Gassed His Own People

By JOHN TULLY
The LOS ANGELES SUN
June 20 2004

One of the unfortunate things about doing things completely different
from the Clinton administration is that you’re bound to trip all
over yourself and skin your shins doing just that.

Richard Clarke, the counter-terror chief for President Clinton, kept
on by the Bush administration and whom Vice President Cheney claimed
was “out of the loop”, repeatedly warned of planes being
used as a weapon, probably by al Qaeda, in as late as summer of 2001
to anyone on the new team who would listen.

In fact, on 31 January of 2001, The United States Commission on National
Security concludes that we are not only unprepared for an attack
on American soil but specifically mentions the phrase “weapon
of mass destruction in a high-rise building”. The report basically
states that there is a real lack of coordination between our intelligence agencies and a fragmented system to deal with threats.The White House, disregarding even their own master of hand moves,
Donald Rumsfeld, stifles the call for hearings and sets up a task
force that meets a total of once, on September the fourth.

It’s not surprising then, that a memo in July of that summer from the
FBI doesn’t raise any eyebrows. Agent Kenneth Williams worries about
Middle Eastern men attending flight schools and German and Russian
intelligence has Arabic terrorists training to fly airplanes as weapons
against the U.S. and Israel. They are ignored or not coordinated.

Scarry with two R’s.

Think of the 9/11 commission and it’s sordid history as the perfect
metaphor for this administration and the sheer chutzpah of it’s officials.

Having thwarted the very creation of such a commission, they’ve monkey wrenched every single aspect of it from the start. The families of the deceased have entire web sites set up that document the complete unwillingness of the Bush administration to hand over even the simplest of file requests.

But can anybody ever, in their lifetime, forget the brilliant appointment of Henry Kissinger as the Commission’s first Chairman?

Certainly the honorable Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey and
general good guy would be perfect for the job. Unfortunately, Mr.
Kean is a director of Amerada-Hess, a partner with an outfit called
Delta Oil Ltd. of Saudi Arabia. Delta is partly owned by Osama Bin
laden’s brother-in-law: financier Khalid bin Mahfouz, formerly of
that whole messy BCCI bank scandal. His partner in Delta is Mohammed
Hussein al Amoudi and both are thought to have funnelled many millions to al-Qaeda and it’s network.

Co- chairmen Lee Hamilton is widely known to have looked the other
way when confronted with the evidence that former Presidents Reagan
and Bush were very much “in the loop” during the secret
Iran-Contra covert arms transactions. One would assume that this
Trilateral Commission member would give the kid the same free pass.
He also sits on the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.The rest of the commission doesn’t instill in one the feeling of impartiality.

Democrat Richard Ben-Veniste, the scourge of the Right, is a former
lawyer for one of the drug runners during Iran-Contra. He still represents United Airlines.

Fred Fielding is a former Nixon crony who vetted cabinet members on
the Bush transition team and works for the law firm that lobbies
for United Airlines.

Commission member Jamie Gorelick is a former lawyer for two of the
American men, Clark Clifford and Robert Altman, most responsible
when the Bank of Commerce and Credit International robbed depositors
of $10 billion. It was an early nineties transcontinental giant ponzi scheme of a bank scandal. While she was the second in command at the Justice Department in the Clinton administration she was responsible for a memo suggesting a separation of counterintelligence and criminal
investigations and their record on infiltrating and weakening al-Qaeda can only be described as less than stellar.

Her law firm is representing Muhammed al-Faisal,
the Saudi prince who allegedly financed Osama bin laden. The plaintiffs are 9/11 family members.

Former Senator Slade Gorton has ties to Boeing who built all the planes that crashed on 9/11 and his law firm represents Delta Airlines.

Two days after the attack The Seattle Times reported that he said
to a public television audience that there was “nothing government
intelligence officials could have done to thwart the attack”

By far though, the most interesting of appointees to the National Commission
on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States; the 9/11 commission’s
official name, is it’s executive director, Mr. Philip Zelicow.
He served on the President?s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and
as a member of the Bush administration’s transition team, often briefed incoming security staff on Iraq and al-Qaeda. Of course his well known personal friendship with the President’s National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, with whom he wrote a book, is widely known.

