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Iraqis To Bush - Where Did All Our Money Go?

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I have come to the conclusion that even if I live to be 100, I will never be able to track down every Bush-connected profiteer involved in this phony war on terror scheme. According to a report released in March 2005, by Transparency International (TI), an international organization that focuses on matters of corruption, Iraq could become "the biggest corruption scandal in history."

"I can see all sorts of levels of corruption in Iraq," report contributor Reinoud Leenders told the Christian Science Monitor, "starting from petty officials asking for bribes to process a passport, way up to contractors delivering shoddy work and the kind of high-level corruption involving ministers and high officials handing out contracts to their friends and clients."

One of the top ten crooks, has got to be Ahmed Chalabi. A former banker in Jordon, Chalabi was forced to flee the country in 1989 before he could be arrested for his involvement in a $200 million financial scam. He was later tried and found guilty in his absence, and sentenced to 22 years in prison for more than 30 charges of theft, embezzlement, misuse of depositor funds, and currency speculation.

However, a little criminal history obviously didn't bother the Bush gang, because Chalabi was one of the first Iraqis flown into Iraq by the Pentagon during the 2003 invasion, supposedly so he could solidify his political base, which pretty much has proved to be non-existent.

By now, I cannot believe that anyone could possibly doubt Chalabi's role in the plot to take over Iraq. He was very much in the loop from day one, according to a March 17, 2005, report by BBC's Newsnight which said, "the Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil." Insiders told Newsnight that the planning began "within weeks" of Bush taking office.

An Iraqi-born oil industry consultant, Falah Aljibury, told Newsnight that he took part in secret meetings in California, Washington and the Middle East. He described a State Department plan for a forced coup d'etat. Aljibury said that he had even interviewed potential successors for Saddam on behalf of the Bush administration.

However, "The industry-favored plan was pushed aside by yet another secret plan," wrote Newnight, "drafted just before the invasion in 2003, which called for the sell-off of all of Iraq's oil fields."

The sell-off plan was given the OK at a secret meeting headed by none other that Ahmed Chalabi, shortly after the invasion of Baghdad, according to Robert Ebel, a former Energy and CIA oil analyst. He attended the London meeting at the request of the State Department, Ebel told Newsnight.

Falah Aljibury contends that it was the plan to sell off Iraq's oil, which ultimately led to the insurgency and attacks on US occupying forces. "We saw an increase in the bombing of oil facilities, pipelines, built on the premise that privatization is coming," he reported.

Of course it probably didn't help matters when the Iraqis were forced to watch as Halliburton's fortunes increased with money from the Development Fund for Iraq, through the award of 5 no-bid contracts, by the Coalition Provisional Authority, to the tune of $222 million, $325 million, $180 million, and a total of $194 million for the last two, which I just happened to find listed back in the Appendix to a July 28, 2004, report by the CPA Inspector General, titled "Comptroller Cash Management Controls over the Development Fund for Iraq."

The CPA Office of the Inspector General (CPA-IG) was established by Congress on November 6, 2003, to serve as “as an independent, objective evaluator of the operations and activities of the CPA,” according to the official web site. The CPA-IG reported directly to Administrator Paul Bremer, although it had independent authority to conduct audits and investigations without the Administrator’s approval.

A report in January 2005, by CPA Inspector General, Stuart Bowen, concluded that occupation authorities accounted poorly for $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds. "The CPA did not implement adequate financial controls," Bowen said.

That was definitely an understatement. A former CPA senior adviser, Franklin Willis, compared Iraq to the "Wild West," saying he delivered one $2 million payment to one company, Custer Battles, in bricks of cash.

"We called Mike Battles in and said, 'Bring a bag'," Willis said in testimony before Congress in February 2005.

Custer was another piece of work. Two former employees turned whistleblowers filed a law suit against the company with a complaint that said among other things, that Custer Battles double-billed for salaries and repainted the Iraqi Airways forklifts they found at the Baghdad airport, which Custer was hired to secure, and then leased them back to the US government. The two former employees, Pete Baldwin and Robert Isakson, claim Custer swindled the CPA out of about $50 million.

Bush was quick to criticize the UN over millions of dollars stolen from the Oil-for-Food Program under Saddam. But the CPA, as the successor to Oil-for-Food Program, aka Development Fund for Iraq, involves the swindling of billions of dollars.

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Evelyn Pringle is an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.
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