14 December 2007

The Hypocrisy of our Senior Government Officials

I work in an office mixed with military and civilian contractors out here in Baghdad. A few months back, one of my civilian co-workers got a shipment of travel coffee mugs from their headquarters in DC. They are worth about $5 each and are nothing fancy. I asked for one, but the head of our cell, a Colonel, would not take one since it was a "conflict of interest" and could show favoritism and bias. Obviously, this is because contracts are awarded through a heavily regulated bidding process. Before you start calling LT Nixon a corporate shill, the rules are up to $50/year (I think...) in gifts a year to the military. The Colonel in question did the right thing as a matter of principle, because a lot of sleazy backdoor deals could result when companies vying for defense contracts start buying off those involved in the selection process. It's pretty intuitive logic for all public servants to understand.

But then I read this article in The London Times on Bush administration officials acting like Xerxes of Persia getting lavished with gifts:

The most extravagant gifts were inevitably from the Saudi Arabians. King Abdullah gave Mr Cheney the most expensive present on the list: a $55,000 18-carat white gold, ruby and diamond jewelery set. The King also gave Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, a white gold-and-diamond necklace, earrings, bracelet and ring, worth $20,000. Mr Bush's most expensive gift was an $11,000 Cartier Santos-Dumont watch - inside an $18,000 white gold case - from the Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra. He was toppled by the military in September 2006 and has since taken over Manchester City Football Club.

What the hell! Dick Cheney, also a public servant, gets all this crap from a country that produced the 9/11 hijackers, the majority of foreign fighters in Iraq, and a dismal human rights record. How is that not a "conflict of interest"? Just pointing out the hypocrisy. Maybe the Bush Administration, that got all these gifts from other nations, can hock them on the black market to fund our military for next year. Last I heard, they were still having some issues in DC on how to appropriate funds.

The future of the US Army if Washington can't figure out funding.


David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/14/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Gage said...

I thought you might like these two clips of Richard Dreyfuss talking about teaching civics and the true meaning of America.

If you like it, spread it around:



Anonymous said...

Thought you might be interested. Public officials do not keep these gifts. They are cataloged when they are received and are accounted for when they leave office. That's where the Clintons got in a bit of trouble, because some things hadn't been properly cataloged and they tried to take stuff with them when they left.

Anonymous said...

nice choice of photograph to compliment your post!

LT Nixon said...

Gage, gracias. I'm gonna have to put it on the backburner since my bandwidth is a little slow right now. Will check out the vids on R&R.

Anonymous, huh, did not know that. Now I feel like a dumbass. But the rant's posture remains as is, because I think it's sending the wrong messages when public servants accept extravagant gifts like Cheney did. Thanks!

I believe in life after Love said...

LT Nixon,
In the cover story in Stars and Stripes on 10 Dec. "Gifts fit for a King-or President" by Christine Simmons. This very discussion is cited. "recipients may not keep gifts from foreign officials that are worth more than $305"..."they are accepted, however, on behalf of the American people." Great blog Go Navy Beat Army

-"I believe in life after Love"