Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daylight Robbery: BBC One Panorama investigates $23 Billion lost, stolen or unaccounted for in Iraq.

Panorama the hard hitting, investigative news program on BBC One (similar to the Fifth Estate on CBC) has produced a report investigating claims that as much as $23 Billion may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq.

Unlike the 60 minutes report from March about a successful civil, fraud case against Custer, Battles or the accepted claims by the Bush Administration that up to $8 billion was improperly accounted for, Panorama is making allegations about a much larger sum and by much larger companies, Bechtel, Halliburton and Parsons.
There are more than 70 whistleblower cases revealing the scandals behind billions of dollars worth of waste, theft and corruption during the Iraq war, that the US justice department has imposed gag orders on. The gag orders prevent all involved, including the US media to discuss the cases and the real scale of the problem.

In the report Panorama spoke to some of those involved - They heard allegations of mismanagement, fraud and waste; tales of contractors chosen for their US government connections without a competitive bidding process; contractors inflating their costs and double counting to increase their profits and billions supposed to be used to rebuild the Iraqi military allegedly ending up in the pockets of some Iraqi government officials.

Even the contract to oversee the expenditure went to a company with no relevant qualification in accounting. "They are the quintessential war profiteers," said a witness to one of the most notorious companies involved. "They made money out of chaos."
The current impeachment papers against Bush cover falsely taking the country to war, by withholding facts and outright lying to the public. If the allegations in this Panorama report were investigated you could probably add war profiteering and obstruction of justice.

Until the gag orders are rescinded neither the report nor the facts will be available to the American public. Although some information is coming through on the intertubes, the actual Panorama broadcast has not hit yet. Here's an earlier BBC clip covering some of the story.

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