The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Saturday, February 28

pay out

From Reuters U.S. Pays Informant Reward for Saddam's Sons
The informant who helped lead the U.S. military to ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's two sons has been paid most of a $30 million reward for the tip-off, the State Department said on Saturday.
Brief mention of Armorgroup in an editorial Privatizing peace and security: A Hobbesian dilemma
[...] the British-American firm Armorgroup recently paid an ex-Special Forces soldier $150,000 a year to protect a senior member of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
Here's a group you should check out: Campaign to Stop the War Profiteers

Gee, even with a friend of Chalabi's on the board and William Cohen lobbying for them....the Nour contract is on hold--albeit temporarily--Losers' Protests Result in Halt to Iraq Contract
The Army said Thursday that it had halted work on a $327-million contract to equip the new Iraqi army after two losing bidders lodged formal protests against the deal.

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq awarded the contract last month to a U.S. consortium led by Nour USA, a Virginia-based company that the protesters say does not have sufficient experience and offered an unrealistically low bid.

Saturday, February 21

a new blog

Go and visit The Dreyfuss Report. Hosted by blog on Iraq and national security issues: The Dreyfuss Report. Written by veteran investigative reporter Bob Dreyfuss, TDR will offer readers the story behind daily headlines and Bush administration policies pursued in the name of homeland security.
Skip Instapundit in his blog links unless, of course, you really are into sheeple think.

bits and pieces

Lots of odds and ends to clean up from our inbox. This happens occasionally as our level of frustration at the sheer political nature of the contracts overwhelms us.

Chinese co 1st to win Iraq contract
A major Chinese telecom firm has won an over $5 million contract in post-war Iraq, despite facing "some resistance" from the US-led provincial authority, the state media reported on Tuesday.

After some six months of difficult negotiations, Zhongxing Telecom Co has recently signed a contract with Iraqi Ministry of Communication to supply telecommunications equipment to Iraq, Xinhua news agency reported.
For the privelege of being bombed, Iraqis might have to eat the rice Americans choose. Some Congressional members want Iraq rice market restricted to coalition members
Congressional members from rice-producing states are urging the Bush administration to restrict rice contracts for Iraq to nations supportive of the U.S.-led war and rebuilding.

More than 20 members of Congress have signed a letter to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, saying that policy on providing food to Iraq should follow the same guidelines as the Coalition Provisional Authority policy limiting reconstruction contracts to firms from nations "that have sacrificed and invested in the coalition effort to free Iraq."

The letter notes that in the 1980s, the U.S. exported up to 500,000 tons of rice a year to Iraq, but sanctions imposed in 1991 cut U.S. suppliers off from that market. The move allowed Vietnam, a nation not participating in the coalition, to become Iraq's major supplier along with Thailand.
Contract award up at Defense Link:
Al-Hashimite Co., Baghdad, Iraq, was awarded on Feb. 18, 2004, a $10,332,000 firm-fixed-price contract for 25,200 Level III body armor vests and ceramic plate sets for the Iraq Civil Defense Corps.  Work will be performed in the United Kingdom and is expected to be completed by June 25, 2004.  Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  There were an unknown number of bids solicited via the World Wide Web on Nov. 28, 2003, and 59 bids were received.  The Coalition Provisional Authority Contracting Activity, Baghdad, Iraq, is the contracting activity (W914NS-04-C-0100)
Play catch up with Erinys, charged with training "14,500 guards to watch over 263 oil facilities and 7,000 miles of pipeline." But remember, they are not from South Africa --who is not a member of the Coalition of the Willing. Erinys is a British firm now. British Firm Lays Groundwork for Iraqi Oil Security


Based on a report from Iraq Revenue Watch, an article in the Boston Globe, Iraqis said to OK new airline
The Iraqi interim government, in a backroom no-bid deal, has sold much of the country's air industry to a Jordanian firm and a prominent Iraqi family, according to a watchdog group.

A contract for the creation of a new Iraqi airline and related services was negotiated and signed in December without the knowledge of US authorities in Iraq, according to a report by New York-based Iraq Revenue Watch. Such a transaction could intensify suspicion in Iraq that postwar reconstruction is being controlled by a handful of large foreign companies and prominent Iraqi clans that have dominated the nation's economy for generations. Rend Al-Rahim, Iraq's ambassador to the United States, said she was unfamiliar with the Iraq Revenue Watch report but acknowledged resentment among ordinary Iraqis with the way the country's leading families are snatching a growing share of postwar business.
The Iraqi interim government is simply copying what the US has been doing all along. Surprised?


Wednesday, February 18

coinky dinks

Reuters has an article on our friends over at Fluor Corporation. Fluor Lands Iraq Deal to Restore Power
Engineering and construction company Fluor Corp. on Tuesday said it has been awarded three projects by the U.S. government worth $154 million to restore power in Iraq.

