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.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:
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."
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.