Not Everything Went Bush's Way Today
On a day that George W. Bush had the best economic news of his presidency, he got bad news in three other places, developments that will get lost in today’s news cycle but will last a few cycles longer. First, the Center for Public Integrity got a lot of deserved press play today for a study they did to see how the firms benefiting from the bulk of the Afghanistan/Iraq reconstruction contracts paid for their taxpayer largesse. Not surprisingly, the top ten firms winning these contracts gave the most money over the last ten years to one politician: George W. Bush, who managed to collect $500,000 from these firms.
More than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies donated more money to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush—a little over $500,000—than to any other politician over the last dozen years, the Center found.
The Center, in its efforts to find out exactly how much was being spent on these contracts found a startling lack of accountability and responsiveness from State, Defense, and other parts of the Bush Administration in response to the Center’s Freedom of Information Act requests. And what would a story like this about the Bush Administration be without a typical GOP conflict of interest? The New York Times in its coverage had this gem:
The report confirms that many if not most of the contracts handed out for work in Iraq were awarded through a process that was inscrutable to outsiders and often without competitive bidding.
One consultant, given a four-month contract to advise Iraqi government agencies, was the husband of Carol Haave, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for security and information operations. A Pentagon spokesman said that Ms. Haave did not see this as a conflict of interest, according to Bloomberg News.
The State Department spokesman, Richard A. Boucher, told reporters on Thursday that "the reason that these companies get the contracts has nothing to do with who may have worked there before."
The Senate Intelligence Committee, in a letter to Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, demanded Thursday that the White House "must lift" its objections and hand over to the panel documents related to intelligence about Iraq and its illicit weapons before the war.
The panel set a deadline of noon Friday for compliance by the White House, the same as it has set for the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Pentagon to provide documents and schedule interviews that the committee has been seeking for months.
Among the documents sought by the committee, Congressional officials said, are copies of President Bush's Daily Brief, a document prepared by the C.I.A. that the White House has until now maintained was off limits to Congress because of executive privilege.
A White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity expressed surprise on Thursday night at "the substance and tone of the committee's letter." The official said the White House had been cooperating with the Senate panel and had provided committee investigators "access to relevant documents even though the committee does not have jurisdiction over the White House."
The letters went to Rice, Rummy and Colin. The Senators have not heard from the State Department, Rummy is said to be working on his response already, and the White House is laying the groundwork for another executive privilege defense, this time to Congress.
Third, Bush lost his latest attempt to ram through a right wing judge for the Court of Appeal when Bill Frist was unable to get enough votes to break a Tom Daschle-led filibuster today in opposition to Charles Pickering. Frist was only able to pull John Breaux and Zell Miller along with Jim Jeffords over to vote against the filibuster.