Daily Archives: February 4, 2006


Senior US official in Iraq admits stealing $2 million of reconstruction aid and taking bribes in exchange for $8 million worth of contracts

From BBC News

In the United States, a former official has admitted stealing millions of dollars meant for the reconstruction of Iraq.

Robert Stein held a senior position in the Coalition Provisional Authority, which administered Iraq after American and allied forces invaded in 2003. In a Washington court, he admitted to stealing more than $2m (‘1.12m) and taking bribes in return for contracts. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Robert Stein’s story is one of extraordinary corruption and excess amid the ruins of Iraq. He was in charge of overseeing money for the rebuilding of shattered infrastructure in south-central Iraq in 2003 and 2004. Mr Stein admitted in court to conspiring to give out contracts worth $8m to a certain company in return for bribes.

He also received gifts and sexual favours lavished on him at a special villa in Baghdad. But it didn’t stop there.

Robert Stein admitted to stealing $2m from reconstruction funds.

Some of that money, the court heard, was smuggled onto aircraft and flown back to the United States in suitcases. The case is an ugly twist in the tale of post-war Iraq.

The Coalition Provisional Authority, which ceased to exist in 2004, has already endured some tough criticism over the way it managed funds and handed out contracts. A report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction on how the authority went about its business is expected in the coming weeks.

The signs are it could make embarrassing reading for many of those involved.

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Meanwhile, a new documentary, “Shadow Company”, seeks to explore the secret world of Private Military Companies, including the British-run firm Aegis, whose $293 million Iraq contract raised many eyebrows when it was awarded in 2004.

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Preliminary findings from the Bush Crimes Commissions

The International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration has released its preliminary findings following a series of hearings in October and January.

Wars of Aggression

The evidence is overwhelming that the Bush Administration authorized and is conducting a war of aggression against Iraq in violation of international law, including The Nuremberg Principles, Geneva Conventions of 1949, the United Nations Charter, and the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights. In doing so, the Bush Administration has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Torture, Rendition, Illegal Detention and Murder Indictment

There was substantial evidence submitted through testimony and documents that the Bush Administration committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in conducting its ‘War Against Terror.’ It did this by developing and implementing policies and practices that violated international law and international human rights to force information from detainees and to punish those whom it believes may be ‘enemy combatants.’ It has engaged in a systematic process of denials and specious reconfigurations of international and domestic law to justify its actions.

The full report and covering letter can be read here

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LEAK OF THE WEEK: Bush considered provoking war with Saddam by flying a US spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours

From The Independent

George Bush considered provoking a war with Saddam Hussein’s regime by flying a United States spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours, enticing the Iraqis to take a shot at it, according to a leaked memo of a meeting between the US President and Tony Blair.

The two leaders were worried by the lack of hard evidence that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions, though privately they were convinced that he had. According to the memorandum, Mr Bush said: “The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”

He added: “It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam’s WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated.” The memo damningly suggests the decision to invade Iraq had already been made when Mr Blair and the US President met in Washington on 31 January 2003 ‘ when the British Government was still working on obtaining a second UN resolution to legitimise the conflict.

The leaders discussed the prospects for a second resolution, but Mr Bush said: “The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would ‘twist arms’ and ‘even threaten’. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.” He added that he had a date, 10 March, pencilled in for the start of military action. The war actually began on 20 March.

Mr Blair replied that he was “solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam.” But he also insisted that ” a second Security Council resolution would provide an insurance policy against the unexpected, and international cover, including with the Arabs” .

The memo appears to refute claims made in memoirs published by the former UK ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, who has accused Mr Blair of missing an opportunity to win the US over to a strategy based on a second UN resolution. It now appears Mr Bush’s mind was already made up.

There was also a discussion of what might happen in Iraq after Saddam had been overthrown. President Bush said that he “thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups”. Mr Blair did not respond. Details of the meeting are revealed in a book, Lawless World, published today by Philippe Sands, a professor of law at University College London.

“I think no one would be surprised at the idea that the use of spy planes to review what is going on would be considered,” Mr Sands told Channel 4 News last night. “What is surprising is the idea that they would be painted in the colours of the United Nations to provoke an attack which could then be used to justify material breach.

“Now that plainly looks as if it is deception, and it raises… questions of legality, both in terms of domestic law and international law.”

Other participants in the meeting were Mr Bush’s National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, her deputy, Dan Fried, the chief of staff, Andrew Card, Mr Blair’s then security adviser, Sir David Manning, his foreign policy aide, Matthew Rycroft, and his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell.

The Downing Street spokesman later said: “The Prime Minister only committed forces to Iraq after securing the approval of the Commons in the vote on 18 March 2003.”

The spokesman added: “All these matters have been thoroughly investigated and we stand by our position.”

* The Ministry of Defence will publish casualty figures for UK troops in Iraq on its website within the next few weeks, the Government disclosed last night. Defence Secretary John Reid said the figures ‘ which will be regularly updated ‘ would identify the number of personnel categorised as seriously injured and very seriously injured. He promised to alert MPs before the first publication of the figures. The pledge came in a Commons written reply.

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