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Naomi Klein: Bush admin created ‘free-fraud zone’ in Iraq

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A U.S. military contractor has been indicted by the Justice Department of defrauding the United States government of “tens of millions of dollars,” Rachel Maddow reported Tuesday on MSNBC. The Los Angeles Times said the fraud may be worth over $1 billion dollars. The Kuwait-based company, Agility (formerly known as Public Warehousing Co.), is the main food supplier to the U.S. military in Iraq and has received $8.5 billion in contracts since 2003.

“And this, once again, was created by the Bush administration,” said Naomi Klein. “It created what one former CPA official — Coalition Provision Authority official [Franklin Willis] — described it as a ‘free-fraud zone'” in 2005. The CPA was the transitional Iraqi government after the removal of Saddam Hussein.

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Agility has been “temporarily suspended” but not banned from receiving new military contracts, and the firm says the allegations do not affect its present contracts, according to Reuters News.

Klein, a guest on Maddow’s program, said the prevalence of war profiteering and corruption can largely be attributed to the Bush administration’s embracement of privatizing government responsibilities. In Klein’s book, No Logo, which enjoys its tenth anniversary this Friday, critiques the corporate trends in the 1990s of increased branding and marketing while contracting out the production of goods and services to private firms.

“That’s been the most significant development in the world of branding – is the application of this corporate logic to government,” said Klein. “This war [in Iraq] is the most privatized war in modern history, and Donald Rumsfeld designed it this way – as a for-profit enterprise.”

She drew the parallels between the corporate trends of the ’90 and the Bush administration’s approach to government. “In the same way that Nike outsources all of its production to contractors in China and Thailand, well [Rumsfeld] would outsource all of the work of invasion and occupation to Blackwater and Armored Group and Halliburton,” she continued.

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“That was Rumsfeld’s transformation vision.”

Klein said this kind of corruption is inevitable in the government’s current approach in carrying out wars, comparing it to the surge in “sweatshop scandals” during the ‘90s where retailers denied any responsibility for the illegal and immoral activities of their suppliers. “You lose control when you are pitting all of your contractors against each other in that way,” she said.

The news coincides with Transparency International’s recent finding that Iraq and Afghanistan are among the five most corrupt countries in the world, ranking 5th most and 2nd most, respectively. The swelling of this kind of corruption presents new challenges in the United States’ efforts in those countries, as much of its success in transforming their political cultures depends on fostering civilian trust in their governments.

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This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Nov. 17, 2009.

Download video via RawReplay.com

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Additional reporting by Sahil Kapur

So – and this, once again, was created by the Bush administration.  It created what one former CPA official – Coalition Provision Authority official – described it as a free fraud zone.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump has been ‘insulated’ by his wealth to never have to learn from his mistakes: biographer

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President Donald Trump's inherited wealth has meant he's never had to learn from his mistakes, Trump biographer Tim O'Brien told MSNBC's Brian Williams on Thursday.

"Bloomberg Opinion writer and our next guest Tim O’Brien writes today, 'Yes, of course, you need a certain kind of appalling narcissism to be comfy promoting yourself as heaven-sent in a televised press briefing and as a deity on Twitter. It’s doubly unhinged when you’re doing this as president,'" Williams said. "He goes on 'The Trump of the past few weeks is the same disordered figure of the past several decades with, I suspect, a big dollop of something new blended in: unbridled and unmanageable panic.'"

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‘Both Putin and Xi will be voting Trump in 2020’: NYT columnist says Russia and China want ‘turmoil and chaos’

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The Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China are both rooting for President Donald Trump to win re-election in 2020, a New York Times columnist argued on MSNBC on Thursday.

Thomas Friedman was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word."

"What do we know about how the leaders of other countries see Donald Trump at this stage in their dealings with him?" O'Donnell asked. "Especially this weekend, when it comes at the end of a week in which they’ve heard him call himself the King of Israel, they have heard him say he is The Chosen One. They have heard all the crazy things that everyone here has heard the president say."

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Trump is ‘not a stable genius’: GOP strategist says the president ‘doesn’t remember who and where he is’

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President Donald Trump's mental fitness is lacking, a top Republican strategist explained on "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Rick Wilson, the author of the 2018 bestselling book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, blasted the commander-in-chief.

"Rick Wilson, your assessment of where the president stands as he heads off to the G7 summit?" O'Donnell asked.

"I think Donald Trump has had a week in which he is proving that this isn’t 87-dimensional chess game, this isn't some masterful strategy of communications or persuasion," Wilson replied. "This is an old man who is sick and who has problems and who has mental disconnects and who has aphasias and who has moments where he doesn’t remember who and where he is."

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