[CTRL] While Halliburton & DynCorp are Raking in the Dough ...

April 14 2003

 As US troops battle remnants of Iraq's fallen regime, their wives are locked
 in a bitter struggle against money woes that have forced some to resort to
 charity handouts to survive.

 Low military salaries and the high cost of living in parts of the United
 States means that families of many of the lower ranking US troops fighting
 in Iraq live a hand to mouth existence.

 "I know several wives of Marines with small children who line up at
 churches for grocery handouts which are the only way they can survive
 the month and feed and cloth the baby," said military wife, Natalie Castro,

 "Military salaries are so low that they are almost impossible for a family to
 live on, leaving some women desperate, especially now when we also have
 the emotional turmoil of worrying if our men are safe in Iraq," she said.

 Like many of her friends, the mother of a seven-month-old boy, relies on
 an American Red Cross program to supply her with crucial baby formula
 and on additional help from the military community.

 Castro, the wife of a 21-year old Marine private, is one of around 130,000
 residents of Oceanside, which is
 dominated by Marines from the nearby Camp Pendleton base and lies near
 the upscale Californian city of San Diego.

 Much like other US military towns, Oceanside's main street is festooned
 with US flags, patriotic messages for the troops in Iraq and miles of yellow
 ribbons symbolising the town's vigil for loved ones who are fighting abroad.

 Like much of California, the sun drenched seaside town boasts an idyllic
 beach and a resort town atmosphere. But it also comes with the higher
 rental and retail prices that go with life on the glistening Pacific coast.

 The main street is lined with scores of loan agencies that lend cash
 strapped soldiers up to $US250 ($A413) dollars on their next salaries in
 return for a post-dated cheque and a hefty $US44 ($A72) dollar charge on
 the transaction.

 Low ranking privates and corporals - they make up 60 per cent of the US
 Marine Corps - take home only around $US800 ($A1,323) dollars a month
 after tax, or $US9,600 ($A15,881) dollars annually.

 The US Census Bureau classifies a family of three as poor if its cash income
 is less than $US14,128 ($A23,371) dollars a year, or $US11,569 ($A19,138)
 dollars for a married couple.

 "We get a lot of young Marines' wives who need things like eggs, bread,
 vegetables and such items to get through the month," said Manny Garza
 who helps hand out food to the needy at Oceanside's St Mary's Church.

 "It's tough for them because they are so proud of what their husbands are
 doing, especially now that we are at war, yet they're battling at home," he
 said adding that many families did not like to talk of their financial woes.

 Even a combat pay boost awarded to troops in Iraq has not ended the
 monthly cash crunch that families of low ranking soldiers feel.

 "I've heard of women who are on welfare or use food stamps to go
 shopping, which adds to anxiety that wives with loved ones in Iraq are
 feeling," said Michelle Kester, the wife of a Marine recruiting master

 The Military Outreach Ministry gives boxes of essential monthly groceries,
 including baby nappies, to around 400 families of personnel at Camp
 Pendleton and San Diego's naval station.

 But it reaches up to 10,000 people a month who need additional handouts
 of items ranging from furniture to baby formula to medical assistance to
 household repairs.

 "Sometimes we have families which can just afford to move into a home off-
 base, but who then can't afford to furnish it, not even with a bed," said
 the ministry's Aline Bradley.

 "It is difficult, but the military does have programs, including ours, that
 provide a major safety belt for service families in trouble - they just have
 to know how to get that help."

 To help families manage their money, the military even provides courses on
 household budgeting and balancing chequebooks to soldiers' wives.

 But even with help from the military community and other groups, times
 are tough for young military families trying to live the American Dream in
 sunny California.

 "After tax and after paying for the car and its insurance and medical bills
 for the baby, there's nothing left," Castro said.

 "My husband and most of his friends all have second jobs or work
 whenever they can just to survive, which seems really wrong to me given
 the job they're doing for is Iraq."


 This story was found at:
APFN apfn@apfn.org 
Halliburton Contract Goes Beyond - $7 Billion!
Wed May 7 01:37:14 2003

Halliburton Contract Goes Beyond Fires

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - An emergency contract the Bush administration gave to Halliburton Co. to extinguish Iraqi oil fires also gave the firm a more lucrative role in getting the country's oil system up and running, documents showed Tuesday. 

A congressional critic of the Houston company, formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites), said the administration was hiding the expanded role.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton said the company's initial announcement of the contract on March 24 disclosed the larger role for its KBR subsidiary.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman last Friday, disclosed that the no-bid contract included not only extinguishing fires but "operation of facilities and distribution of products."

Waxman, D-Calif., senior Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee (news - web sites), wrote Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers of the Corps on Tuesday, saying the contract "is considerably broader in scope than previously known."

The lawmaker also said the Corps' proposal to replace the Halliburton contract with another long-term deal was at odds with administration statements that Iraq (news - web sites)'s oil belongs to the Iraqi people.

KBR was given the right to extinguish the oil fires under an existing, contingency contract. Cheney's office has said repeatedly the vice president had no role in the contract award.

Carol Sanders, a spokeswoman for the Corps of Engineers, said officials were reviewing the letter but had no immediate response.

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall pointed to the company's announcement of the contract in March, which she said revealed the extent of the work.

The release said: "KBR's initial task involves hazard and operational assessment, extinguishing oil well fires, capping oil well blowouts, as well as responding to any oil spills. Following this task, KBR will perform emergency repair, as directed, to provide for the continuity of operations of the Iraqi oil infrastructure."

Hall said KBR is assisting Iraq's oil ministry to get the oil system operating.

Waxman countered, "Only now, over five weeks after the contract was first disclosed, are members of Congress and the public learning that Halliburton may be asked to pump and distribute Iraqi oil under the contract."

Waxman also has repeated the Corps' statement that the contract could be worth up to $7 billion for up to two years, but the Corps said that figure was a cap based on a worst-case scenario of oil well fires. In fact, few wells were burning during the war with Iraq and the Corps said that by early April, the company had been paid $50.3 million.


On the Net:
Halliburton: http://www.halliburton.com 

What Did We Win?
by William Norman Grigg

The war was short and our losses — though tragic — were relatively light. But what did "Operation Iraqi Freedom" actually accomplish?

US names new envoy to Iraq, disclosed billion-dollar heist 

New Powers to Snoop Sought
Domestic access for CIA, Army
Back to the Iraq War Page
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