The Aliso Viejo, California, company said the task orders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were granted as part of a contract, with a maximum value of $500 million for the first year, awarded last month to support U.S. military operations in hot spots from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Article in Forbes, Fluor bids on $4 bln in Iraq reconstruction
Fluor Corp Inc., a key player in rebuilding Iraq, has bid on $4 billion in government contracts and sees the potential to land up to $1 billion in new business there in the near term, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Fluor, the largest publicly-traded U.S. engineering and construction company, bid this month on work in Iraq worth roughly $4 billion, Alan Boeckmann, Fluor chairman and chief executive, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
James Woolsey's wife, Suzanne, was just appointed to the Board of Directors of Fluor. Think that's having an effect?

Meanwhile, Fluor is busy busy busy with other work too. Fluor Awarded Barracks Construction Work in Iraq
Fluor Corporation today announced that it is part of a team that has been awarded a task order to build a camp in Iraq for the U.S. Army. Fluor will act as a subcontractor to Readiness Management Support L.C. on the Air Force Contract Augmentation Program's (AFCAP) task order.

The camp will be built on an existing military base located outside of
Baghdad and will include housing for U.S. Army personnel, bunkers and utility infrastructure.
But hey, remember what Rumsfeld said? The US won't be building bases in Iraq. Ha ha ha.
"Any impression that is left, which [a New York Times article] left, that the United States plans some sort of a permanent presence in that country I think is a signal to the people of that country that is inaccurate and unfortunate, because we don't plan to function as an occupier," Rumsfeld said.

- April 21, 2003 Reuters, Rumsfeld: No Discussions of U.S. Bases in Iraq
Ha ha ha ha. Such a kidder that Rumsfeld.

Sunday, February 15


P Glass passed on a link to the Iraqi Press Monitor. Looks interesting so far.
IWPR's Iraqi Press Monitor is a daily survey of the main stories in Iraq's newspapers.

It features the top 7 stories of the day, along with a political cartoon, and includes details of the newspapers they appear in.
Nokia secures mobile network deal in Iraq
Nokia has secured a deal for the setting up of a GSM mobile telephone network in the south of Iraq.
Iraq's interim administration has divided the country into northern, central, and southern areas, each of which are initially getting one mobile operator. The initial operating licences will be in force for just two years.
Nokia will deliver the network to Atheer Telecom, which is owned by the Kuwaiti mobile operator MTC. The network will cover the city of Basra, and will extend to the outskirts of Baghdad.
No numbers.


The New Yorker has an article Contract Sport by Jane Mayer on Halliburton, Cheney, money, and oil.
Scott Saunders, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, confirmed the authenticity of the letter, and acknowledged that Halliburton had picked Altanmia. “Halliburton told us that only Altanmia could meet our requirements,” he said.

Experts in the Persian Gulf oil business say that the Altanmia deal looks suspicious. “There is not a reason on earth to sell gasoline at the price they did,” Youssef Ibrahim, the managing director of the Strategic Energy Investment Group, a consulting firm in Dubai, said. “Halliburton and their Kuwaiti partners made out like bandits.” A well-informed Kuwaiti source called the prices charged by Altanmia “absurd,” and said that Halliburton’s arrangement to buy Kuwaiti oil through a middleman, rather than directly from the government, was “highly irregular.” He added, “There is no way that this could have transpired without the knowledge and direction” of Kuwait’s oil minister, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. Two sources told me that the oil minister’s brother, Talal Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, may have secret financial ties to Altanmia. (The brothers are also nephews of the Emir and the Prime Minister of Kuwait.) “There are calls in parliament to open an investigation,” the Kuwaiti source said. “It could shake the government.”
Our favorite excerpt:
Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel who has taught at the National War College, told me that so many of the contracts in Iraq are going to companies with personal connections with the Bush Administration that the procurement process has essentially become a “patronage system.”
Go read the article.

Wednesday, February 4

one more time

There seems to be a great deal of confusion in the White House regarding weapons inspections in Iraq. Transcript CNN January 27, 2004
QUESTION: Mr. President, how do you describe and account for the difference between what you claimed prior to the war about what he possessed and what he was capable of and what the intelligence said he possessed and was capable of -- a nuclear weapon within the decade -- and the fact that David Kay says the intelligence was inaccurate and wrong and nothing has been found?

QUESTION: Don't you owe the American people an explanation?

BUSH: Well, I think the Iraqi Survey Group must do its work. And, again, I appreciate David Kay's contribution.

I said in the run-up to the war against Iraq that, first of all, hopefully the international community would take care of him. I was hoping the United Nations would enforce its resolutions -- one of many.

And then we went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution, 1441, unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, "You must disclose and destroy your weapons programs," which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance -- it was his choice to make -- and he did not let us in.

I said in the run-up that Saddam was a grave and gathering danger. That's what I said. And I believed it then, and I know it was true now. And as Mr. Kay said that Iraq was a dangerous place.

