Released January 29, 2004
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: -- Press Contact: Enver Masud

Exploiting Iraq: $64 Lunch, $125,000 Truck Driver

by Enver Masud

Sixty-four dollars for lunch, $125,000 for a truck driver; that's just a small fraction of what our imperial venture in Iraq is costing U.S. taxpayers.

A trusted source, recently on leave from an assignment in Iraq, reports that he and others working for the U.S. can get their meals in cafeterias being run for the U.S. occupation forces. "Just show your U.S. issued identification card, and help yourself to a $64 breakfast, lunch, or dinner," he said.

The high prices for meals is due to their being flown in from Kuwait, reports our source.

Deliveries by truck from Kuwait may not be much cheaper.

Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist from Alaska, reporting from Iraq, describes a "convoy of 10 Kuwaiti fuel trucks . . . passes us. They are escorted by two Humvees. Each truck has a sign on it that says, 'KBR owned asset'. Another of the trucks pulling a tank of petrol has a sign on it that says, 'First Kuwaiti Construction Company'."

He's told that "these truck drivers started out making $125,000 per year. They won't hire Iraqis because they don't trust them."

To put these numbers in perspective, members of the new Iraqi army were being paid $60 a month by the U.S. last December (CNN, December 13, 2003). The U.S. settled 176 negligence and wrongful death claims filed against American soldiers for a total of $106,000 or $600 each.

"The US army estimates that of the $87 billion earmarked this year for the broader Iraqi campaign, including central Asia and Afghanistan, one third of that, nearly $30 billion, will be spent on contracts to private companies" (Guardian).

"A report in 1998 by the United Nations Development Programme estimated the annual cost to achieve universal access to a number of basic social services in all developing countries: $9 billion would provide water and sanitation for all; $12 billion would cover reproductive health for all women; $13 billion would give every person on earth basic health and nutrition; and $6 billion would provide basic education for all."

The gross national income (GNI) per capita of 64 countries is $735 or less; that of 54 countries is $736 to $2,935; that of 34 countries is $2,936 to $9,075 according to the World Bank.

Forty-five percent of the world's population of 6.3 billion, or 2.8 billion human beings, subsists on two dollars or less per day, and 1.1 billion on less than a dollar per day.

Enver Masud, "An open letter to the people of Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, April 23, 2003

Enver Masud, "New constitution a pretext for exploiting Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, September 16, 2003

Ian Traynor, "The Privatization of War," The Guardian (UK), December 10, 2003

"Who is winning work in Iraq and Afghanistan?," AME Info, March 2, 2004

Chris Tomlinson, "U.S. Troops 'Living Large' in Iraq," Associated Press, March 12, 2004

[Earlier this week Judicial Watch released a Pentagon e-mail concerning the KBR contract award stating: "We anticipate no issue; since action has been coordinated w VP's office."--"PENTAGON JUSTIFICATION FOR KBR SOLE SOURCE CONTRACT," Judicial Watch , June 3, 2003]

Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ken Silverstein, "Advocates of War Now Profit From Iraq's Reconstruction," Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2004

[At least $100 billion already has been spent or is in the pipeline for the now 16-month-old campaign, . . .

Lawmakers and others have long criticized the snail's pace at which occupation officials spent more than $18 billion Congress approved for reconstruction last year. To date only $458 million has been spent--Pauline Jelinek, "Congress Debates $100 Billion Iraq Cost," Associated Press, July 23, 2004]

[U.S. civilian authorities in Baghdad failed to keep good track of nearly $1 billion in Iraqi money spent for reconstruction projects and can't produce records to show whether they got some services and products they paid for, anew audit concludes.--Matt Kelley, "U.S. Lacks Records for Iraq Spending," Associated Press, July 29, 2004]

[$15m - Amount of a contract awarded to an American firm to build a cement factory in Iraq.

$80,000 - Amount an Iraqi firm spent (using Saddam's confiscated funds) to build the same factory, after delays prevented the American firm from starting it.--Graydon Carter, "Bush by numbers: Four years of double standards," Independent, September 3, 2004]

[A common thread runs through these cases and other KBR scandals in Iraq, from allegations the firm failed to protect employees sexually assaulted by co-workers to findings that it charged $45 per can of soda--David Jackson and Jason Grotto, "Inside the world of war profiteers: From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S.," Chicago Tribune, February 21, 2008]

Copyright © 2004 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and web address ( are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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