Monday, April 14, 2008

Transcript: 60 Minutes Exposes Corrupt Iraqi Government

I ask again. Why are American troops fighting and dying to defend a hopelessly corrupt Iraq government? Someone should ask George Bush this question:

Electricity is still in short supply, medicines are available mainly through the black market, and there are long lines for fuel in a country that has the third largest oil reserves in the world. One of the biggest problems is corruption, which is robust even by Middle Eastern standards. According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, bribery and outright theft are flourishing in virtually every Iraqi ministry, and some of those ill-gotten gains are being used to kill American troops.

[...]This story begins 18 months ago, in the fall of 2006, when correspondent Steve Kroft first reported that more than a billion dollars from the previous Iraqi Defense Ministry had been wasted, stolen or misappropriated. The money was supposed to supply the new Iraqi army with desperately-needed equipment to fight the growing insurgency. But according to audits conducted by the Iraqi government, and to Judge Radhi al Radhi, Iraq's top anti-corruption official, millions were misspent on old and antiquated equipment and the rest simply disappeared.

Judge Radhi told Kroft that he estimated that "more than half" of the $1.3 billion had been stolen. "As we hear from some friends abroad, that they never heard of such corruption and embezzlement to such a degree," he said.

Radhi, who was imprisoned and tortured under Saddam Hussein, obtained arrest warrants for the former minister of defense and his top aides, who all fled the country. As Iraq's commissioner of public integrity, Radhi had one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. He launched investigations against 20 current and former ministers, alienating the political establishment to the point that parliament tried to fire him. He had 30 body guards and received constant death threats.

To the remark that lots of people would like to see him dead, Radhi told Kroft, "I don't care. That's their problem."

That was in 2006.

Today he's living with his extended family living in a small apartment with donated furniture in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The most public figure in Iraq's battle against corruption had finally been driven out of his job and his country and is now a refugee seeking asylum in the United States.

[...]Mattil says shortly after the unclassified report was leaked to the press last summer, the State Department decided to make it classified.

Asked for what reason it was classified, Mattil said, "The embarrassment factor, I would think."

But the State Department's decision to try and bury the report didn't change the facts in Iraq. In some cases, Mattil says the corruption involves outright theft of government funds, or bribery, with some of the money finding its way into the hands of insurgents or Iraqi militias.

"In other cases, it is the militias and insurgents themselves who control some of the ministries, who are involved in the corruption and funding their activities through these actions," Mattil said.

Asked if this is known and condoned by Prime Minister Maliki, Mattil said, "It's known and tolerated by the prime minister and other officials within the government."

Read the entire transcript of the broadcast...

Obama Bashes Hillary on her Sudden Pro-Gun Stance

Obama is fighting back against Hillary nauseating pandering and opportunism. She tried to take advantage of the criticism of Obama over his "bitter" remark. Now Barack is turning the tables on her. These remarks were made yesterday in Steelton,Pennsylvania:

Obama, who still holds a nine-point advantage over Clinton in the nationwide Gallup Poll, is battling back fiercely against Clinton, trying to regain the offensive after the disclosure of remarks he made at a San Francisco fundraiser that suggested working-class people are bitter about their economic circumstances and "cling to guns and religion" as a result.

On Sunday, Obama reiterated his regret for his choice of words at the fundraiser but suggested they had been twisted and mischaracterized.

He said he had expected an assault from Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain, but had been "a little disappointed" to be criticized by Clinton, mocking her vocal support for gun rights and saying her record in the Senate did not match her words on the campaign trail. The issue is likely to arise again Monday when both men address the annual meeting of the board of directors of The Associated Press in Washington.

"She knows better. Shame on her. Shame on her," Obama told an audience at a union hall here Sunday.

Obama noted that Clinton seemed much more interested in guns since he made his comments than she had in the past.

"She is running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment," Obama said, referring to the U.S. Constitution amendment that covers gun ownership rights.

"Hillary Clinton is out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday. She's packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better. That's some politics being played by Hillary Clinton," he said.

Clinton has told campaign audiences that she supports the rights of hunters. Saturday, she reminisced about learning to shoot on family vacations in Scranton, where her father grew up. She's also said she once shot a duck in Arkansas, where she served as first lady.

More from his speech yesterday:
"I just have to remind people of the track record," Obama said, noting Clinton accepted campaign contributions from PACs and drug and insurance industry lobbyists, which he does not.

"This is the same person who took money from financial folks on Wall Street and then voted for bankruptcy bill that makes it harder for folks right here in Pennsylvania to get a fair shake. Who do you think is out of touch?" Obama said.

"This is the same person who spent a decade with her husband campaigning for NAFTA, and now goes around saying she's opposed to NAFTA," Obama said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement that is widely unpopular in blue collar communities.

Obama is a victim of his atypical politician plain talk. Unlike Hillary, he doesn't depend on talking points. This is (as a talk show pundit pointed out this weekend) politicians always mince words. You get in trouble for speaking your mind honestly. The media jumps all over it every time. This from Alternet:
So now, Barack Obama tells the truth about conditions as we know them -- that the countryside and the small towns are dying in many places in our country, and that the corporatocracy doesn't care enough to do a thing about it. He points out that immigrant-baiting, gay-baiting, gun-baiting, and religious pandering have helped to destroy those towns and that countryside, that those being destroyed have been cynically enlisted by their very own destroyers to provide the votes that help accomplish the destruction. And this is what Senator Hillary Clinton says about it: "Senator Obama's remarks were elitist and out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans."

From Senator Clinton's remarks, I infer that to actually see what has gone on in the US in the last 20 years is unAmerican. It doesn't matter who you are, where you were born, what you pay in taxes, what else you might have contributed to the culture, how you vote, who you support. If you don't support fundamentalist religion, job outsourcing, and free access to guns, then you are not even American.