U.S. President George W. Bush jetted to Baghdad on Tuesday for a surprise visit designed to boost Iraq’s new unity government and build on political momentum gained from the killing last week of al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
“I have come to not only look you in the eye,” Bush told Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, “I’ve also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word.”
Bush made the unannounced trip under intense security and planned it with the same extreme secrecy that preceded his previous visit to Iraq, on Thanksgiving Day in 2003.
Only Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld knew of Bush’s plans in advance.
Al-Maliki, who had expected to speak with Bush on Tuesday via teleconference, was told of Bush’s impending visit only after the U.S. president had safely arrived in Baghdad’s tightly secured Green Zone.
Think about that for a second. A foreign head of state visits the capital of a supposedly sovereign nation, and its leaders are not even informed of the fact. What does that say to the citizens of Iraq about the true nature of their government? It cannot help but to create and/or reinforce the image of the Iraqi government as a collection of marionettes controlled by the American occupier, clumsily going through the motions of governing, but doomed to collapse once the puppet master tires and leaves. Once again, President Bush has been exposed being photographed with a prop. This time, the prop was not a turkey, or firefighters, or even the deck of an aircraft carrier. This time, the prop turned out to be the Iraqi government.
During the days of the Nixon Watergate scandal investigation, reporter Bob Woodword was famously advised by his mysterious source, Deep Throat, to “follow the money” as a way of cracking the story.
Well, there is a lot of money to follow in the current scandal that can be best described as the Bush/Cheney administration, and so far, nobody’s doing it.
My bet for the place that needs the most following is the more than $9 billion that has gone missing without a trace in Iraq–as well as $12 billion in cash that the Pentagon flew into Iraq straight from Federal Reserve vaults via military transports, and for which there has been little or no accounting.
As word of massive corruption began to surface in 2003, Congress passed legislation creating an office of Inspector General, assuming that this new agency would monitor the spending on the occupation and reconstruction, and figure why all so much taxpayer money was disappearing, and why only minimal reconstruction was going on in destroyed Iraq, instead of a massive rebuilding program as intended. Bush named an old friend and supporter, Stuart Bowen, to the post–a move that should have put Congress on alert, given this administration’s long history of putting cronies in positions of authority.
When the Coalition Provisional Authority was terminated in late 2004, with corruption still rampant and growing, Congress redefined Bowen’s position as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Bowen, went to work. He uncovered some corruption in a report in early 2006 that sounded scathing enough. Bowen found cases of double billing by contractors, of payments for work that was never done, and other scandals. But he never came up with more than $1 billion or so worth of problems–a small fraction of the total amount of money that was vanishing.
Now we know why so little was done.
It turns out that Bowen was never really looking very hard.
There’s a new crater on the Moon. It’s about 14 meters wide, 3 meters deep and precisely one month, eleven days old.
NASA astronomers watched it form: “On May 2, 2006, a meteoroid hit the Moon’s Sea of Clouds (Mare Nubium) with 17 billion joules of kinetic energy—that’s about the same as 4 tons of TNT,” says Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, AL. “The impact created a bright fireball which we video-recorded using a 10-inch telescope.”
Who’s up for ‘Libratn’ them?
And, why the new design? Why doesn’t the US just buy some new designs from South Africa, Israel, India or Pakistan?