Provision to shed light on sole-source Iraq rebuilding contracts is essentialAll public expenditures are not equivalent. If you are running a human resources program or a public school, your budget will be cross examined, and you will likely be told you are spending too much. If you are running a military program or rebuilding a foreign nation, the sky's the limit, with no questions asked.

Now that the Bush administration has indicated it will request an additional $87 billion to rebuild and occupy Iraq, it is time to expose this glaring contradiction one more time.

Sen. Ron Wyden is fortunately renewing his objections to the sole-source contracts with the Bechtel Corp. and the Halliburton Co. Wyden said last Thursday that, "The U.S. has an obligation now to rebuild Iraq - but at a time when American schools are closing early, and American roads and bridges are crumbling from neglect, the American people deserve to have their money spent as judiciously as possible."

The Defense Appropriations Bill that is now being negotiated contains a provision inserted by Wyden that requires the administration to explain why it sent huge contracts to Bechtel and Halliburton without allowing open and competitive bidding.

The Bush administration is foolish if it fails to hear the dark whisperings about Bechtel and Halliburton making big money on the backs of the U.S. military. Sen. Wyden's provision is absolutely essential if the president wants to maintain popular support for the necessary work in Iraq.


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