Bring them to Justice

Corruption in Iraq
Ginger Cruz, Deputy Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, a US government office and Isam al-Khafaji, former reconstruction advisor to the Coalition Provision Authority and former director of Iraq Revenue Watch lined up on opposite sides on KCRW’s “To the Point” with Warren Olney (.mp3 download/podcast) (web site).

But in the end, both agreed on the most major issue. As Cruz, described, people don’t understand how in 1991, under Saddam Hussein’s regime, electricity was restored within a year of U.S. air raids, but NOW, under the occupation of the mighty U.S., three years have passed and utilities are occasionally functional at best.

Riverbend, whose postwar blog entries were recently released in the book Baghdad Burning, posted this in her blog last week:

The electricity schedule in what appears to be most areas in Baghdad is currently FIVE hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity. It?s very frustrating considering the fact that it?s not really cool enough yet for excess electrical heater use- where is it all going? If the electrical situation is this bad now, what happens later when the populace starts needing more electricity?

Approximately 1/6 of the (taxpayers’) funds going to Iraq reconstruction is lost in the shuffle, due to corruption within the CPA and the corrupt middlemen and brokers. Many are already predicting it will completely eclipse and overshadow the UN oil-for-food scandal in terms of both finances and degree of fraudulence.

And it extends beyond Robert J. Stein, Phillip H. Bloom and their cartel. The Boston Globe highlighted last week that “11 investigators in Iraq [are] looking into more than 50?cases of graft involving civilians and the US military.”

Initially the grand plan was for a GLOBAL war on terror; but right now a good portion of our money is vanishing into thin air, while another chunk is inevitably being siphoned into anti-Democracy and anti-American hands, whether you call them sadaamists, insurgents, islamofascists, or pinko commies. There can be no democracy, at least as America envisions it, when corruption, theft, and the influx of foreign funds distracts from the top down. They don’t even have electricity yet.

No help for the helpless in Pakistan

pakistan earthquake refugees
(REUTERS): Former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton unveiled on Wednesday a $90 million aid program for universities and other organizations shuttered by Hurricane Katrina three months ago.

Where have they been for the last two months?

Nearly 80,000 people have died as a result of the October 8, 2005 earthquake outside of Islamabad. Millions have been displaced, and as many are homeless and struggling to stay warm and fed, tens of thousands more may perish at the hands of the brutal Himalayan winter.

“Eighty per cent of the aid pledged for the tsunami (more than $4-billion) was given with two weeks,” according to an article first published in mid-November in the Globe and Mail titled “If we don’t help Pakistan, al-Qaeda’s friends will.”

Its estimated that the UN has received less than a third of the $312 million in aid it called for in mid-October.

Last month Ian Welsh made the call at BOPNews — and it is not too late:

[T]he area of Pakistan in question is an area where al-Q’aeda has often found refuge, and indeed, safety, with tribal fighers protecting them.

Which, may make you think that their trouble; their need; is an American opportunity. For a couple billion dollars, a huge aid operation could have been launched with the American flag all over the place.

Community Dispatch posted a call for grant proposals on State Dept. “letterhead,” but there is no mention of it on State.gov.

Announced on Dec. 6, and running for one month (no hurry here), 1 milllion dollars is available for an NGO to manage the UN operated Afghan refugee camps in the region. According to the release, 1/4 of the earthquake ravaged region’s nearly 900,000 Afghan refugees are in the “most damaged districts.”

Now, I’ll be optimistic and conclude, for now, that State has removed this posting because the grant has already been filled by a qualified and eager NGO. The more skeptical among us may be a bit leery of the disappearance of a call for proposals in less than 24 hours.

*UPDATE: the announcement is now live here at state.gov*

The White House announced the Katrina contribution from the Bush-Clinton fund one day after Katrina victims “unleashed their fury” on the empty ears of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina.

Pakistan needs that $90 million. I thought there was some $62 BILLION earmarked for the U.S. Gulf Coast. By mid-November, FEMA distributed nearly $4.5 billion in federal funds according to ReliefWeb. That’s over 4 THOUSAND million! I suspect much of this dinero must have fallen through the cracks for a measly $90 million to shake things up.

I recommend the PakQuake blog for in-depth perspective and calls for donations.

Playing into the Hands of the Enemy

Ayman al-Zawahri with Osama bin Laden
“Iraqis are ‘seeing tangible progress in their lives,'” President Bush said in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations today.

Only days ago, prior to surviving an apparent mob attack, Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi defiantly told the UK’s Observer: “They are doing the same things we saw in the Saddam days and even worse,” referring to the new Iraqi government.

Al Jazeera’s (apparently accidental) broadcast of an old videotape today, starring al Qaeda henchman Ayman al-Zawahri, serves as a harsh reminder that the U.S. mission to “liberate” Iraq has misplaced the power in the region — to the enemy.

The Geneva Conventions offer protection for those who have “fallen into the hands of the enemy.”

Al Qaeda, being a stateless, invisible enemy, has less to do with the Geneva Conventions than even the U.S., although, the organization at least appears to have the courtesy to remind us — albeit with prerecorded propaganda — just who is winning this war, before recklessly attacking.

You could say that they are inviting us to fight them on their home turf, so they don’t have to bother attacking on our soil. (and that’s OUR strategy).

“I call on the holy warriors to concentrate their campaigns on the stolen oil of the Muslims, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam,” Zawahri said, adding, “…Sheik Osama bin Laden, is still, God protect him, leading the holy war.”

It seems even President Bush has already resolved to losing this war to the phantom-like al Qaeda. “[V]ictory will be achieved when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq’s democracy,” proclaimed the president today.

Ugly as it sounds, the U.S. has become so vulnerable to aspire only to share a “victory” with the untouchable Islamic fundamentalists, who terrorize us without even showing face.