WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING - Graft In Iraq In Billions

(02/25/2009)

FAVORED AMERICAN OUTFITS GOT THEIR STIMULUS PACKAGE

COMMENT By Bob Weaver

The news story about hundreds of tons of cash - mostly $100 bills in shrink-wrapped packets - faded quickly from media outlets.

The federal government did admit that billions were squandered recklessly in Iraq by Bush administration appointees and U.S. military officers in a clumsy attempt to shore up Iraq's economy after the U.S. invasion.

A 2007 congressional investigation found that $12 billion - weighing 363 tons - had been flown in U.S. military cargo planes to Baghdad in 2003 and 2004.

Later, $9 billion of it could not be accounted for.

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, asked.

The money was mostly Iraqi government funds that had been frozen in the United States and held in Federal Reserve vaults, until it was flown to the U.S.-operated Coalition Provisional Authority headed by Paul Bremer.

News outlets barely reported that over 30 U.S. private contractors and military officers have been convicted.

Army Maj. John Cockerham and his wife pleaded guilty to taking $10 million in bribes.

One contracting official committed suicide in 2006 a day after confessing that she took $225,000 in bribes to rig bids for a crooked U.S. firm that failed to build warehouses it was paid to build.

Vanity Fair magazine revealed that several Republican-connected U.S. firms that got no-bid contracts in Iraq were little more than false fronts, with no experts or employees to carry out the Iraq work.

No reporting of this by national media.

One of them had a Bahamas post office box also used in the $200 million Evergreen Security fraud.

The New York Times, which has reported some of the incidents in its' back pages, reported that two U.S. colonels - Anthony Bell and Ronald Hirtle - are under investigation, and their personal bank records have been subpoenaed.

Evidence in that case was given by Dale Stoffel, an American arms dealer, who told investigators that "tens of thousands of dollars" in bribe money was hidden in pizza boxes and taken to recipients' homes like pizza deliveries.

Other payoffs were made in paper sacks left in "dead drops."

Stoffel was given immunity to testify - but he and a British colleague were killed by machine gun fire near Baghdad in 2004.

A grotesque mess, while you were sleeping.

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