Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Corruption punished? Only if Nouri says so

In Iraq, Parliament's Integrity Committee held a press conference Monday. Dar Addustour reports that among the findings spoken of was that many "Ministers and agents and ministries and general managers and senior officers in the army" had taken part in corruption. They have names for the money wasted buying 'wands' that allegedly detected bombs (if you held the wand just so and stomped your feet on the ground) but those names may or may not be made public. The Committee noted that the British Foreign Office vouched for those wands. (The wands were made by a British company.) In addition, though the US military always ridiculed the wands (and were correct to do so), there was an effort on the part of Americans to push Iraq to buy spare parts for these wands from US companies. Committee member Edoganp Nassif noted that civilian aircraft was purchased which is "unfit for flight" and the Committee states this corruption is via the son of an unnamed official. Al Rafidayn adds that the Committee is in possesion of 9,003 documents and that the names of 35 officials have been passed on for further investigation by legal authorities. Enas Tariq (Al Mada) argues that it makes no difference that it's "a moral crime" or a a misdemeanor, the climate of culture is so entrenched with so many living parasites sucking the life out of the system. Tariq argues this leads to further resentment on the part of the citizenry and continued corruption and that the orruption is now moving into the media where "material rewards" are exchanged for silences on the part of reporters who print only what the officials tell them to.

If you're optimistic that the Committee's findings might amount to anything, read Ali Hussein's Al Mada report which notes that it's not for nothing Iraq has made the list of the most corrupt countires in the world and that one of the historic decisions was a law providing the prime minister (Nouri al-Maliki) with the right to decide whether or not corrupt employees are referred to the judiciary. Meanwhile Al Rafidayn notes that Nouri has pulled Kahlid al-Obedi's name as nominee for Minister of Defense (95% of Iraqiya voted against al-Obedi) and is seeking a new nominee.

In other news, New Sabah reports Ayad Allawi is stating that the ones resonsible for for the mass murder in "Falluja I and Falluja II" are the ones calling for an investigation into his actions (he was prime minister when the US assaulted Falluja in 2004). He says those who spoke the accusations live "in glass houses." He also states that he is ready to go before the Iraqi people with any accusation of his actions.

I don't see this in the print edition but, online, Tim Arango (New York Times) has a paragraph about the recent deaths in Iraq of US service members. He counts four. 2 were announced dead on Sunday, 1 yesterday. I'll assume he's dropping back to March 21st for the fourth. From yesterday's snapshot:

Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A U.S. service member died April 3 in a non-hostile incident in northern Iraq. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of deceased service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are published on the website no earlier than 24 hours following notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." Today's announcement follows yesterday's: "Two U.S. service members died April 2 of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." Dar Addustour reported on the two deaths and noted that "indirect fire" usually means mortars or rockets. The paper added that a Babel police source reports 3 rockets hit/landed on the US military base Camp Kalsu in Iskandariya. Those three deaths bring to 26 the number of US service members who have died serving in Iraq since August 31st when Barack Obama declared combat operations over. Cpl Brandon Hocking died March 21st in an enemy attack and was buried March 29th. He died ten days before he was scheduled to return home. Brandon Hocking's family spoke to Eric Wilkinson (KING 5 News). His father Kevin Hocking said, "We were counting down the days not only for him to bet back but for him to be moved up here for his family to be around him." He worries that Iraq has become the forgotten war and stated, "I don't want him forgot. I don't want any of them to be forgot." Megan McCloskey (Stars and Stripes) speaks with the family and Brandon's sister Britney explains that when she tells people about her brother's death, "I've actually had people ask me: 'Do you mean Afghanistan?'" McCloskey observes, "Iraq was once the dominant story on any given front page and nightly newscast. Today, attention has dropped to less than 1 percent of the daily news, according to the Pew Research Center."

Yesterday's news cycle also included the attacks on Iraqi journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes:

In Iraq today, security forces arrested Murtadha al-Shahtour, media director of Al-Nasiriyya's police department and a regular contributor to the independent daily Azzaman and other news websites. On January 2, al-Shahtour published an article on the website Kitabat in which he criticized government policies related to security issues. Kitabat said that al-Shatour's detention stems from the January 2 article; the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), a local press freedom group, concurred.

Security forces arrested Raya Hamma Karim, a correspondent for the independent weekly Hawlati and Niyaz Abdullah, a journalist and a board member of JFO, in Iraqi Kurdistan today, news reports said. Both were covering student protests at a university in Arbil.

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