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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Iraq: plunder and deceit

A couple of quite interesting Iraq-related stories today at BBC:

One is a former National Guard who deserted after being sent to Iraq and realizing that it wasn't what he had signed for: to defend his country in case of foreign invasion.


In 2002, I joined the Indiana National Guard. When I joined, I was told I would only be in combat if there were troops occupying the United States.

I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane. I had no conception I would be deployed to fight on foreign shores.

But in 2005, I was deployed with my unit to Camp Anaconda near Balad, Iraq. My job in Iraq was in military intelligence.

Through this job I had access to a lot of information about what was happening on the ground in Iraq. I realised innocent people were being killed unjustly and I tried to quit the military while in Iraq. My commander told me I was stressed out and needed R&R, because I was doing a job I was not trained to do.

I went home on leave and said I was not coming back. I was told desertion is punishable by death. I was Absent Without Leave (AWOL) in America for eight months.

I searched the internet and found out about US war resisters in Canada. I arrived in Toronto two weeks later.


The other is about a number of private contractors who got the money and run. And how Bush and gang are covering them up.

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.

For the first time, the extent to which some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding has been researched by the BBC's Panorama using US and Iraqi government sources.

A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.

The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.

While George Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted.

To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq.

The president's Democrat opponents are keeping up the pressure over war profiteering in Iraq.

Henry Waxman who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said: "The money that's gone into waste, fraud and abuse under these contracts is just so outrageous, its egregious.

"It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history."

In the run-up to the invasion one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth seven billion that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company, which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president.

Unusually only Halliburton got to bid - and won.

The search for the missing billions also led the programme to a house in Acton in West London where Hazem Shalaan lived until he was appointed to the new Iraqi government as minister of defence in 2004.

He and his associates siphoned an estimated $1.2 billion out of the ministry.

They bought old military equipment from Poland but claimed for top class weapons.

Meanwhile they diverted money into their own accounts.

Judge Radhi al-Radhi of Iraq's Commission for Public Integrity investigated.

He said: "I believe these people are criminals.

"They failed to rebuild the Ministry of Defence , and as a result the violence and the bloodshed went on and on - the murder of Iraqis and foreigners continues and they bear responsibility."

Mr Shalaan was sentenced to two jail terms but he fled the country.

He said he was innocent and that it was all a plot against him by pro-Iranian MPs in the government.

There is an Interpol arrest out for him but he is on the run - using a private jet to move around the globe.

He stills owns commercial properties in the Marble Arch area of London.

Notice that this story is probably illegal in the territory of the USA. So if you are there or have a US passport, please hand yourself to the police after reading this, as you are probably guilty of "aiding terrorists" just by knowing about this abuse. Enjoy your tropical vacations in Guantanamo.


terryt said...

Several things we can be sure of. Iraq was certainly not invaded to bring democracy and freedom to the people. Nor was it invaded to find and destroy any weapons of mass destruction, biological or nuclear. Nor because Sadam was aiding terrorists or because terrorists were finding sanctuary there.

So why are journalists in the USA so reluctant to get the President to say exactly why he gave the order to invade? Or are they not allowed to ask?

Maju said...

So why are journalists in the USA so reluctant to get the President to say exactly why he gave the order to invade? Or are they not allowed to ask?

Just read any (non-linguistic) book of Chomsky. The media is dependent on corporations, corporations that have shadowy interests and often rule the governments and the media behind the screen of democracy. That's why it's important to read news critically, in democracy as much as under a dictatorship. But most people under democracy get a false feeling of transparency and tend to lose that critical mindset.

Then there are also powerful interest groups like the Israel Lobby (the "Zionist International"). For this case it's maybe better to read James Petras, as for Chomsky the IL is just like any other lobby, while for Petras it's a super-powerful political and economical machinery that manipulates US foreign policy (particularly).

Maju said...

Additionally, I think that the Fundamentalist danger is largely a West-created "perfect enemy" for the post-Cold-War international reality. It's such a pathetically medievalist ideology that can be kept alive just for the sake of having a foe that can justify any sort of intervention (direct or indirect) in the "Greater Middle East" without any danger that it could ever attract your own citizens into its ideology (this unlike Socialism or other modern ideologies).

Notice that, with the exception of Afghanistan, the USA (and allies) has never intervened (directly or indirectly) against any fundamentalist regime like Saudi Arabia or whatever, nor has supported the liberal opposition against the pseudo-moderate (i.e. friendly towards the USA and Israel) Fundamentalist tyrannies of countries like Egypt, Jordan or Morocco. Instead it chose to attack a secularist regime like Iraq.

There is much doublethink (to use Orwellian terminology) in what is going on in international politics. And Iraq is a very clear case.

terryt said...

Yes. The last few questions in my original post were actually rhetorical. I know exactly the reason. I mentioned to friends even before the Berlin wall came down that the US was already lining up its next target. It was more specifically the Central Asian and Caucasian Muslim regions at the time but it seems the people there saw the warning signs so the US had to shift focus and finance Muslim extremeism in Afghanistan.