Kelly Hayes-Raitt is a political consultant specializing in fundraising, public relations and community organizing for campaigns and non-profit organizations. She traveled to Iraq in February and July and has been addressing audiences throughout California about the people she met. She was recently elected as chair of EPIC the Education for Peace in Iraq Center. To schedule a presentation, please call (310) 581-4421 or e-mail C2CCampaigns@aol.com. Her photos may be viewed at www.CommunityCampaigns.com/Iraq.
On Novemeber 7, 2003, She writes:
Friends, news from and about Iraq this week has been bleak: Attacks against our troops continue and escalate, the number of Iraqi men, women and children killed nears 10,000 (see www.IraqBodyCount.org) and Congress approved President Bush's $87 billion request -- after a conference committee removed nearly every aspect of accountability added by the Senate.
November 1st marked 6 months that the U.S. has occupied Iraq; November 2nd marked the 365-day countdown to next year's presidential election. EVERY DAY COUNTS. We now have less than a year to replace George Bush.
Here's one bright bit of news: Remember the Bechtel meeting I attended in Baghdad? (It's reprinted below.) I had an opportunity to relay that encounter to Rep. Henry Waxman's staff, who included it in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget questioning the President's $87 billion budget request. A few days later, the LA Times included a reference to my experience -- The White House was forced to respond!
I appreciate your help in getting this info out to as many people as possible: Please feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone you think would like to receive my periodic updates. Please call us if you have ideas of places where I can speak -- I'm reaching hundreds of people every month. Just this week alone, over 500 people in LA, San Luis Obispo, Palm Springs, LA, San Bernardino and Grass Valley will have heard my presentation!
We're scheduling speaking tours in Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo (around January 24), Phoenix (in February) and Grass Valley (TBA). Please let me know if you have any contacts for audiences in those communities. My speaking schedule is pasted below.
During this dispiriting time, thank you for your continued efforts for peace and for your continued support of my work....Support is the best gift we can give each other.
Coast-to-Coast Community Campaigns
Political Communication & Organizing
3101 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 103
Santa Monica, CA 90405
ph: (310) 581-4421
fax: (310) 581-4431
Kelly Hayes-Raitt (310) 581-4421 C2CCampaigns@aol.com
"Face-to-Face with the Women of Iraq"
Kelly Hayes-Raitt just returned from her second trip to Iraq, where she found some of the children and women who touched her so deeply during her first visit in February. She also saw firsthand the impact of the bombings and invasion on innocent peoples lives, homes and hearts. The trip revealed much devastation and much inspiration.
She will be speaking about the people she met and remet in Baghdad, Hillah, Babylon, Fallouja, Basra and Umm Qasr. Since February, Kelly has addressed over 100 audiences, including religious congregations, state womens conferences, school classes, community clubs, large peace rallies and small neighborhood meetings. If you would like her to address your group, please call (310) 581-4421 or e-mail C2CCampaigns@aol.com.
Shortly, new photos will be posted at www.CommunityCampaigns.com/Iraq. She is also a speaker featured by the national Iraq Speakers Bureau, www.iraqspeakers.org/speakers.htm.
America's Iraq Rebuilding Shuts Out Iraqis
by Kelly Hayes-Raitt
08/19/03, BAGHDAD While in Baghdad in July, I sneaked into a Bechtel meeting. I had heard that the American company held regular, public briefings for Iraqis interested in bidding for rebuilding contracts. As I found my way to room 202 of the Sheraton Hotel, however, I was in fact entering a private, non-descript suite with the only "no smoking" sign I saw in Iraq.
I slipped in as if I were an invited VIP guest, smiling confidently to the burly Iraqi who sat bouncer-like behind an imposing desk. From my seat on the couch, I had a clear view of Randy Jackson, of Dallas, Texas, whose represented Bechtel in choosing which Iraqis received contracts to rebuild the damage at the airport, such as fences that American tanks had demolished.
I watched team after team of Iraqi men (and one woman) wander in with their 10-page application form completed (in English). Once granted an audience with Mr. Jackson, they were asked questions such as: "How many employees do you have?" "How old is your equipment?" "Do you have insurance?"
This last question was a stopper. Before this last war, there were six insurance companies in Iraq, the largest of which were run by Saddam Husseins government. They offered basic auto and casualty insurance, workers compensation and liability insurance with maximum policies of either 200 million or 150 million dinars (about $100,000 or $60,000, respectively). As of July, only one insurance company was operating. The others had been shut down or looted.
"But the government was our insurance," said one Iraqi, shrugging his shoulders.
To get a job rebuilding their country, Iraqis are required by Bechtel to carry three types of insurance:
-- $2 million minimum indemnification insurance, which costs up to 10% of the contracts cost, covers misfortunes such as equipment loss and injured workers. The $2 million minimum policy is 20 times Iraqis previous insurance policies maximum, and far exceeds Iraqis ability to afford it, or the local insurance companies ability to underwrite it.
-- Bid securities insurance, where banks provide a guarantee that the company will not withdraw its bid. The Iraqi contractor bidding on the project must provide a cashiers or certified check for 10% of the projected amount of the project. As of July, 43 of the 47 banks were at some level of operation, but it was unclear if they had the capacity to issue bonds. The 10% bond may be held for the duration of the contract.
-- Performance insurance guarantees that the job is completed. It, too, can cost 10% of the projected cost of the contract.
Although Iraqis are used to advance payments, Bechtel is not providing any up-front money. So, Iraqis hoping to participate in the rebuilding of their country have to advance money for materials, labor, insurance policies and bonds at a time when they are emerging from 50% unemployment, three wars and 12 years of sanctions. On top of it all, Iraqi contractors must read and agree to the Federal Acquisition regulations a 3,000-page document written in English.
"These are American tax dollars," Randy Jackson said to a despondent Iraqi. "Americans dont want to pay for insurance; they want to pay for rebuilding."
"Where do I get insurance?" asked the Iraqi.
"If you dont have insurance, you cant get a contract with Bechtel," boomed the imposing Iraqi behind the desk.
"Dont worry, there will be American insurance companies coming in to sell you insurance," Randy Jackson offered. "Two companies like yourself have already obtained insurance from American companies. We have a BIG Bechtel managing team to work with you."
As I watched the contractor slowly rise from his chair, I realized that Iraqis must now buy insurance from American companies in order to work for an American company to rebuild the airport that the Americans bombed. It occurred to me that this war is a warped WPA program for well-connected American companies.
While reviewing the application of one Iraqi team, Randy Jackson brightened and said, "Id like to work with you. If we cant get something going here, then maybe (we can) in Iran."