Thursday, July 08, 2010

Did the Justice Dept cut the wrong deal?

In an e-mail message this week to the Baghdad press corps, America's chief military spokesman Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza took us to task for what he implied was our negative reports on the state of the country.
Disparate Viewpoints
"As I review news coverage of Iraq, I thought it would be helpful to provide you with my perspective," he wrote. "Iraqis are embracing their version of democracy."
He continued: "There is political debate as party leaders work to form a new government. The population has been united in its commitment to representative government, just as it was united in its rejection of violence and attempts to ignite sectarian violence. Are we witnessing political rhetoric? To be sure. Isn't that natural following a close election?"
BBC correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse responded in an open letter: "You say that Iraqis are 'embracing their version of democracy.' I expect you might have quite a hard time finding someone at the market who would describe his or her relationship to Iraq's democracy in this way."
He wrote: "Four months after the election, with no new government in sight, the majority of people I have spoken to are deeply frustrated with their experience of democracy. Surely, they ask, democracy is about more than that one day every four or five years, when we go to put out crosses on a ballot paper? Surely it is about the ability to hold our representatives to account and make them work on our behalf? This is not the experience most Iraqis have with democracy so far."

The above is from Lourdes Garcia-Navarro's "Iraq's Prospects Seem As Grim As Its Recent Past" (NPR). It's a text report. We noted it in yesterday's snapshot but we'll note it again. Operation Happy Talk never ends. It doesn't matter which party is in charge of the White House, they all want to sell their wars.

We're opening with a US Justice Dept press release on US Maj Charles Sublett who has copped a plea "to making false statements to a federal agency" and, as you read through, ask the obvious (the obvious isn't dealt with in the press release):

WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Major Charles E. Sublett, 46, of Huntsville, Ala., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Memphis, Tenn., to making false statements to a federal agency, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
Sublett was charged in an indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on Jan. 5, 2010, following his arrest in Huntsville. According to the indictment, Sublett smuggled more than $100,000 in currency, concealed in a shipping package, into the United States from Iraq in January 2005.
According to the indictment, Sublett was deployed to Balad Regional Contracting Center on Logistical Support Area (LSA) Anaconda in Iraq from August 2004 through February 2005. LSA Anaconda is a U.S. military installation that was established in 2003 to support U.S. military operations in Iraq. According to the indictment, Sublett served as a contracting officer while deployed to LSA Anaconda. As a contracting officer, Sublett was responsible for, among other things, evaluating and supervising contracts with companies that provide goods and services to the U.S. Army.
Sublett admitted that, on Jan. 11, 2005, he sent a package from Balad, Iraq, to Killeen, Texas, which was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Memphis. Sublett admitted that, on the international air waybill, he falsely described the contents of the package as books, papers, a jewelry box and clothes with a total declared customs value of $140 when, in fact, Sublett knew the package contained $107,900 in U.S. currency and 17,120,000 in Iraqi dinar. Sublett also admitted that he failed to file a currency or monetary instruments transaction report (CMIR) as required by federal law when transporting currency in amounts of more than $10,000 into or out of the United States. During the plea hearing, Sublett admitted to making false claims to investigators regarding his attempt to bring the currency into the United States in an effort to impede their investigation.
The maximum penalty for making false statements to a government agency is five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, to be followed by a term of up to three years of supervised release. Sublett is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 8, 2010. As part of the plea agreement, Sublett also consented to the forfeiture of the $107,900 and the 17,120,000 Iraqi dinar that he concealed in the package.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Daniel A. Petalas and Justin V. Shur of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section. This case is being investigated by Army Criminal Investigation Command; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the FBI; Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The package contained $107,900 US dollars (in addition to Iraqi dinars)? Where did the money come from? Why isn't that the press release. Why is he being allowed to cop a plea to a minor charge when most likely we're dealing with theft/embezzlement of US government money?

Lawrence Buser (Commercial Appeal) reports, "There was no allegation that the money was stolen and prosecutors would not say why the case took five years to be indicted." Of course, because US Army Majors have over $100,000 in their pockets -- and it's legal which is why he attempted to illegally send it into the US? What's next? Claiming he only violated Article 133 and won it by gambling with GIs?

And which money was it? Was it petty cash? (That's a lot of petty cash.) Someone over supply contracts in Iraq?

Are these CERP funds? For those late to the party, DoD Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble described Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) to the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) on February 2, 2009:

CERP funds are appropriated through the DoD and allocted through each major command's sector of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Up to $500,000 can be allocated to individual CERP projects, and CERP beneficiaries often receive payments in cash. We have also identified occasions where soldiers with limited contracting experience were responsible for administering CERP funds. In some instances, there appeared to be scant, if any, oversight of the manner in which funds were expended. Complicating matters further is the fact that payment of bribes and gratuities to government officials is a common business practice in some Southwest Asia nations. Taken in combination, these factors result in an environment conducive to bribery and corruption.