He’s a member of the controversial Council on Foreign Relations and
The Aspen Strategy Group, a foreign policy think-tank that counts
Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Ms. Rice as members. Mr. Zelicow
allegedly made the claim at UVA in the fall of 2002 that the real
Iraqi threat was not to America: “Why would Iraq attack America
or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the
real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat
against Israel.

Mr. Zelicow is also executive director of the National Commission on
Federal Election Reform and general editor of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Presidential Recordings Program that, among other things, transcribes presidential telephone conversations and meetings recorded during the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Unfortunately the transcriptions have been found to contain at least a hundred key mistakes that ironically have been attributed by Zelikow to his work on the 9/11 commission and have still not been corrected.

This week the commission issued it’s preliminary report, read by Mr.
Zelicow. Among other findings was the statement: “We have
no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks
against the United States” While Bin Laden was in the Sudan
he reportedly met with a senior Iraqi official after the man’s third
attempt. This was apparently at the behest of the Sudanese who wanted him to cease his support of anti-Saddam Islamists in the Kurdish north.

In case there might still be some confusion, the commission’s report
goes further and reads: “There have been reports that contacts
between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned
to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship”The next morning the President immediately chimed in, saying: “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda” is “because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The Vice President was outraged by the outrage and blamed the New York Times and it’s headlines as the culprit. He also derided the media in general for the confusion.

But there was Mr. Cheney just this past Monday crowing that Saddam “had long-established ties with al Qaeda.” and last fall when he said that Iraq was: “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11. Most impressively though was the Vice President’s outright insistence Thursday night that the old battle ax herself, the “Prague meeting”, wherein Mohammed Atta, one of the nineteen highjackers, meets with Iraqi officials, actually took place. “It’s never been refuted.” he weakly snorted.

The Commission’s Staff Report 15 clearly states: “We do not believe
that such a meeting occurred.” Various intelligence has placed
Atta in Florida at the time and Commissioner Hamilton claimed Sunday
morning that the Iraqi spy wasn’t there either. Newsweek is now reporting that Commission staff members were “astonished” that the
Vice President still clings to this story.

Now that’s what you call Chuztpah.

Welcome to Dick Cheney’s America.

2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN

10 DVDs Glenn Beck Doesn’t Want You To See

10 DVDs Glenn Beck Doesn’t Want You To See

New Leaked Report About Iraq War Shows 15,000 More Civilian Deaths ~ That's About Five 9/11's ~ Good On Us!!

GUARDIAN UK

Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture

• Massive leak reveals serial detainee abuse
• 15,000 unknown civilian deaths in war
Full coverage of the Iraq war logs

A grim picture of the US and Britain’s legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.

Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.

The new logs detail how:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.

As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: “The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him.” Continue reading New Leaked Report About Iraq War Shows 15,000 More Civilian Deaths ~ That's About Five 9/11's ~ Good On Us!!

Surprise Surprise, Halliburton Used Shell Companies To Get Contracts

THE NEW YORK TIMES
by James Risen and Mark Mazzetti

WASHINGTON — Blackwater Worldwide created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, according to Congressional investigators and former Blackwater officials.

While it is not clear how many of those businesses won contracts, at least three had deals with the United States military or the Central Intelligence Agency, according to former government and company officials. Since 2001, the intelligence agency has awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates, according to a United States government official.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week released a chart that identified 31 affiliates of Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. The network was disclosed as part of a committee’s investigation into government contracting. The investigation revealed the lengths to which Blackwater went to continue winning contracts after Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007. That episode and other reports of abuses led to criminal and Congressional investigations, and cost the company its lucrative security contract with the State Department in Iraq.

