Big Profits in Weapons Sales

In recent testimony before Congress, General David Petraeus testified that the United States is planning to sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to Iraq, which has become one of the United States’ larger foreign military sales (FMS) customers.

Iraq has reportedly committed 1.6 billion dollars to FMS already, and may possibly commit 1.8 billion dollars more before the end of this year.

That’s good news and big profits for arms manufacturers in the United States and Britain, but as noted by Mark Benjamin from Salon, “good business doesn’t necessarily equal good foreign policy.”

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (PDF) found that the United States, under General Petraeus’s watch, has not been able to keep track of 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 80,000 Glock pistols, 135,000 pieces of body armor and 115,000 Kevlar helmets issued to Iraqi security forces. Some of the U.S. weapons sold to the Iraqi government were found in Turkey where they were linked to violent crimes.

In June U.S. officials acknowledged that they were arming Sunni groups who promised to fight Al-Qaeda. According to two Senior fellows from the Center for American Progress, the short-sighted strategy of the Bush Administration is actually contributing to the deterioration of the security situation in Iraq:

The U.S. is arming different sides in multiple civil wars that could and probably will turn more vicious in coming years and, billions of dollars of U.S. military assistance is going to Iran. According to the report, recent statistics also show that the more training and equipment provided by the U.S. to Iraqi security forces, the more the violence in the country increases.

Weapons Given To Iraq Used to Commit Turkish Crimes

Pentagon officials said weapons supplied to Iraqi security forces by the U.S. military have reportedly been recovered over the past year by Turkish authorities after they were used in violent crimes in Turkey.

Turkish officials contend that Iraqi security forces or Kurdish officials were either giving or selling the weapons to Kursish separatists, but the Pentagon said they don’t have evidence to support that, and that it was possible that the weapons were stolen or lost during firefights, then smuggled into Turkey once they were sold on the Iraqi black market for firearms. Naturally, there are widely varied estimates of how many weapons were found in Turkey.

U.S. oversight agencies have found serious discrepancies over the past year in military records of where thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces have actually ended up.

General David Petraeus was in charge of training and equipping Iraqi forces in 2004 and 2005 when the U.S. was rushing to build police and army units with apparently very little oversight. Petraeus, now the U.S. commander in Iraq, said that the imperative to provide weapons to Iraqi forces was more important at the time than maintaining impeccable records…apparently nothing has changed over the years.

Links to More Information

As usual, links to all the referenced material as well as a whole lot more can be found below:

PBS: Weapons of U.S. soldiers in Iraq ‘plagued with problems’ article from Raw Story:

“The M-16, the choice rifle of the United States Armed Forces, turns 50 years old this month and is still plagued by many of the same problems it had half a century ago, putting American troops in Iraq at a severe disadvantage when it comes to small arms combat, the PBS program Newshour reported tonight.”

Wounded Vets Also Suffer Financial Woes article from Yahoo! News / The Associated Press:

“He was one of America’s first defenders on Sept. 11, 2001, a Marine who pulled burned bodies from the ruins of the Pentagon. He saw more horrors in Kuwait and Iraq.

Today, he can’t keep a job, pay his bills, or chase thoughts of suicide from his tortured brain. In a few weeks, he may lose his house, too.

Gamal Awad, the American son of a Sudanese immigrant, exemplifies an emerging group of war veterans: the economic casualties.”

The Military Drills of September 11th: Why a New Investigation is Needed article (with extremely thorough documentation) from Global Research Canada

Snipers Baited and Killed Iraqis, Soldiers Testify article from The New York Times

U.S. Military is ‘Baiting’ Insurgents in Iraq article from the Washington Post:

“A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of “bait,” such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.

The classified program was described in investigative documents related to recently filed murder charges against three snipers who are accused of planting evidence on Iraqis they killed.”

Soldier Tells of Shooting Unarmed Iraqi article from Yahoo! News / The Associated Press:

“BAGHDAD – A U.S. soldier cried Thursday as he told a court-martial that his staff sergeant ordered him to shoot an unarmed Iraqi. He said the sergeant then laughed and told the trooper to finish the job as the dying man convulsed on the ground.”

State Department: Corruption in Iraq is Classified article from Yahoo! News / The Nation:

(More ways to try to hide our illegal activities, not to mention complete ineptitude, from the public)

“The State Department refused to turn over the documents and said no to the interview requests. Then it slightly changed its tune. Joel Starr, the deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, notified Waxman that his committee could interview the State Department officials, but anything they had to say about corruption within the Iraqi government would be classified–meaning Waxman could not disclose that information to the public.

How can information about criminal waste and fraud in another government be considered a state secret in the United States?”

Talking Points Memo – State Department Classifies Publicly Available Corruption Document article from TPMmuckraker

Private Security Puts Diplomats, Military at Odds article from The Washington Post:

“According to federal spending data compiled by the independent Web site FedSpending.org, however, the State Department’s Blackwater contracts vastly exceed those of the Pentagon. Since 2004, State has paid Blackwater $833,673,316, compared with Defense Department contracts of $101,219,261.”

Author: Bush nominee helped mask FBI’s pre-9/11 failures and kept al Qaeda’s infilitration of U.S. intelligence from view article from Raw Story:

“If Mohamed had been called to the stand and cross-examined in open court, defense lawyers could have ripped open the scandal of how the FBI failed to stop the first Trade Center attack. More important, they could have exposed the depth and breadth of al Qaeda’s shocking plan to attack America, six years before 9/11.”

