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Posted on: July 10th, 2015 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

Pay Any Price, by James Risen

James Risen’s book reports on little known and suppressed stories of the “war on terror.” Throughout history, those in power usually control the story. With his reporting, Risen offers us an alternative to the narratives of the government, an alternative about abuses of power and the motivation of greed.

The stories offer answers to many questions such as why did the Bush Administration throw out any notion of using the American legal system to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Who has cashed in from this decision? Why is the truth that torture was a direct result of official government policy suppressed?   Why have both the Bush and the Obama administrations prosecuted whistleblowers and leakers so rigorously? Why are there so few incentives to end the war? How has the emphasis on secrecy promoted compartmentalization that conceals illegality? Risen puts the questions in front of us and then with careful, sometimes laborious, detail uncovers facts and lets the reader draw his own conclusions.

Just after 9/11 but before we invaded Iraq, an open-ended “sweetheart” contract called LOGCAP, the army’s main field support program, was awarded to KBR. While the country was still in peacetime mode, no one gave much thought to the contract’s specifications. KBR performed the traditional supply and rear echelon work of the army. Under the terms of their contract, they were reimbursed for all costs associated with the work as well as bonus payments. In the chaos of the invasion and the immediate needs, KBR was allowed to do the work and submit the paperwork and billing later. KBR never provided the army with an original cost estimate and, therefore, could claim it was owed any amount. Their profits have been staggering. Risen reminds us that KBR was a spin off from Halliburton, the Texas based oil services company run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president. We can draw our own conclusions.

There have been brave citizens who have tried to hold the government accountable . Our government has retaliated with ruthless suppression, ruining the life and health of many. Through all this America has become accustomed to a permanent state of war. It is not enjoyable to look into a moral abyss, but if we don’t acknowledge what has happened and is happening, how can we change?

This is the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War. The Pentagon planned for a national official commemoration. They were seemingly surprised by the push-back that came from Vietnam veterans themselves. The Veterans groups are resisting a false narrative and questioning a plan to celebrate the start of the war that was a debacle. It’s time to confront our past with shame & sorrow. That is why we need to remember the truth of what happened in Vietnam and to learn the truth about what is happening now in our endless wars.  Risen’s book can start us on that path.

Review by Dorothy Sampson

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