The network of companies — which includes several businesses located in offshore tax havens — allowed Blackwater to obscure its involvement in government work from contracting officials or the public, and to assure a low profile for any of its classified activities, said former Blackwater officials, who, like the government officials, spoke only on condition of anonymity. Continue reading Surprise Surprise, Halliburton Used Shell Companies To Get Contracts

Hell ~ 15 More Dead Americans in Iraq/Afghanistan: This Week | 78 Iraqi Citizens: Iraq Body Count

Service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan:
US Army SPC Ryan J Grady, 25, Bristow, OK
US Air Force Capt David A Wisniewski, 31, Moville, IA
US Army SGT Louis R Fastuca, 24, West Chester, PA
US Army SPC Clayton D McGarrah, 20, Harrison, AR
US Army PFC David Jefferson, 23, Philadelphia, PA
US Army SGT Jordan E Tuttle, 22, West Monroe, LA
US Army PFC Edwin C Wood, 18, Omaha, NE
US Army SSG Christopher F Cabacoy, 30, Virginia Beach, VA
US Army SGT Andrew J Creighton, 23, Laurel, DE
US Army PFC Jacob A Dennis, 22, Powder Springs, GA
US Army SPC Keenan A Cooper, 19, Wahpeton, ND
US Army SPC Jerod H Osborne, 20, Royse City, TX
US Army SSG Marc A Arizmendez, 30, Anaheim, CA
US Army SPC Roger Lee, 26, Monterey, CA
US Army PFC Michael S Pridham, 19, Louisville, KY

h/t  NICOLE BELLE
Crooks and Liars

Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences

by US Senator Robert Byrd
Senate Floor Speech – Wednesday, February 12, 2003

To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.

Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent — ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.

We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.

And this is no small conflagration we contemplate. This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materializes, represents a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world.

This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. Continue reading Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences

Sneaky George W. Bush Pushing Through Dozens of Last-Minute Legislative Scams

THE OBSERVER

PAUL HARRIS

DEC 14 2008

chinatown110ec

After spending eight years at the helm of one of the most ideologically driven administrations in American history, George W. Bush is ending his presidency in characteristically aggressive fashion, with a swath of controversial measures designed to reward supporters and enrage opponents.

By the time he vacates the White House, he will have issued a record number of so-called ‘midnight regulations’ – so called because of the stealthy way they appear on the rule books – to undermine the administration of Barack Obama, many of which could take years to undo.

Dozens of new rules have already been introduced which critics say will diminish worker safety, pollute the environment, promote gun use and curtail abortion rights. Many rules promote the interests of large industries, such as coal mining or energy, which have energetically supported Bush during his two terms as president. More are expected this week.

America’s attention is focused on the fate of the beleaguered car industry, still seeking backing in Washington for a multi-billion-dollar bail-out. But behind the scenes, the ‘midnight’ rules are being rushed through with little fanfare and minimal media attention. None of them would be likely to appeal to the incoming Obama team.

The regulations cover a vast policy area, ranging from healthcare to car safety to civil liberties. Many are focused on the environment and seek to ease regulations that limit pollution or restrict harmful industrial practices, such as dumping strip-mining waste.

The Bush moves have outraged many watchdog groups. ‘The regulations we have seen so far have been pretty bad,’ said Matt Madia, a regulatory policy analyst at OMB Watch. ‘The effects of all this are going to be severe.’

Bush can pass the rules because of a loophole in US law allowing him to put last-minute regulations into the Code of Federal Regulations, rules that have the same force as law. He can carry out many of his political aims without needing to force new laws through Congress. Outgoing presidents often use the loophole in their last weeks in office, but Bush has done this far more than Bill Clinton or his father, George Bush sr. He is on track to issue more ‘midnight regulations’ than any other previous president.

Many of these are radical and appear to pay off big business allies of the Republican party. One rule will make it easier for coal companies to dump debris from strip mining into valleys and streams. The process is part of an environmentally damaging technique known as ‘mountain-top removal mining’. It involves literally removing the top of a mountain to excavate a coal seam and pouring the debris into a valley, which is then filled up with rock. The new rule will make that dumping easier.

Another midnight regulation will allow power companies to build coal-fired power stations nearer to national parks. Yet another regulation will allow coal-fired stations to increase their emissions without installing new anti-pollution equipment.

The Environmental Defence Fund has called the moves a ‘fire sale of epic size for coal’. Other environmental groups agree. ‘The only motivation for some of these rules is to benefit the business interests that the Bush administration has served,’ said Ed Hopkins, a director of environmental quality at the Sierra Club. A case in point would seem to be a rule that opens up millions of acres of land to oil shale extraction, which environmental groups say is highly pollutant.

