Republican Congressional leaders are continuing their witch-hunt
against ACORN, the grassroots community group dedicated to helping poor
and working class people. This campaign now unfortunately has gained
bi-partisan legislative support in the form of the Defund ACORN Act of 2009 which has now passed the House and Senate. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post has pointed out, the legislation "could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex:"
The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly
that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with
breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws,
campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal
or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors
or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.
According to the Project on Oversight and Government Reform, this legislation could potentially eliminate a virtual Who's Who of war contractors including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and KBR to other corporations such as AT&T, FedEx and Dell.
Perhaps one of the most jarring comparisons here is the fact that
ACORN is now being attacked while the Obama administration continues to
contract with Blackwater, the favorite mercenary company of the Bush
administration, which is headed by Erik Prince, who was a major donor
to Republican causes and campaigns, including those of some of the
Defund ACORN bill's sponsors, including Indiana Republican Mike Pence,
one of the key figures in hunting down Van Jones. Prince, of course, was recently described by a former employee
as a man who "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with
eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that
Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi
At present Blackwater has a $217 million security contract through
the State Department in Iraq which was just extended by the Obama
administration indefinitely. It holds a $210 million State Department
"security" contract in Afghanistan that runs through 2011 and another
multi-million dollar contract with the Defense Department for
"training" in Kabul. All of this is on top of Blackwater's clandestine
work for the CIA, including continued work on the drone bombing
campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This also does not take into
account Blackwater's lucrative domestic work training law enforcement
and military forces inside the US at the company's compounds in North
Carolina, California and Illinois, nor the private "security" work it
does for entities like the International Republican Institute, nor the
work it does in training "Faith Based Organizations." It also does not
include the contracts doled out to Erik Prince's private CIA called
Total Intelligence Solutions, which works for foreign governments and
Fortune 500 corporations.
Then there is this fact: Blackwater was paid over $73 million for
its federally-funded, no bid-security contracts with the Department of
Homeland Security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, billing
taxpayers $950 per man per day, a spending decision the Bush
administration called "the best value to the government." ACORN,
meanwhile, only helped poor people who were suffering as a result of
the government's total and complete failure to respond to Katrina.
Meanwhile, a recent federal audit of Blackwater, compiled by the
State Department and the Special Inspector General for Iraq
Reconstruction, suggests the company may have to repay some $55 million
to the government for allegedly failing to meet the terms of just one
federal contract in Iraq, which, it is important to note, is $2 million
more than the total money allotted by the federal government to ACORN
over the past 15 years. (The company also cannot account for one federally funded "deep fat fryer" in Iraq, according to the audit).
Overall, Blackwater has raked in well over $1 billion since 2003 in
security contracts alone-all of which were kicked off by a fat no-bid
contract to guard L Paul Bremer. Let's also remember that Blackwater
was estimated in Congressional hearings in 2007 to earn some 90% of its
revenue from the federal government and Prince refused to disclose his
salary, but said it was over $1 million. Blackwater has been or is
being investigated by the US Congress, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco
and Firearms, the Justice Department and the IRS, among other agencies,
for a range of issues from arms smuggling to manslaughter to tax
evasion. One of its operatives pleaded guilty to killing an innocent,
unarmed Iraqi civilian, while five others have been indicted on
manslaughter and other charges over the 2007 Nisour Square massacre
during which 17 Iraqi civilians were gunned down. The company is also
facing a slew of civil lawsuits alleging war crimes and extrajudicial
killings in Iraq.
Here is a question for those Democratic lawmakers that voted in
support of the Defund ACORN Act: How do you justify making this a major
league legislative priority while Blackwater continues to be armed and
dangerous across the globe on the US government payroll? Where is the
Defund Blackwater Act?
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