And given the circumstances of September the 11th, given the fact that we're vulnerable to attack, this nation had to act for our security.
Someone want to pass this on to the President? Inspectors’ Accomplishments in Iraq, 2002-2003
UN weapons inspectors began their work in Iraq November 27 [2002] and left March 18 [2003]. Iraq submitted a declaration containing information about its weapons of mass destruction December 7 [2002], as required by UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted 237 inspections at 148 sites, including 27 sites not previously inspected. UNMOVIC inspectors conducted 731 inspections at 411 sites, including 88 sites not previously inspected. Of those inspections, 22 percent were related to chemical weapons, 28 percent to biological weapons, and 30 percent to missiles. The remaining 20 percent were multidisciplinary inspections, involving experts from each disarmament area.

UNMOVIC carried out a total of eight aerial surveillance and monitoring missions by helicopter and 16 reconnaissance missions using U-2 and Mirage aircraft between mid-February and mid-March 2003.

Inspectors also conducted 14 private interviews with Iraqi scientists, out of 54 that they had requested, between January and March 2003. Iraq provided 31 lists of Iraqi scientists to UNMOVIC, five of which contained the names of experts involved in the handling and destruction of prohibited weapons materials. Some of these scientists were involved in destroying anthrax—one of the most important outstanding disarmament issues—but inspectors were withdrawn before those scientists could be interviewed.

Sunday, February 1

intel day

Many many articles on the faulty intelligence this weekend.

We Had Good Intel—The U.N.'s by Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek.
"We were all wrong," says weapons inspector David Kay. Actually, no. There was one group whose prewar estimates of Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological capabilities have turned out to be devastatingly close to reality—the U.N. inspectors.


Regarding chemical and biological weapons, the U.N. inspectors headed by Hans Blix conducted 731 inspections between November 2002 and March 2003. Despite claims by the U.S. government of the existence of specific stockpiles of weapons and active weapons programs, they found no evidence of either. In his reports to the Security Council, Blix was always judicious. "One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist," he said. "However, that possibility is also not excluded."
Over at Atrios' Eschaton, someone also posted a link to this little covered story, US Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq UN Report.
Throughout the winter of 2002, the Bush administration publicly accused Iraqi weapons declarations of being incomplete. The almost unbelievable reality of this situation is that it was the United States itself that had removed over 8,000 pages of the 11,800 page original report.

This came as no surprise to Europeans however, as Iraq had made extra copies of the complete weapons declaration report and unofficially distributed them to journalists throughout Europe. The Berlin newspaper Die Tageszetung broke the story on December 19, 2002 in an article by Andreas Zumach.
Anyone speak German? It's not one of our languages.


We at bpost found this to be a very disturbing article. Why? Other than weapons of mass destruction [program activities] being used as justification for the war, over $600 million dollars was set aside for investigating wmd's. So a) where did the money go and b) why did the White House request the funding if they knew it was a mock investigation?

US officials knew in May Iraq possessed no WMD by Peter Beaumont, Gaby Hinsliff and Paul Harris February 1, 2004 for The Observer.
Senior American officials concluded at the beginning of last May that there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, The Observer has learnt.

Intelligence sources, policy makers and weapons inspectors familiar with the details of the hunt for WMD told The Observer it was widely known that Iraq had no WMD within three weeks of Baghdad falling, despite the assertions of senior Bush administration figures and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
On May 30, 2003 a press briefing was held with Stephen A. Cambone, under secretary of defense for intelligence, and Army Major General Keith W. Dayton, director for operations, Defense Intelligence Agency, to discuss the Iraq Survey group. Briefing on the Iraq Survey Group
Dayton:  Oh, I think we've learned something in the past couple of months.  The fact that we've gone to a lot of these sites and haven't found anything that is of value tells us that, okay, we took the top priority sites, didn't find them, so now, before we go to other sites, we're going to want to get a bit more analytic assessment of the site done before we go back and try it again, because things have changed in the last two months.  They may well have been excellent targets back in February or March, but, you know, we just want to know more about it before we take resources and send them out there.
It never occurred to us to take the press briefing literally. We assumed they were being somewhat obtuse for the reasons of security. Now it looks like they knew then there were no weapons of mass destruction. And yet they continued to spend tax payer dollars doing what--sifting sand?

If we sound shrill today in our anger, it's because President Bush wants the Iraq Survey Group to keep looking. Bush de-emphasizes weapons claim
Bush said the Iraq Survey Group, the U.S. team looking for weapons in Iraq, must keep searching for evidence of weapons programs to determine how the administration's prewar claims about the threat posed by Iraq compare with the evidence on the ground.

"It's very important for us to let the Iraq Survey Group do its work so we can find out the facts and compare the facts to what was thought," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office...
Anyone remember Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors that the White House forced out of Iraq?