The scandals of Halliburton and other companies profiteering at taxpayer expense -- whether in Iraq or the Gulf Coast -- has always been a top issue for us at Facing South, since many of the biggest contractors are based in the region.

But what should be done about it? Sara Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies has a great editorial in the St. Louis Dispatch about the need for a new "Truman Commission" to investigate corporate fraud and abuse, using the occasion of Rumseld's speech at the Truman Library:

In choosing the Truman Library in Independence as the place for a major speech today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld no doubt hopes some of the World War II victor's sheen will rub off on him.

One important part of former President Harry S Truman's legacy that Rumsfeld seems unlikely to highlight is his crusade against war profiteering. As a U.S. senator in 1941, Truman drove thousands of miles around the country going from one defense plant to another documenting waste and fraud. He then headed the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program -- the Truman committee, for short. The process saved American taxpayers $15 billion (in 1940s dollars). And by uncovering faulty military equipment, he prevented the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of U.S. soldiers.

Contemporary military auditors have discovered corruption no less shocking than that which Truman observed on his muck-raking roadtrip, but the Bush administration has remained virtually silent on the subject. In 2005 alone, defense contracts totaled more than $270 billion, and the White House recently requested an additional $72 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given these vast sums, greater oversight is needed.

Anderson also points to a little-known chapter in Rumsfeld's history, which Southern Exposure wrote about in 2003 -- his days as an Illinois Representative, when he zealously attacked war profiteering in the Vietnam era:

As a Republican congressman from Illinois in 1966, Rumsfeld raised questions about the 30-year association between Halliburton's chairman and then-president Lyndon Johnson. "Why this huge contract has not been and is not now being adequately audited is beyond me," Rumsfeld said. "The potential for waste and profiteering under such a contract is substantial."

Indeed. So why are Rumsfeld and the Pentagon turning a blind eye to Halliburton today?