Folding FEMA into Homeland Security may have made it inevitable that the same mistakes were made in both places, whether we are battling insurgents or the weather. Vice President Cheney’s former corporation Halliburton has been put in charge of housing and feeding refugees from the storm, just as they feed and house US soldiers in Iraq. The private security company Blackwater, which has also worked in Iraq, has men patrolling the streets of New Orlenas openly carrying assault weapons. As they did in Iraq, the government is missing the chance to recruit loyal followers by giving these much-needed jobs to locals.

When Vice-President Cheney recently visited devastated New Orleans, he may have been there as more of an agent of Halliburton, rather than our government. Halliburton is also a corporate client of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, who was President Bush’s campaign manager. Another Allbaugh client, Shaw Group, has also begun doing recovery work in the area.

Halliburton has earned more than $9 billion in Iraq. Congress has appropriated more than $60 billion in emergency funding for recovery efforts in the wake of Katrina, and expects the cost to rise to over $100 billion.

Some pundits believe that there would never have been an insurrection in Iraq?or it wouldn’t have been so large?if we had given jobs to local companies and paid them in US dollars. It’s surprising that the Bush administration would miss this opportunity to recruit new voters to the Republican party in New Orleans, among people who usually vote Democratic.

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