Dollars Everywhere

According to a just released 48-page audit by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, who overseas the $20 billion or so allocated to the CPA, millions and possibly billions of dollars are unaccounted for, two million found in a contracting officer’s bathroom, another 700,000 in an unlocked filing cabinet…

Read the report.

Once a dictator….

Saddam Hussein courtroom

Anything look peculiar about this Baghdad courtroom in which the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was to continue Tuesday?

“One of the judges suffered a high-blood pressure attack and I just saw him in the hospital,” one of Hussein’s lawyers, the former Qatari justice minister Najib al-Nuami told AFP.

Rauf Rashid Abdel Rahman, who was appointed as the presiding judge after the December resignation of Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, was apparently angered by excessive security measures at the courthouse when he cancelled the proceedings.

The trial was postponed until Sunday because “some witnesses and complainants were away on pilgrimage to Mecca and did not show up” according to The Washington Post.

Tuesday was the scheduled date for the trial’s resumption after a month long recess preceded the resignation of Amin last week. The trial, which began in October 2005, was postponed for 40 days shortly after it began.

There was palpable contention regarding the sudden assignment this week of Abdel Rahman — a Kurd — as presiding judge, his first involvement in the case.

The Shiite judge Said al-Hammashi, who was chosen by the remaining judges to succeed Amin, was suddenly removed from the case entirely at the insistence of Iraq’s de-Baathification committee.

The sensible solution comes from Iraqi Vice President and leading prime ministerial candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi, who apparently recommends execution without trial as the most righteous and painless solution to the fiasco that may or may not become Saddam Hussein’s trial: “The continuing process is unnecessary and will only hurt the Iraqi people.”

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Is this foreshadowing how hard it might be to get current and future dictatorial leaders to stand trial?

Will we live to see either a) Saddam Hussein on trial, b) Bush / Cheney / andor Rumsfeld on trial, c) any semblance of “democracy” in Iraq d) ???

It’s (Un)Just War

A few headlines to sleep on:

The highest ranking U.S. military officer to be charged with prisoner abuse in Iraq was convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing his head into a sleeping bag but will face no jail time.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer could have faced a life sentence if found guilty on a more serious charge of murder, but instead will take a slap on the wrist and a 60 day vacation.

“The military is a family when you get right down to it,” Welshofer told Denver television’s 9News following the sentencing. “I can’t thank them enough for their support.”

What a warm fuzzy feeling, no?

Two German engineers kidnapped in Iraq (Reuters) — makes me wonder exactly how smart these Iraqi kidnappers are… Germany under Angela Merkel is not only likely to offer a large sum of money to free these hostages, but it will undoubtedly add to the contention between the U.S. and the EU.

Pakistani PM Shaukat Aziz is in Washington to further humiliate Bush and Rumsfeld for the recent surprise bombing that killed several women and children.

Tuesday’s headlines that you swear you’ve seen before…

NYTimes: Iraq Rebuilding Badly Hobbled, U.S. Report Finds
Wash. Post: White House Got Early Warning on Katrina
and: Bush Defends Domestic Spying

… and will undoubtedly see again — perhaps the media is protecting us against our super-short-term memories.

Coverage of the NSA Scandal

A must read from retired first amendment litigator (and recipient of the 2005 best new blog award) Glenn Greenwald:

The media need not take sides in the NSA debate or in any other. But it is failing in its primary purpose if it continues to allow the Administration to blithely make false statements without informing their readers that the statements are false. Allowing the Government to make false statements is not neutrality; it is an abdication of the principal journalistic responsibility.

Read the whole thing here.

Iran: Truth Hits Everybody

What to do when another founding member of the axis of evil triumverate is thought to have WMD (but really this time)?!?

No doubt the ed. board @ New York Times lit up (“Why Not Strike Iran?“)

Clearly, the newspaper reading public is getting obese with the hand-to-mouth fear-mongering. With a side of lies. (biggie-sized). I’m pretty sure Ecclesiastes had other ideas when he spoke of overindulgence and the fat economic lifestyle.
The Sunday Telegraph:

Seven buildings have been erected around the concealed centrifuges which Western governments fear will be used to manufacture weapons-grade uranium at the Natanz site, 200 miles south of Teheran.

And Secretary Rice is just deciding NOW that it might be a good move to transfer high level, Arabic-speaking foreign service officers to the Middle East? A satellite photo does not reveal a secret, but it certainly communicates what no U.S. diplomat or able translator has been able to.
It is nice to see that she’s been cleared by the bosses to actually do something proactive, albeit a lifetime too late… not unlike John Kerry finally taking off the gloves and appearing to have regained feeling in his cojones after his 2004 lead role in “The Grouch that Gave away the Century.”

It’s hard to imagine, as one “career foreign officer” posts, that Rice’s tough talk isn’t anything but hot air.

The U.S. has accomplished little since deposing Saddam, and our mission has been severely stalled by a disorganized enemy with little firepower. Clearly, as Democracy Arsenal, Cirincione @ Carnegie and other clear-headed individuals will write this week: There is no need for military strikes against Iran. Not only is there no need, but it would be distastrous to our already vulnerable homeland, government andn troops. Just what the enemy wants. Spread freedom Mohamed ElBaradeiby bombing a country who’s Mickey Mouse rockets wouldn’t even make it to the Dead Sea. And, Iran is at least three times as populous as Iran with an internet-crazed public that is bent on dissent.

With this negative-track-mind administration its all about the oil. As long as we’re wearing out the merry-go-round in their backyard, Ahmadinejad, Zarqawi, et all will toy with us until they break us.

I’m banking on the cool head of Mohamed ElBaradei, recipient this past October of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency to miraculously bring reason back to U.S. foreign policy.