Iraqis: Video shows Blackwater fired 1st article from MSNBC News

Why Blackwater and More Should Leave Iraq article from Time Magazine

Ray McGovern: Bush, Oil and Moral Bankruptcy article from Counter Punch – The truth is out there. Can we handle it? article:

“On Sept. 23, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned pointedly:

“If we escalate tensions, if we succumb to hysteria, if we start making threats, we are likely to stampede ourselves into a war [with Iran], which most reasonable people agree would be a disaster for us…I think the administration, the president and the vice president particularly, are trying to hype the atmosphere, and that is reminiscent of what preceded the war in Iraq.”

“The Bush policy toward the Middle East is at the same time consistent with, and a marked departure from, the U.S. approach since the end of World War II. Given ever-growing U.S. dependence on imported oil, priority has always been given to ensuring the uninterrupted supply of oil, as well as securing the state of Israel. The U.S. was by and large successful in achieving these goals through traditional diplomacy and commerce. Granted, it would overthrow duly elected governments, when it felt it necessary-as in Iran in 1953, after its president nationalized the oil. But the George W. Bush administration is the first to start a major war to implement U.S. policy in the region.”

Blackwater, Oil and the Colonial Enterprise article from Yahoo! News

Oil, Oil, Trouble, Trouble, Mr. Hunt Broke Bush’s Bubble article from OpEdNews

Bush Urges UN to Refocus on Human Rights, Freedom article from Bloomberg (no, it’s not an oxymoron)

U.S. to let detainees get lawyers article from MSNBC News / The Washington Post:

“WASHINGTON – Fourteen “high-value” terrorism suspects who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from secret CIA prisons last year have been formally offered the right to request lawyers, a move that could allow them to join other detainees in challenging their status as enemy combatants in a U.S. appellate court.

The move, confirmed by Defense Department officials, will allow the suspects their first contact with anyone other than their captors and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross since they were taken into custody.”

Guantanamo detainees tell of abuses article from Yahoo! News

Contracts doled out to rebuild Iraq are questioned article from the Seattle PI

The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury article from Rolling Stone Magazine:

“How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins — he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq.”

Hardblogger by Chris Matthews on MSNBC – The ’36 nations’ helping us on Iraq article

Nation & World from the Seattle Times – Lack of jobs, services is missing from Iraq discussion article

What Defines A Killing As Sectarian article from MSNBC News / Washington Post:

(Also known as how to twist the numbers around to make it look like you’re making progress in a war started with lies and deception)

“On Sept. 1, the bullet-riddled bodies of four Iraqi men were found on a Baghdad street. Two days later, a single dead man, with one bullet in his head, was found on a different street. According to the U.S. military in Iraq, the solitary man was a victim of sectarian violence. The first four were not.

Such determinations are the building blocks for what the Bush administration has declared a downward trend in sectarian deaths and a sign that its war strategy is working. They are made by a specialized team of soldiers who spend their nights at computer terminals, sifting through data on the day’s civilian victims for clues to the motivations of killers.”

Bush Says He Will Fire Anyone Who Breaks Law article from MSNBC News:

(Except for his Vice President or Advisor … as usual, more lies and deception)

“WASHINGTON – President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will “no longer work in my administration.” His statement represented a shift from a previous comment, when he said that he would fire anyone shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of a CIA officer.”

Report Says Hussein Was Open To Exile Before 2003 Invasion article from The Washington Post:

“Less than a month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein signaled that he was willing to go into exile as long as he could take with him $1 billion and information on weapons of mass destruction, according to a report of a Feb. 22, 2003, meeting between President Bush and his Spanish counterpart published by a Spanish newspaper yesterday.

The meeting at Bush’s Texas ranch was a planning session for a final diplomatic push at the United Nations. The White House was preparing to introduce a tough new Security Council resolution to pressure Hussein, but most council members saw it as a ploy to gain their authorization for war.”

Saddam Wanted Out, Bush Lied About It article and video from Crooks and Liars

Speaking Truth To Power: The End of America — The Police State is Right Here, Right Now article from Vermont Commons:

“As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwilling victims of the darkness.

~Justice William O. Douglas~

In the “10 easy steps” outlined by Wolf, countries move from open to closed and repressive societies by devolving past certain markers, and Wolf makes a powerful case for the way in which the United States is following a similar pattern without any significant deviation. In each instance she compares and contrasts how America’s adherence to the pattern compares or contrasts with the pattern in pre-World War II Germany. The 10 steps are:

• Invoking an external and internal threat
• Establishing secret prisons
• Developing a paramilitary force
• Surveiling ordinary citizens
• Infiltrating citizens’ groups
• Arbitrarily detaining and releasing citizens
• Targeting key individuals
• Restricting the press
• Casting criticism as “espionage” and dissent as “treason”
• Subverting the rule of law”

(Sure sounds eerily familiar….)

Letterman: It’s kind of hard to tell Iran, US Presidents apart article and video from Raw Story

Bush Administration Flooding Iraqi Black Market With Billions of Dollars In Weapons article from Think Progress

Guns, not roses, for Iraq article from Salon

Record Profits at Halliburton article from RodOnline

BAE profits soar to more than £1bn article from The Guardian UK

U.S. Weapons Meant for Iraq Used In Turkish Crimes article from the International Herald Tribune

DoD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces report (PDF) from the U.S. Government Accountability Office

U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies article from the New York Times

Strategic Reset: Reclaiming Control of U.S. Security in the Middle East article from the Center for American Progress

Learning From Bush’s Mistakes: How a prewar conversation can help us pick the next president article from Salon

Dan Rather vs. CBS, and the truth about George W. Bush article from Salon

How Texas lawmakers vote video from YouTube (more like how many times can lawmakers vote on the same amendment?)

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