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Deja Vu All Over Again: Haliburton and the Rebuilding of New Orleans

Blog or WebsiteGood stuff from Democracy Arsenal blog:

"Call me paranoid, but if Iraq is any indication, there's good reason to be concerned to ensure that the devastation of New Orleans does not wind up simply lining the pockets of contractors with deep connections to the Bush Administration.

For the reconstruction of Iraq, exigencies like the need for speed and the lack of security on the ground were used to justify granting massive, long-term no bid contracts to firms with tight ties to senior members of the Administration. The principal beneficiary was, of course, Halliburton, where Dick Cheney was CEO prior to becoming Vice President.

Rep. Henry Waxman has revealed that Halliburton and its subsidiaries have been awarded more than $10 billion in contracts for providing logistical support to US troops in Iraq and helping to rebuild that country's oil infrastructure...

Ten billion dollars have already been appropriated by Congress for the relief and reconstruction of New Orleans. Billions more will follow. Halliburton's already in on the action - under an existing $500 million contract with the navy they are rebuilding a Gulf Coast naval base...

What should happen?

* Competitive bidding for everything, or for everything but the work that must happen over the next few weeks;
* Zero-tolerance for shoddy accounting and over-billing - in Iraq we may have few alternatives, here there are many;
* Strict GAO and Congressional oversight of the reconstruction process from the get-go;
* Immediate planning for how to involve the local community and maximize opportunities for area companies, for skilled people and for the unemployed/unskilled labor;
* Close media scrutiny of the bail-out and reconstruction process as it unfolds - this story will have legs for years to come as either a tale of redemption or a chronicle of abuses piled on other abuses.
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