There is a long list of other new regulations that have gone onto the books. One lengthens the number of hours that truck drivers can drive without rest. Another surrenders government control of rerouting the rail transport of hazardous materials around densely populated areas and gives it to the rail companies.

One more chips away at the protection of endangered species. Gun control is also weakened by allowing loaded and concealed guns to be carried in national parks. Abortion rights are hit by allowing healthcare workers to cite religious or moral grounds for opting out of carrying out certain medical procedures.

A common theme is shifting regulation of industry from government to the industries themselves, essentially promoting self-regulation. One rule transfers assessment of the impact of ocean-fishing away from federal inspectors to advisory groups linked to the fishing industry. Another allows factory farms to self-regulate disposal of pollutant run-off.

The White House denies it is sabotaging the new administration. It says many of the moves have been openly flagged for months. The spate of rules is going to be hard for Obama to quickly overcome. By issuing them early in the ‘lame duck’ period of office, the Bush administration has mostly dodged 30- or 60-day time limits that would have made undoing them relatively straightforward.

Obama’s team will have to go through a more lengthy process of reversing them, as it is forced to open them to a period of public consulting. That means that undoing the damage could take months or even years, especially if corporations go to the courts to prevent changes.

At the same time, the Obama team will have a huge agenda on its plate as it inherits the economic crisis. Nevertheless, anti-midnight regulation groups are lobbying Obama’s transition team to make sure Bush’s new rules are changed as soon as possible. ‘They are aware of this. The transition team has a list of things they want to undo,’ said Madia.

The Official Failures of Rebuilding Iraq

Official history details failures of rebuilding Iraq
Sunday, December 14, 2008
14iraq550

BAGHDAD: An unpublished, 513-page federal history of the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

“Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience,” the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag – particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army – the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces – the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.”‘

Powell’s assertion that the Pentagon inflated the number of competent Iraqi security forces is backed up by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of ground troops in Iraq, and L. Paul Bremer 3rd, the top civilian administrator until an Iraqi government took over in June 2004.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the U.S. government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

By mid-2008, the history says, $117 billion had been spent on the reconstruction of Iraq, including some $50 billion in U.S. taxpayer money.

The history contains a catalog of new revelations that show the chaotic and often poisonous atmosphere prevailing in the reconstruction effort.

When the Office of Management and Budget balked at the U.S. occupation authority’s abrupt request for about $20 billion in new reconstruction money in August 2003, a veteran Republican lobbyist working for the authority made a bluntly partisan appeal to Joshua Bolten, then the Office of Management and Budget director and now the White House chief of staff. “To delay getting our funds would be a political disaster for the President,” wrote the lobbyist, Tom Korologos. “His election will hang for a large part on show of progress in Iraq and without the funding this year, progress will grind to a halt.” With administration backing, Congress allocated the money later that year.

In an illustration of the hasty and haphazard planning, a civilian official at the U.S. Agency for International Development was at one point given four hours to determine how many miles of Iraqi roads would need to be reopened and repaired. The official searched through the agency’s reference library, and his estimate went directly into a master plan. Whatever the quality of the agency’s plan, it eventually began running what amounted to a parallel reconstruction effort in the provinces that had little relation with the rest of the U.S. effort.

Money for many of the local construction projects still under way is divided up by a spoils system controlled by neighborhood politicians and tribal chiefs. “Our district council chairman has become the Tony Soprano of Rasheed, in terms of controlling resources,” said a U.S. Embassy official working in a dangerous Baghdad neighborhood, referring to the popular TV mob boss. “‘You will use my contractor or the work will not get done.”‘

The United States could soon have reason to consult this cautionary tale of deception, waste and poor planning, as both troop levels and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are likely to be stepped up under the new administration.

The incoming Obama administration’s rebuilding experts are expected to focus on smaller-scale projects and emphasize political and economic reform. Still, such programs do not address one of the history’s main contentions: that the reconstruction effort has failed because no single agency in the U.S. government has responsibility for the job.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the history concludes, “the government as a whole has never developed a legislatively sanctioned doctrine or framework for planning, preparing and executing contingency operations in which diplomacy, development and military action all figure.”

