Unwilling to wait for bombs over Baghdad, Washington lobbyists kicked off the real Iraq war weeks ago. They've been quietly squaring off for the contracts to implement George Bush's one-year remake of Iraq, the squalid dictatorship, into Iraq, the gleaming democracy.
With the reconstruction roughly figured to run at least $20 billion a year for many years to come, this is a bonanza for the construction and allied industries.
Last week USAID asked five construction concerns to submit bids on an initial $900 million contract. Among them were three heavyweight players that collectively gave $2.8 million to presidential candidates over the last two election cycles. Two-thirds of that money went to Republicans, according to a report by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The three are:
Bechtel: The huge engineering firm employed top Reagan officials before they took office, including Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of State George Schultz, and CIA director William Casey. Bechtel gave $1.3 million in PAC and soft-money contributions. A German report claims Bechtel sold weapons to Iraq during the 1980s.
Kellogg, Brown & Root: A Halliburton subsidiary, KBR has an open-ended contract to provide logistical support to the U.S. military around the world, and reportedly is in line to put out flaming oil wells should Saddam set them afire. Halliburton was the second largest contributor, chipping in $709,000.
Fluor: This corporation gave $483,000 to pols. Kenneth Oscar, the firm's VP for strategy and government services, recently was acting assistant secretary of the army, which has a $35 billion procurement budget.
Additional reporting: Phoebe St John, Mosi Secret, and Joanna Khenkine
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