actually do something, see Krongard...

It's not like this monster isn't the largest and most secure Embassy the US has or proposes, it's not like Iraq hasn't swallowed money like quicksand, it's not like everything BushCo does in that country with money doesn't have a political connection, damn, it's not even as though their favorite crony, Halliburton , Cheney's employer, hasn't shown the corruption of no-bid........

And the Republicans have the nerve to talk about and campaign on taxes and spending responsibility? In Japan they'd shut up and commit Hari Kari, here they run for President.

7 comments:

KISS said...

I live in a small coastal town, in Oregon. We have had so many General contractors screw innocent people, who paid up front $100.000.00 -1 300,000.00-2 and a few more. The bond for general contractors is a sad joke. General contracting in Oregon is a license to steal. Fraud is the norm for GC'a..IMHo. Yet big money from somewhere is keeping the bond at $15,000.00 as I understand. Most construction jobs around here are about 100K to 500k dollars. Today they call it flipping, when I did it it was called investing. I did it for years and never considered getting a contractor...but did get permits.

Chuck Butcher said...

So should I be flattered to be included as a contractor in your rant? There are established practices for building and hiring, if you put money up front you've made a stupid move. It is typical to require a down of some size, but certainly not anything like the entire amount. Nothing the govt can do will protect people from their own stupidity.

KISS said...

People are gullible and a general contractor should be bonded at least $200.00.00. While you may be legitimate how many are not. Siding contractors is such a joke movies are made of their insincerity. How about roofers? The list is endless...sure a tough guy as me is in no danger but most people I know are so believing, is that a reason for fleecing?
Have we found your Achilles heel?

Chuck Butcher said...

No Achilles heel, I've been in business in Baker City for 19yrs, roofing, siding, custom framing, finish carpentry. I provide quality, value, and back my work so I have no "heel."

Greg said...

Chuck,

I've been living in Japan since 2004, and I just have two little quibbles. First, "hari kari" is an American term, just like "kamikaze" was. The proper term for suicide by ritual disembowelment is "seppuku", with an accent on the double-p and the last vowel being slightly swallowed.

Second, (and I don't know if this is endemic to the culture or the result of westernization), while some perpetrators of white-collar crime do commit suicide here (the most popular methods seem to be hanging and jumping from tall buildings), they generally do so only after many weeks or months of angry denials.

The real cultural differences rear their heads after the deed is done. Back home there would be all kinds of public hand-wringing over the suicide of an executive or government minister. Back in 2004 when the chairman of the Seibu group hung himself over a stock scandal, the PM's response was essentially "Well, this is very sad for his family, but I think we all understood why he did it."

Steve-MD/DC said...

Chuck,

Thanks for your informed post on this issue [and to Greg on the comment on how Japanese leaders handle (or evade) acknowledging shameful activity].

This is yet another major theft from the US taxpayer by the smash-and-grab radical corporatists in charge these days. When honest folks in the acqusition oversight bureaucracy like Bunnatine (Bunny) Greenhouse started getting cashiered, I knew it was going to be ugly, but in no way did I anticipate the scale of criminal conduct by these prep school hoodlums.

Oh, and 'kiss' - good luck with that randomly directed rage thing. That stuff can eat your insides up, if you let it go untreated - be careful about that.

Steve-MD/DC
(came over via link by TRex at Firedoglake.com)

Chuck Butcher said...

Oh I knew seppuku, but everbody knows what hari kari is so there you are - artistic license. After angry denials...we've certainly had that part for about 6 1/2 years.

I appreciate TRex sending traffic my way, wow, quite a bit of it. Bunny Greenhouse is one of the casualties of BushCo. I wonder how many will try legal action once GeorgeII is out?