Friday, May 03, 2013

Shouldn't Nouri be getting ten years behind bars as well?

Ammar Karim (AFP) has a report with explosive implications (plural).  The wands to 'detect' bombs (and drugs and, no doubt, spirits from the other world) are still being used in Iraq.  He speaks with a police officer in Baghdad who admits that everyone knows that they don't work but that the police are under orders to use the wands.

At the start of November 2009, Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported on these 'bomb detectors' in use in Iraq: "The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works 'on the same principle as a Ouija board' -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wantd as nothing more than an explosive divining rod."

Dropping back to January 25, 2010:

Riyad Mohammed and Rod Norldand (New York Times) reported on Saturday that the reaction in Iraq was outrage from officials and they quote MP Ammar Tuma stating, "This company not only caused grave and massive losses of funds, but it has caused grave and massive losses of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, by the hundreds and thousands, from attacks that we thought we were immune to because we have this device."  Despite the turn of events, the machines continue to be used in Iraq but 'now' an investigation into them will take place orded by Nouri. As opposed to months ago when they were first called into question. Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) adds that members of Parliament were calling for an end to use of the machines on Saturday.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) notes the US military has long -- and publicly -- decried the use of the machines,  "The US military has been scathing, claiming the wands contained only a chip to detect theft from stores. The claim was based on a study released in June by US military scientists, using x-ray and laboratory analysis, which was passed on to Iraqi officials."

From the April 24, 2013 snapshot:

Onto England.  Yesterday, Melanie Hall (Telegraph of London) reported that the "useless devices, based on novelty golf-ball finders worth less than 13 pounds," were sold to "the Iraqi government, the United Nations, Kenyan police, Hong Kong prison service, the Egyptian army, Thailand's border control and Saudi Arabia" for "as much as 27,000 pounds."  13 pounds today would be about $19.86 US dollars.  27,000 pounds?  $41,247.83 US dollars.  A device that cost less than 20 dollars to make was sold at about a 2,000% mark up -- the greed and the duplicity are usually intertwined.   But what was so worthless?  The 'bomb detectors.'  These are the devices that are a wand you hold and you then stand by or behind something (like a car) and basically jog in place and the wand, magically, let's you know if there's a bomb or not.
[. . .]
The wands didn't work, they were never going to work.  The liar who sold them, and got rich off them, Jim McCormick, was convicted yesterday.   Robert Booth and Meirion Jones (Guardian) report, "A jury at the Old Bailey found Jim McCormick, 57, from near Taunton, Somerset, guilty on three counts of fraud over a scam that included the sale of £55m of devices based on a novelty golfball finder to Iraq. They were installed at checkpoints in Baghdad through which car bombs and suicide bombers passed, killing hundreds of civilians. Last month they remained in use at checkpoints across the Iraqi capital."

Yesterday, McCormick was sentenced to a maxium of 10 years.  Jake Ryan (Sun) quoted Judge Richard Hone stating, "The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category.  Your profits were obscene.  You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse."

Guess who else has neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse?

Nouri al-Maliki.

Robert Booth (Guardian) noted yesterday that Saad al-Muttalibi ("adviser to Nouri al-Maliki) is insisting Nouri's considering suing on behalf of the victims.  We noted, "Actually, the families of the victims should be suing Nouri for allowing those things to be used for the last years, even after the wands were globally revealed to be a joke."

That was bad enough.

But now AFP reports that the wands are still being used.  That police are unders to use them?

This is clearly Nouri al-Maliki's fault because he is prime minister.  Though they were exposed as fraudulent in 2009, he continued to allow them to be used and even while his adviser says Nouri's thinking about suing, Nouri's still allowing them to be used.

The police issue means it's not just the prime minister.  Orders for the police in Baghdad would come from the Minister of the Interior.

So that means the prime minister shares  the blame with the Minister of the Interior.

The sad news for Nouri is that his paranoia that convinced him there would be a coup, the paranoia that led to his power-grab at the start of his second term, means he's the Minister of the Interior.

He's never nominated anyone for that post.  That means he controls it.  Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." 

Last month, Transparency International's Leah Wawro observed, "The hundreds that are estimated to have died because of these useless devices are the most visible victims of this crime. But the impact of this type of systemic, high-level corruption extends beyond that immediate loss of life. A quick glance at the UNDP website for Iraq shows how bad services are for normal Iraqis: 75% identify poverty as the most pressing need; 20% of Iraqis cannot read or write; just 26% of the population has access to the public sewage network. Would those numbers, and lives, be different if that £55 million had been spent in a transparent way on education, infrastructure, and enterprise? How many lives could have been saved if the £55million the Iraqi government wasted were spent on effective bomb detection mechanisms?"

Those are questions that now need to be directed to Nouri al-Maliki. 

He has put -- and continues to put -- Iraqis at risk with the use of these 'magic' wands. 

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