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The $3-Trillion War
Posted on Apr 16, 2008
Harris: You said earlier that it appears that no crimes have been committed or no laws have been broken. Policy aside and politics aside, I think crimes have been committed; both American and Iraqi citizens have been wronged on a scale much larger than we will ever be able to imagine, and that there seems to be nothing tangible that we can reach out and say, “OK but at least that’s going to happen,” or “At least she’s going to make a change.” I don’t see that, and it’s quite disheartening as you mentioned earlier. This could be depressing.
Bilmes: Well, it could be, and I think one of the things that we found in writing the book was that, every single week, we kept coming across another incredible, unbelievable finding. I mean, it was to the point where whoever—Joe or I—found it, we were saying, “No, this can’t be.” But it was. “No, this can’t be.” But it was. Just last week, another one emerged when it was discovered that the major contractor in Iraq, which is the Halliburton subsidiary KBR—and this really is an incredible one—has been employing its workers using a shell company in the Cayman Islands, thereby evading hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. taxes. Now, this is not right. Now, it was not breaking a law because there was no law saying you couldn’t do that because no one imagined it would be done. But here we have a situation where sort of official, our official contractor, who is deeply embedded in every aspect of the war, is evading paying U.S. taxes for its employees. And we will feel the pinch about this because eventually those employees will need Medicare and Social Security and they will have never paid into the system and this only exacerbates our already looming health care and Social Security crisis.
Harris: One of the things that this text, “The Three-Trillion-Dollar War,” does extremely well is outline a plan that prevents this from happening again. It also speaks to some of the insufficiencies of the Constitution. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Bilmes: It certainly speaks to a series of limitations. We do go through, in our book, a whole chapter of changes, legal and regulatory changes that we think should be enacted to prevent this kind of thing from happening again because we have certainly seen that it has been possible for this war to be conducted in a way that, I think, very few Americans—whether they were in favor of the war initially or not—very few Americans would have wanted to see the war conducted in the manner in which it has been.
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Bilmes: Thank you.
Harris: For Linda Bilmes, this is James Harris, and this is Truthdig.
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