Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Corruption . . . and it's close to Nouri

For the first time since modern Iraq was founded in the 1920s, a sitting government minister has been questioned publicly about corruption allegations, in this case about skimming millions of dollars from a national food-distribution program while ordinary Iraqis went hungry.
The parliamentary grilling of Trade Minister Abdul Falah al Sudany ran live Saturday and Sunday on state television, and everyone in Baghdad seems to have been watching.

The above is from Jack Dolan's "Corruption probe appalls -- and encourages -- Iraqis" (McClatchy Newspapers) and, surprisingly, the New York Times hasn't been on this story. But they did pimp Good Times For Nouri yesterday. (And they offer nothing from Iraq today.) As Dolan notes, al-Sudani is a member of Nouri's Dawa party. Corruption in Nouri's party and yesterday the Times was a twitter over Nouri's chances at breezing through parliamentary elections (now pushed back to January from December). Natalia Antelava (BBC) adds:

The ministry of trade is accused of making millions by selling the food aid to traders instead of giving it away.
In late April the anti-corruption committee sent a police unit to deliver arrest warrants for senior trade ministry officials, including the minister's two brothers.
But the police were greeted by shots fired into the air by the ministry's own guards. During the brief shoot out that followed, the officials, including the brothers, escaped through a back gate.
One of the brothers has since been caught, but the minister denies allegations of wrong-doing.
"Is this what you call democracy? Government officials are getting rich off the back of our misery," one buyer in Shorja market said.

Alsumaria is among the news outlets Iraqis can turn to for news and they are reporting today:

Attention given recently to uncover corruption raises many questions despite the importance to fight this negative occurrence. Unveiling corruption is a mission to save the nation not individuals, thus everyone involved should be held accountable. Most importantly, politics should be kept out of the picture giving place to parliamentarian and judicial accountability.
While the first put under questioning was Trade Minister Abdul Fallah Al Sudani, yet, interrogation will save no one who is expected to be implicated in any kind of corruption, bribery or shortcoming.
After more than 100 lawmakers signed on revoking the confidence vote of Trade Minister Abdul Fallah Al Sudani, the confidence vote session will be held a week after submitting the request to the Parliament presidency committee which will take the decision by a small majority.

Thomas Ferraro (Reuters) reports that the Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a hearing today on KRB's 'business' in Iraq with a source telling Ferraro that it will explore "tens of millions of dollars in bonuses" KBR has received.

Sara notes World Can't Wait's "May 28 National Day of Resistance to U.S. Torture"

For those who can't stream or who need closed captioning when they do, we'll drop back to this from World Can't Wait on the same topic. This is their earlier text statement, "Thursday MAY 28 National Day of Resistance to U.S. TORTURE!:"

On or by May 28, the Obama administration is being forced to release 2000 photos of detainee abuse in US facilities from 2001-2006. The Abu Ghraib photos, released in 2004 only because a solider was horrified over the torture, brought an international storm of protest against the US torture state. The new photos, including many from Bagram, where the detention facilities have just been doubled to hold 60,000 Afganis, will show that US torture was widespread, sustained, and systemic, not an "aberration," but an integral part of the "global war on terror."

Weeks after 4 more torture memos revealed the detail with which George Bush's lawyers managed the torture of individual detainees, calls to prosecute those responsible -- from the White House principals, to the legal torture team, to the CIA agents who tortured -- have met objections from Washington. Cheney and the open advocates of torture scream that they must be able to use "harsh methods" to win the global war on terror. The Obama administration, after deciding to continue indefinite detention, CIA rendition, and Bush's executive powers, says prosecution would stop them from "moving forward." Democratic party leader Nancy Pelosi knew about the torture and waterboarding since 2002, saying and doing nothing to stop it..
It's up to the people to act! World Can't Wait and other groups are planning non-violent civil resistance protests, programs digging into the substance of the charges, waterboarding and rendition re-enactments, and film showings in communities around the country to demand prosecution of the Bush era war criminals. More information, listings, posters, flyers & background on the war criminals at
Wherever the Bush era war criminals are appearing this month, raise the cry "Torture is a War Crime! Prosecute!"

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