Privatization & Procurement

For more than three decades, foreign oil companies wanting into Iraq have been like children pressed against the sweet shop window - desperately seeking to feast on the goodies but having no way of getting through the door. That could soon change.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed suit today against the country's largest private extradition company on behalf of a female prisoner who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a sexual assault by a company guard during a drive from Texas to Colorado.
At Halliburton's recent annual shareholders meeting in Houston, all was remarkably staid as the company celebrated its $4 billion in 2008 operating profits, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Just three months ago, however, Halliburton didn't hesitate to pay $382 million in fines to the U.S. Department of Justice as part of the settlement of a controversial KBR gas project in Nigeria in which the company admitted to paying a $180 million bribe to government officials.
In the history of the Iraq War, one name is perhaps synonymous with the collapse of the Bush administration's hopes for a post-Saddam world: Retired Lt. General Jay M. Garner, who served as the first post-war administrator. This year, he and a small group of former US military leaders, officials, and lobbyists have quietly used their Kurdistan connections to help Canadian companies access some of the region's richest oil fields.
A government decision to cut food rations has hurt poor Iraqis who cannot afford high prices on the open market, say economists and Baghdad residents.
A major Dutch arms manufacturer's bankruptcy revealed a secret deal to supply weapons to General Augusto Pinochet of Chile. The man behind the scheme is now a tax exile who appears to be immune from charges of bribery or tax evasion.
Overhead costs have consumed more than half the budget of some reconstruction projects in Iraq, according to a government estimate released yesterday, leaving far less money than expected to provide the oil, water and electricity needed to improve the lives of Iraqis.
International financial consortia have already squeezed local shareholders out of banks in El Salvador, and now they are expected to sideline the state, all of which will contribute to widening the gap between rich and poor.
Former managers working for Custer Battles, a high-profile private security company in Iraq, are accusing the firm of using companies in the Cayman Islands and other "tax haven" countries to fraudulently overcharge on government contracts by tens of millions of dollars.
On the first floor of a tan building inside Baghdad's Green Zone, the full scope of Iraq's daily carnage is condensed into a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation. The intelligence was compiled not by the U.S. military, but by a British security firm, Aegis Defence Services Ltd. The Reconstruction Operations Center is the most visible example of how intelligence collection is now among the responsibilities handled by a network of private security companies that work in the shadows of the U.S. military.