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Last week saw a flurry of stories (largely ignored, naturally) indicating that the pervasive corruption of America's colonial enterprise has risen to new heights. Reports by scrupulously nonpartisan institutions, including Christian Aid and the General Accounting Office, the independent investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, revealed that in the final weeks of its "formal" occupation of Iraq -- before handing over nominal control of the client state to CIA-backed terrorist leader and ex-Baathist enforcer Iyad Allawi -- the Bush Regime plunged into an orgy of graft that stripped Iraq's treasury bare. Most of this loot was divvied up in no-bid contracts to Regime lardbuckets like Halliburton -- but up to $3 billion of it simply "disappeared" into pockets yet unknown, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Like their Baathist predecessors, the Bushist overlords were given control of the UN-established Development Fund, which was supposed to guarantee that Iraq's oil revenues were spent on the needs of the Iraqi people. But like Saddam Hussein, Bush instead used the fund as a barrel of personal pork to reward cronies and buy local political support with bribes. By the time Bush viceroy Paul Bremer made his hugger-mugger handover of "sovereignty" to CIA man Allawi, there was less than $1 billion left in the $20 billion fund -- with more than $6 billion of this siphoned off in just the last two months of direct U.S. rule, The Guardian reports.
Where did it all go? Half went to "Iraqi ministries" staffed with local frontmen like Allawi and his cousin, convicted fraudster and intelligence forger Ahmad Chalabi, and with Bush partisans from back home, many of them young right-wing zealots with no administrative experience whatsoever. Another chunk went to military units for use in rebuilding buildings they'd blasted down, paying compensation to the families of innocent people they'd killed, and buying intelligence and informants to help meet Bushist quotas for filling the torturous interrogation rooms in Abu Ghraib and its gulag satellites -- where the Red Cross says up to 90 percent of all the captives were innocent. Money well spent, obviously.
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But the scam gets even sweeter. During the 14 months of direct rule, Bush -- an old oilman -- somehow failed to have the Iraqi oil under his charge properly metered. That means there was simply no way on Earth to keep legitimate accounts on the oil revenue that was supposed to go into the Development Fund. Trying to make some sense of these well-cooked books, Christian Aid and international auditors compared the best production and pricing figures available from oil industry experts -- and found a discrepancy of between $1.8 billion and $3 billion from the Bushists' claims of total oil revenues given to the fund.
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Indeed. Halliburton, under Cheney, once did a paltry $23 million in backdoor business with Hussein; now, cutting out the middleman (and more than 10,000 innocent lives, as well), the company has $18 billion in Iraqi war contracts, thanks to its White House rainmakers. And no doubt that $3 billion unmetered skim will be bankrolling some fancy Houston mansions and choice Texas scrub brush in the years to come.
The question of war -- its causes and consequences -- is always a multi-headed hydra, defeating easy analysis. But for the thieves of Baghdad, one simple fact holds true: Crime pays.
This is absolutely criminal. Why do you think I don't just want Bush and his cronies out of the White House? I want them in jail.