Did Duke Cunningham Trade Soldiers' Lives for Wealth?

Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 11:33 AM

That certainly appears to be the case based on a CBS investigation of at least one area in Iraq: an expensive military effort to minimize US casualties from IEDs.

According to the CBS story:
2004, the top request from the U.S. command in Iraq was the ability to target IED networks.

Congress poured in tens of millions of dollars to a company called MZM - but deaths and injuries continued to soar, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports for Follow the Money.

It was the job of intelligence officer Maj. Eric Egland to find out why.


Egland told us he discovered stunning lapses on the part of MZM, which only hired a third of the employees they were paid for.

... "The capability that was being funded was given an unqualified contractor, who failed at even the most basic level to provide the right people, the right resources and the right capability to help our troops deal with the No. 1 threat in Iraq," Egland said.

With American lives at stake, Egland couldn't imagine how a company like MZM got such a crucial contract. His next assignment took him to a place where he could find the answer: The Pentagon.

There, Egland did some digging and found MZM had gotten millions in Defense contracts - courtesy of Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Calif., in the form of earmarks, grants of money without the normal public review.

As member of the House Intelligence Committee, Cunningham was able to keep the earmarks even more secret than most by making them "classified."

"It was not a merit-based process. It was based on sneaking a large contract to a company that had given millions of dollars in bribes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to powerful members of Congress," Egland said.

Good old war hero, military-loving Duke Cunningham looking out for....himself, at the expense of the military he pretended to love so much.

So here's a challenge for all the folks with "Support Our Troops" magnets and the like: why don't you show exactly how much you do support the troops and let every one of your federal elected representatives know how disgusting you find this, and demand that they fix the ridiculously corrupt Senate and House processes, at least to the point where soldiers in a combat zone don't have to worry about their lives being endangered because some congressman-shmuck decided he needed to live the high (or higher) life?

And while we're at it, why don't you same folks get in touch with the President and the Vice President, and tell them how much you appreciate their having sent too few troops into Iraq to do the job they so passionately claimed needed to be done? After all, the lack of troops to guard Iraqi munitions dumps during the invasion put tons--literally--of weapons into the hands of those who became "the insurgents." And the same lack of troops for the next few years allowed those insurgents to use those weapons far more effectively in killing and wounding American soldiers.

Go ahead, really support the troops. I dare you.


The death penalty should be applied to war profiteers

I don't tend to be a big death penalty advocate, but the situations that come closest to calling for it, in my opinion, are those in which people take advantage of their superior position to do great harm to those who are helpless to protect themselves. In addition to things like child and eleder abuse, that includes prisoner abuse (of which we, as a nation, are increasingly guilty) and, yes, war profiteering of this kind.

But as you can probably tell from the original post, what really gets under my skin are the hordes of people who want to demonstrate their symbolic support for the troops because it's as easy as buying a magnet on credit and slapping it on your car, but are so immensely lazy and uninterested in actual support for the troops that they don't know who Duke Cunningham is or what he did or the consequences of what he did.

The right wing, especially the talk radio pack of putridity, loves to agitate this crowd (just shout "gays" and "atheists" and "liberals") by manipulating their laziness: they listen to the radio because its easy, they take what the Limbaugh crowd says at face value because its easier than thinking about it, and they don't ever make an effort to get information outside this closed loop because that would be hard.

And they certainly won't complain about Cunningham and the processes that allowed him to trade tropps for dollars because that would take real energy, and God forbid, would require that they leave the pack for a moment.