<\body> Stories in America: US Contractor Admits to Corruption in Iraq

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

US Contractor Admits to Corruption in Iraq

Here's yet another reason why the Iraqis should continue to welcome us with open arms. What a classy guy:
An American businessman who is at the heart of one of the biggest corruption cases to emerge from the reconstruction of Iraq has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and money-laundering charges, according to documents unsealed yesterday in federal court in Washington.

As part of the plea, Philip H. Bloom admitted his part in a scheme to give more than $2 million in cash and gifts to U.S. officials in exchange for their help in getting reconstruction contracts for his companies. Bloom's firms won $8.6 million in reconstruction deals, with an average profit margin of more than 25 percent.

Yesterday's filings included e-mails that provide insight into the fraud. In one, an Army Reserve officer who allegedly helped Bloom secure his contracts expresses gratitude for Bloom's largesse.

"The truck is Great!!! I needed a new truck ... People I work with cannot stop commenting on how much they love it," the officer wrote in a Sept. 2, 2004, message to Bloom. The officer then added a bit of reassurance: "If there were any smoking guns, they would have been found months ago."
I'm sure the Bush administration will do its best to make sure this doesn't happen again. And you can bet Bush will do whatever it takes to fulfill the many promises he has broken and give reporters a reason to tell us about all of the "good news" happening in Iraq:
Two years ago, the United States government promised to build more than 140 badly needed health clinics in Iraq, bringing basic care to underserved areas outside the big cities. That could have done a lot of good, saving innocent Iraqi lives and building good will for the United States in places where it has grown dangerously scarce. A generous cost-plus contract was awarded to Parsons Inc., an American construction firm, to do the work, supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Now, with roughly $200 million already spent and financing from Washington set to run out in less than nine months, it appears extremely unlikely that most of those clinics will ever be built. As The Washington Post reported earlier this month, the Army Corps of Engineers predicts that no more than 20 clinics will actually be completed -- out of 142.

America's good intentions should not be allowed to expire with so pathetically little achieved. The country's three years in Iraq have been a cavalcade of squandered opportunities and unanticipated outcomes. Many of those are now, sadly, beyond retrieval. The health clinics are not.


At 4/19/2006 3:38 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

That last paragraph is an excellent argument for not withdrawing our troops. Without the troops, we will not be able to fulfill our obligations. If it is going to take longer to live up to our promises than we anticipated, that's very unfortunate. But it's no excuse to disregard what we must do to help the Iraqi people.

At 4/19/2006 3:52 PM, Anonymous support troops -- bring them home said...

I respectfully disagree. We've lost all credibility and trust. It's time for us to leave and let the UN PEACEkeeping team tak over.

At 4/19/2006 4:49 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

That's an overstatement. And it's up to us not to leave things as they are. Besides, I wouldn't count on the UN for much of anything...

At 4/20/2006 10:57 AM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

Yeah, timmy, the UN is useless.

Take a look at their economic and social development programs and then back up your statement:


At 4/20/2006 1:40 PM, Anonymous innocent bystander said...

OK Rose, I took the bait. I can't say I agree with the MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS set by the UN as being the most relivant to world secutity -- but this is how the UN backs up timmy's assessment of their performance:
IN THE ARAB REGION 2005, Summary

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
“…and the region as a
whole is unlikely to succeed in achieving Goal 1.”

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
“…the region has yet to achieve universal primary education. In 2002, some 20 per cent of children
of primary school age were not enrolled.”

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
“…44 million adult women (aged over 15 years), representing almost half of the female population, could not read or write. Of the 13 million illiterate young people (aged 15-24 years) in the region, 8.5 million were women.”
“…a higher dropout rate for boys, who join the labor market early, especially those from poor households. That explains the improvement in gender parity in secondary education enrolment rates.” Interesting technique to achieve equality.
“The women’s economic activity rate in the Arab region, at approximately 29 per cent in 2000, is one
of the lowest in the world.”
“Arab women’s political participation remains one the lowest in the world.”
I needn’t bore you with the other indicators… they hold true to trend.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health
“…current maternal mortality rates (MMRs) and data on natal care indicate that the region is not on track to meet maternal health-related targets.”

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
In the Arab region, “the number of [HIV/AIDS] cases is on the increase.” This despite the “…underr-reporting of HIV/AIDS”.
The UN is succeeding in combating malaria and TB, despite its continued prevalence.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
“…the achievement of environmental sustainability will require more concerted efforts…”
“Despite the vast energy resources of the region, in 2003 only 78.6 per cent of the Arab population had
access to electricity, …”
Water protection “policies adopted and actions taken seem to be largely ad hoc and are therefore of
limited effectiveness.”” Water supply and sanitation indicators suggest that significant efforts are still needed in the Arab countries in order to meet the set targets,…”
--Need I go on –

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
The UN says, “Peace and stability is urgently needed to enable the Arab region to better deploy its efforts to achieve MDGs.” Outside of Darfur, Sudan and limited numbers in Afghanistan, where are they and what are they doing?

How is that for an effective track record.

At 4/20/2006 1:47 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Gee, they left out all that little oil-for-food thingy that made Enron look like a high school prank. And nothing about their "peacekeepers" raping women...or how they are blocking sanctions on the perpetrators of violence in Darfur. Just an oversight, I'm sure.

Sorry, but we've already seen how effective the UN handles these kind of problems (remember Somalia? Rwanda?)...No thanks.

At 4/20/2006 2:01 PM, Anonymous boo visitor said...

maybe you can leave the comforts of your home one day, fly to any African country and tell poor women why you believe the un is useless. sorry, no more clean water programs, education or micro loan programs for you. I have no use for the un.

At 4/20/2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

For whatever good the UN does, it could certainly be replaced with something better, and the sooner the better. But this whole "how worthwhile the UN is" thing got started with the assertion that UN peacekeeping forces would be a better option than the US military for stabilizing Iraq. Sorry, but however good you think the UN is at instituting clean water programs and mico loans, when it comes to peacekeeping, they suck.

At 4/20/2006 5:04 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Oh, and have you heard who the United Nations just elected to serve as the Vice-Chair of the U.N. Disarmament Commission?

(wait for it)

The Islamic Republic of Iran.


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