“Hard Lessons” was compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, led by Stuart Bowen Jr., a Republican lawyer who regularly travels to Iraq and has a staff of engineers and auditors based here. Copies of several drafts of the history were provided to reporters at The New York Times and ProPublica by two people outside the inspector general’s office who have read the draft but are not authorized to comment publicly.

Bowen’s deputy, Ginger Cruz, declined to comment for publication on the substance of the history. But she said it would be presented Feb. 2 at the first hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which was created this year as a result of legislation sponsored by Senators Jim Webb of Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, both Democrats.

The manuscript is based on about 500 new interviews, as well as more than 600 audits, inspections and investigations on which Bowen’s office has reported individually over the years. Laid out for the first time in a connected history, the material forms the basis for broad judgments on the entire rebuilding program.

In the preface, Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Despite years of studying the program, Bowen writes that he still has not found a good answer to the question of why the program was even pursued as soaring violence made it untenable. “Others will have to provide that answer,” Bowen writes.

“But beyond the security issue stands another compelling and unavoidable answer: The U.S. government was not adequately prepared to carry out the reconstruction mission it took on in mid-2003,” he concludes.

The history cites some projects as successes. The review praises community outreach efforts by the Agency for International Development, the Treasury Department’s plan to stabilize the Iraqi dinar after the invasion and a joint effort by the Departments of State and Defense to create local rebuilding teams.

But the portrait that emerges overall is one of a program’s officials operating by the seat of their pants in the middle of a critical enterprise abroad, where the reconstruction was supposed to convince the Iraqi citizenry of U.S. good will and support the new democracy with lights that turned on and taps that flowed with clean water. Mostly, it is a portrait of a program that seemed to grow exponentially as even those involved from the inception of the effort watched in surprise.

On the eve of the invasion, as it began to dawn on a few U.S. officials that the price for rebuilding Iraq would be vastly greater than they had been told, the degree of miscalculation was illustrated in an encounter between Donald Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, and Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who had hastily been named the chief of what would be a short-lived civilian authority called the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

The history records how Garner presented Rumsfeld with several alternative rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq.

“What do you think that’ll cost?” Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan.

“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Garner said.

“My friend,” Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”

In a way he never anticipated, Rumsfeld turned out to be correct: Before that year was out, the United States had appropriated more than $20 billion for the reconstruction, which would indeed involve projects across the entire country.

Rumsfeld declined comment on the report, but a spokesman, Keith Urbahn, said quotes attributed to him in the document “appear to be accurate.” Powell also declined to comment.

The secondary effects of the invasion and its aftermath were among the most important factors that radically changed the outlook. Tables in the history show that measures of things like the production of electricity and oil; public access to potable water, mobile and landline telephone service; and the presence of Iraqi security forces all plummeted at least 70 percent, and in some cases all the way to zero, in the weeks after the invasion. Subsequent tables in the history give a fast-forward view of what happened as the avalanche of money tumbled into Iraq over the next five years. By the time a sovereign Iraqi government took over from the Americans in June 2004, none of those services – with a single exception, mobile phones – had returned to prewar levels. And by the time of the security improvements in 2007 and 2008, electricity output had, at best, a precarious 10 percent lead on its levels under Saddam Hussein; oil production was still below prewar levels; and access to potable water had increased about 30 percent, although with the nation’s ruined piping system it was unclear how much actually reached people’s homes uncontaminated.

Whether the rebuilding effort could have succeeded in a less violent setting will never be known. In April 2004, thousands of the Iraqi security forces that had been oversold by the Pentagon were overrun, abruptly mutinied or simply abandoned their posts as the insurgency broke out, sending Iraq down a violent path from which it has never completely recovered.

At the end of his narrative, Bowen chooses a line from “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens as the epitaph of the U.S.-led attempt to rebuild Iraq: “We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us.”

James Glanz reported from Baghdad, and T. Christian Miller, of the nonprofit investigative Web site ProPublica, reported from Washington.

General Barry McCaffrey Exposed For The Ultimate Spineless Shill That He Is

THE NEW YORK TIMES

November 30, 2008

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

Continue reading General Barry McCaffrey Exposed For The Ultimate Spineless Shill That He Is

President-Elect Barack Obama's Press Conference | Dec 1 2008

Part Two