Saturday, January 22, 2005

In Which Bush Friend's Pocket Did This Go?

$300 million, speciously intended for "weapons" the Iraqi army does not need, have vanished between Iraq and Lebanon somewhere. What a surprise. Which Friend of George did these funds end up with? Allawi? Chalabi? Someone on this side of the pond?

Earlier this month, according to Iraqi officials, $300 million in American bills was taken out of Iraq's Central Bank, put into boxes and quietly put on a charter jet bound for Lebanon.

The money was to be used to buy tanks and other weapons from international arms dealers, the officials say, as part of an accelerated effort to assemble an armored division for the fledgling Iraqi Army. But exactly where the money went, and to whom, and for precisely what, remains a mystery, at least to Iraqis who say they have been trying to find out.

The $300 million deal appears to have been arranged outside the American-designed financial controls intended to help Iraq - which defaulted on its external debt in the 1990's - legally import goods. By most accounts here, there was no public bidding for the arms contracts, nor was the deal approved by the entire 33-member Iraqi cabinet.

First of all, the reason for the mission is entirely phony and specious. The Iraqi military has plenty of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles and weapons that may require repairs and modernization, but which it is not necessary to replace. Why, after all, give the Iraqi military entirely new, modern weapons not necessary for defensive purposes...unless, of course, you have plans to use them in Iran or elsewhere. Well, wouldn't THAT be a surprise? Secondly, you don't trust bastards like this with cash. The Bushies claim it was the only way to legally buy the weapons. I don't believe that. We could have bought the weapons ourselves and given them to the Iraqi army. This is a deal that from day one was obviously intended to land $300 million in someone's pocket.

According to a senior Iraqi financial official with knowledge of the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, the $300 million was then transferred to the Warqa Bank, a private Iraqi financial institution with a capitalization of about $7 million. That bank, the Iraqi official said, does not have the ability to transfer money electronically to another account in another country. An equivalent amount of cash was then taken from the vault of the Central Bank of Iraq, taken to the airport, loaded on an airplane and sent to Lebanon.

"The government here knows it is coming to an end," the official said. "This is what governments do when they are coming to an end."

Now remember, this is not an abstract $300 million. This is YOUR money. You know, the money we don't have to feed the poor or create a national healthcare system or make sure social security is safe or to ensure that our troops have proper equipment and armor. This is your money gone down a rathole - gone into some Friend of George's Swiss bank account.

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