Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Price For Exposing Corruption in Iraq

There are brave soldiers and Americans who step forward on occasion to report abuse, corruption, fraud and an assortment of other activities that would land most Americans in jail for their crimes.

There brave individuals are seldom rewarded for their honesty and loyalty to the country they serve. Instead many find themselves in more trouble than any criminal would ever go through.

Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods. He was told very little about why he was there.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

Vance thought he was doing his Patriotic duty when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

For his efforts, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Corruption has often occurred in Iraq reconstruction. Hundreds of projects will never be finished, including repairs to the country’s oil pipelines and electricity system. Congress gave more than $30 billion to rebuild Iraq, and at least $8.8 billion of it has disappeared, according to a government reconstruction audit.

The Project on Government Oversight says they will never find out what corruption is going on if people fail to come forward and reveal such abuses. The problem is the U.S government is sending a message to anyone involved, if you tell you will pay dearly.

The highest-ranking civilian contracting officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bunny Greenhouse testified before a congressional committee in 2005 that she found widespread fraud in multi billion-dollar rebuilding contracts awarded to former Halliburton subsidiary KBR.

Greenhouse was quickly demoted after she told of her findings of corruption. She now sits isolated in a small area for a workstation waiting for the other shoe to drop, all because she revealed what any good American should if they found such illegalities.

Julie McBride worked as a “morale, welfare and recreation coordinator” at Camp Fallujah, she saw KBR inflate costs by double and triple counting the number of soldiers who used recreational facilities.She also said the company took supplies destined for a Super Bowl party for U.S. troops and instead used them to stage a celebration for themselves.

McBride voiced her concerns about what she believed to be accounting fraud, Halliburton placed her under guard and kept her in seclusion,” she told the committee. Her property was searched, and she was told that she was not allowed to speak to any member of the U.S. military. She remained under guard until she was flown out of the country. Halliburton and KBR denied her testimony in court.

The Bush administration was quick to give many no bid contracts to Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater and many other corporations loyal to the Bush/Cheney conglomerate of business elite.

The U.S government either fails or refuses to monitor where taxpayer dollars go involving the Iraqi reconstruction. Bush regularly seeks and receives billions of dollars from Congress to supposedly rebuild the country he has completely destroyed.

These are a few of the countless stories coming to light of what innocent people go through if they expose corruption inside George W Bush's war in Iraq. Each story is similar in nature and telling about why the U.S is really in Iraq.

As thousands of American and Iraqi lives are taken as a results of Bush's onslaught of destruction, the rebuilding is continually being delayed, more U.S funds are filtered into the hands of corporate allies of Bush.

How long will the war in Iraq last? It will last as long as Congress sits idly by and allows American citizens to be thrown in prison, demoted from their jobs and financially destroyed for doing what Congress should do.

If honest Americans are punished and abused for revealing massive corruption within the Bush administration and their corporate allies, what does that say about our government?

Image by Stephen Pitt Cartoons