The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Friday, November 18

it's a bad soap opera

You know, you just can't make this sh*t up anymore. I'm thinking the folks in the White House just watched way way way to many epsiodes of Dallas and thought that was way the real life should be. How else to explain Tom Delay and his super killer buds Safavian and Abramoff? Or Mike Brown worrying about what to wear to dinner while the citizens of New Orleans drowned? Or Condoleezza Rice thinking a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" was a historical memo?

Telling ya', it's become a really bad soap opera.

Issuing Contracts, Ex-Convict Took Bribes in Iraq, U.S. Says
by James Glanz, NY Times, November 18, 2005
A North Carolina man who was charged yesterday with accepting kickbacks and bribes as a comptroller and financial officer for the American occupation authority in Iraq was hired despite having served prison time for felony fraud in the 1990's.

The job gave the man, Robert J. Stein, control over $82 million in cash earmarked for Iraqi rebuilding projects.

Along with a web of other conspirators who have not yet been named, Mr. Stein and his wife received "bribes, kickbacks and gratuities amounting to at least $200,000 per month" to steer lucrative construction contracts to companies run by another American, Philip H. Bloom, an affidavit outlining the criminal complaint says. Mr. Stein's wife, who was not named, has not been charged with wrongdoing in the case; Mr. Bloom was charged with a range of crimes on Wednesday.

In the staccato language of the affidavit, filed in Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, Mr. Stein, 50, was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy, interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

But the list of charges does little justice to the astonishing brazenness of the accusations described in the complaint, including a wire transfer of a $140,000 bribe, arranged by Mr. Bloom, to buy real estate for Mr. Stein in North Carolina. The affidavit also says that $65,762.63 was spent to buy cars for Mr. Stein and his wife (he bought a Chevrolet; she a Toyota), $44,471 for home improvements and $48,073 for jewelry, out of $258,000 sent directly to the Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union into accounts controlled by the Steins.

Mr. Stein's wife even used $7,151.58 of the money for a "towing service," the complaint says. Much of this money was intended for Iraqi construction projects like building a new police academy in the ancient city of Babylon and rehabilitating the library in Karbala, the southern city that is among the holiest sites for Shiite Muslims.

Tell me that doesn't sound like a soap opera...Towing service? Wink, wink. Ah, jeebus, go read the rest of the article. There's so much crap in there worth quoting that it'd be best if you went off and read it yourself.

Can't wait for the Bush twin's twist on Luke & Laura's wedding. But it's going to be tough to top Noelle for drama.

Thursday, November 17

What goes up, must come down

U.S. Files First Criminal Charges Against Contractors in Iraq
November 17, 2005
The U.S. Justice Department filed the first criminal charges against a contractor receiving Iraq reconstruction contracts, according to court documents.

Philip H. Bloom, 65, funneled at least $693,000 in bribes and kickbacks through bank accounts in Iraq, Switzerland, Romania and the Netherlands in the year through January 2005, according to the documents filed yesterday. The money then went to at least two unnamed U.S. government officials and their spouses in exchange for reconstruction work valued at over $3.5 million, the documents show. [...]

Bloom's firms did business as Global Business Group, GBG Holdings and GBG-Logistics Division, the affidavit said.

It'll be interesting to see the fall out from this story. Too bad congress didn't demand accountability from the DoD until the 3rd supplemental. Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for having played party politics first rather than protecting American's tax dollars.

Look it up if you don't believe me. The Republicans voted twice, as a block, against accountability. They have no business calling themselves the party of "fiscal responsibility" until they clean this mess up.

Wednesday, November 2


Civilian contractors in Iraq dying at faster rate as insurgency grows
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers
As of Monday, 428 civilian contractors had been killed in Iraq and another 3,963 were injured, according to Department of Labor insurance-claims statistics obtained by Knight Ridder.


The Labor Department lists 156 dead for an L-3 Communications subsidiary in Virginia. The company, which provides translators who work with the military, puts the death toll at 167, of whom 15 were Americans. The Labor Department's accounting reports that Halliburton, the largest contractor in Iraq, has had 30 employees killed in Iraq and 2,471 injured. A Halliburton spokeswoman, Melissa Norcross, said Tuesday that the company had lost a total of 77 workers in Iraq, Afghanistan and its base in Kuwait. One worker is unaccounted for. Halliburton couldn't give a breakdown by country.

The government's listing shows the contractors' casualty rate is increasing. In the first 21 months of the war, 11 contractors were killed and 74 injured each month on average. This year, the monthly average death toll is nearly 20 and the average monthly number of injured is 243.


Kiernan noted that L-3's employees aren't killed in combat, they're being assassinated. Of the company's 152 dead Iraqi employees, 105 were murdered because they collaborated with Americans, he said.