CERP was an issue during the September 10, 2008 House Armed Services Committee hearing (and see this entry by Mike). This is Committe Chair Ike Skelton's exchange with DoD's Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric S. Edelman:

Skelton: The issue raises two serious questions of course. Number one is they have a lot of money of their own. And number two the choice of the type of projects that are being paid for. I would like to ask Mr. Secretary if our committee could receive a list of expenditures of $100,000 or more within the last year. Could you do that for us at your convience please?

Edelman: We'll work with our colleagues in the controller's office and - and . . . to try and get you --

Skelton: That would be very helpful.

Was the list provided?

Who is providing oversight?

Shouldn't be the Dept of Justice via charges and plea bargains.

How did someone over contracts end up with $179,000 dollars -- sequentially numbered, one-hundred dollar bills, by the way? How did he end with that money? Who'd he steal it from? He copped a minor plea that's probably going to see him in prison for 2 years -- a federal prison (meaning a nice one). Why did the feds agree to this plea? That's nonsense. He stole the money, he should have been prosecuted for theft. He stole US tax payer money -- over a hundred thousand dollars worth -- and he gets a slap on the wrist of no more than three years behind bars.

Deshawn Lamont Thomas is in trouble "for robbing and beating former NFL player Javon Walker," AP informs us but, more to the point, Thomas "was sentenced in April in Las Vegas in another case to five years in Nevada prison for the theft of a tourist's designer watch." Stealing a watch -- a designer watch -- resulted in five years prison -- state prison. Stealing over $100,000 of US tax payer money gets you what?

And here's a better question: Where's his court-martial?

He's an officer. A US major. He's supposed to be upholding certain standards and he's not, he's clearly not. Think of the way the military brass has gone after war resisters. Think of the way they tried to subvert the US Constitution in order to go after Lt Ehren Watada. But theft of over $100,000 and the man's still a US major? Not "a former US major today entered a plea . . ." War resisters are routinely stripped of any benefits by the military brass. So why hasn't Maj Charles Sublett been stripped of his rank, his benefits and been given dishonorable discharge?
Or does the code of conduct only to apply to those with a conscience?

In other crazy, Amy Goodman yacks it up on the same old topic yet again. There's no bravery there. And it doesn't conceal the fact that the coward and enabler has never taken on the counterinsurgency strategy pimped by the US military. Grasp for a moment that The Diane Rehm Show devoted a full hour to it. Grasp that Amy Goodman has refused -- all these years -- to call out counterinsurgency. If she and others did their job maybe Justin Wingerter wouldn't look so silly offering an 'informed' opinion today which includes trashing Lara Logan for not including "testimony by former Petraeus adviser David Kilcullen, who said, 'The drone attacks take too many civilian lives'." Who the hell gives a damn what he has to say? Since when was Mr. Australia the voice of American reason?

There's no reason Lara Logan should have included that idiot in any report. And it's very sad that a student is holding this counterinsurgency guru up as a 'model'. There is nothing 'model' or 'romantic' about war on a native people. Counterinsurgency is what was used to colonize. It was used in Vietnam and called out by every human rights activist. For some stupid reason, some of the biggest critics -- who are still around -- are too damn chicken to call it out today. Take one time Peace Queen now Piss Queen Joan Baez. Baez decided 2008 was the time to make her first presidential endorsement. And Baez decided the candidate to go with was the one who not only supported counterinsurgency but the one who had all the Carr Center creeps as advisers.

It's a real shame that the elders who should be providing guidance are providing none. That's how a bad student column gets written. That and the student's infatuation with a [. . .] which leads the student to follow the [. . .] lead in attacking Lara Logan. (For the record, Logan was not the first to criticize -- to harshly criticize -- Michael Hasting's article.) The student's column indicates he hasn't read Hastings' article -- if he had, he wouldn't be quoting and citing David Kilcullen.

But, to repeat, this information is supposed to come from the elders. But they're too busy cowering. Tom Hayden will whine that he covered it! He did! He knows he did!

Yes, Tom, you wrote one weak-ish column. It is certainly more than anyone else did. And if you'd ever followed it up in all the years since, we'd give you a gold star. As it is, you wrote one weak column approximately four years ago and never said a peep. Not even when advising people to vote for the man advised by those Carr Center War Hawks.

At Peace Action Jon and Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan have posted videos of some of the actions this week.

And Elaine's "Sexism & Dave Lindorff."

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends