War in Afghanistan and Iraq

Published — September 2, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Windfalls of War: A decade of keeping government spending accountable

United Flight 175 collides with south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Chao Soi Cheong/AP


UPDATED 10/7/11: Ten years ago, American bombs rained down on Afghanistan, the first thrust of revenge for the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

The United States went to war to find and kill terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, who had been given refuge by Afghanistan’s Taliban leadership. The Taliban fell quickly; it took another 10 years to kill bin Laden. And still the war drones on.

More than 6,000 soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. The wars cost taxpayers $2 billion a week. The Pentagon has awarded $206 billion in contracts to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting has concluded that up to $60 billion spent on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been lost to waste, fraud and abuse.

“The need for reform is urgent,” the commission report said. “Contractors’ support…has been unnecessarily costly, and has been plagued by high levels of waste and fraud.”

Over the last decade, the Center for Public Integrity and its website iWatch News have kept a watchdog’s eye on the Bush administration and now the Obama administration. What follows is a compendium of the Center’s best work on the war.

Windfalls of War III (2011)

Pentagon’s no-bid contracts triple in 10 years of war
Over a decade of war, the Pentagon has awarded lucrative military contracts without competitive bidding, and the amount has increased from $50 billion in 2001 to $140 billion in 2010.

KBR: The Pentagon’s concierge
KBR, formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root, won the first “concierge” contract for an array of services in Iraq and Afghanistan and parlayed it into a sole-source $37 billion bonanza

One-stop shopping for helicopters…made in Russia
Pentagon contracts to Russian helicopter-makers confound US companies. Pentagon says Afghan and Iraqi pilots are more familiar with Russian choppers.

Taxpayers get hammered by Pentagon’s attempts to do “one-stop shopping”
The air tanker fight shows how competition among defense contractors can drive down the cost of expensive new weapons systems, to the benefit of taxpayers. The Pentagon’s competed contracts fell to 55 percent in the first half of 2011.

Pentagon’s record of competitive contracts is poor compared to other agencies
Over the past 10 years, the Pentagon has competed about 60 percent of its contract dollars, which stands in stark contrast to other large federal agencies. State Department competed 75 percent; Energy competed 94 percent; Homeland Security 77 percent.

JIEDDO: The Manhattan Project that bombed
After spending $21 billion, Pentagon still doesn’t have a high-tech method to detect or destroy IEDs from a safe distance.

Plus: Watch author Sharon Weinburger discuss her no-bid contractor series on DemocracyNow.

The Iraq War Card (2008)

False pretenses
Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, making more than 900 false statements

: Key false statements by top Bush administration officials

Windfalls of War II (2007)

Baghdad Bonanza
KBR, the global engineering and construction giant, won more than nine times more contract money than the second highest contractor, DynCorps, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

Plus: The top 100 recipients of Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction funds.

Inside the Contracting World (2004)

Winning contractors
More than 150 American companies have received contracts worth up to $48.7 billion for work in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the latest update of the Center for Public Integrity’s Windfalls of War project.

Inside a war-time contract
Over a period of six months, the contracted value of one Iraqi task order of Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root grew by a multiple of 36 and was modified 21 times, according to previously classified documents.

Halliburton contracts balloon
Despite being under an investigative cloud, Cheney’s former employer gets $4.3 billion in 2003.

Windfalls of War I (2003)

Contractors reap the windfalls of war
More than 70 contractors have won up to $8 billion for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies donated more than $500,000 to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush.

Contracts via Kabul and Baghdad provisional authorities
Three U.S. companies—banking powerhouse J.P. Morgan Chase, oil giant Chevron/Texaco and global telecommunications provider MCI—have won contracts from the provisional governments in Kabul and Baghdad.

Read more in National Security

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