The Senate on Monday approved a major Department of Defense policy bill that includes a provision cosponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders to create a commission to investigate U.S. wartime contracting abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan. "There is already a lot of evidence that they have overcharged the taxpayers of this country. Money that should've been going to our soldiers has been going to make very wealthy people even wealthier," Sanders told Vermont Public Radio.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting addresses rampant corruption and other problems with private companies operating in
"The evidence is clear that taxpayers are being ripped off for billions of dollars in no-bid contracts awarded to Halliburton and other firms," Sanders said. "Astonishingly, we know that $9 billion spent on private contractors in
Halliburton, the giant defense contractor that Vice President Cheney once headed, is an example of the private companies that have been awarded huge, no-bid contracts in
The commission also will identify new safeguards for companies that provide private security guards, such as the security contractor Blackwater USA, which is under investigation in the shooting deaths of 11 Iraqis last month and over a 2004 ambush in which four of its staff were killed.
The legislation to create the commission - originally sponsored by Senators Sanders, Jim Webb, Claire McCaskill and other freshmen senators - was inspired by the World War II-era work of the "Truman Committee." Named for then-Senator Harry S Truman, the committee conducted hundreds of hearings and investigations into government waste and is credited with saving taxpayers more than $15 billion in 1943 dollars.
In the current conflict in
The legislation was supported of taxpayer watchdog groups, such as the Project on Government Oversight, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Government Accountability Project, OMB Watch, and
To read about or listen to the Vermont Public Radio story on the Wartime Contracting Commission, click here.
To view a NY Times multimedia slideshow on this issue click here.