Remember how Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson promised full transparency in spending the $700 billion bailout money? And remember how bailout opponents predicted that the failure to mandate such transparency would allow all sorts of Halliburton-style shenanigans? From the looks of the first private contracts issued by the Treasury Department, it looks like the bailout opponents were correct.
As flagged by BailoutSleuth.com, Paulson is blacking out the sections of government contracts that spell out how much private firms will be paid for their services in administering taxpayer money. Here's a page from the compensation part of a contract with Bank of New York, which has been hired to do some of the bookkeeping (because, of course, the Bush administration is happy to privatize that function):
And here's a page from the compensation part of a Treasury contract with law firm Simpson Thatcher Bartlett - a firm being hired to provide "legal advice" to the government:
Think these are doctored images? Check them out yourself on Treasury's website - the first contract is here (blacked out section on page 25 of the PDF) and the second contract is here (blacked out section on page 5 of the PDF).
So, just to review - within just a few weeks of the bailout passing, our government is blacking out the parts of public contracts that explain how much taxpayer cash private contractors are going to be paid. Perhaps this is what Paulson meant when he promised transparency - by posting these blacked out contracts on the Treasury website, the government is being transparent about exactly where it is being secretive. But I don't think that definition of transparency really flies, do you?
Of course, I wish I was surprised about this - but one of the major reasons I was opposed to this bailout from the beginning was because (as I and others repeatedly wrote) there is no real transparency at all. Now we know what "no transparency at all" really means.
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