CNN on Iraq contracting investigations
"It Was a Wal-Mart For Guns"
and our original Newsweek story on Iraq's Arms Bazaar
One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.
For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.
There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.
He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers — all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.
The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.
“It was a Wal-Mart for guns,” he says. “It was all illegal and everyone knew it.”... (full article)
It was 111 degrees Fahrenheit for Americans in Baghdad today (43 Celsius for the Iraqis), and it's supposed to be hotter - 117 F or 47C - for the rest of the week. That's in the shade, of course, for those who can find it. Such infernal temperatures are pretty much the same every year. Nothing is quite as predictable in Iraq as the summer heat.
But another simple fact is just as evident: the death toll among fighters tends to decline in the dog days, because nobody wants to have to do battle in that stifling air, and those who have to go into combat tend to move more slowly and cautiously.
On the other hand, to the extent public records are available on non-governmental Web sites like iraqbodycount.org and icasualties.org (the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, with which Newsweek did a major presentation on the Internet in December of last year), it seems that the civilian death toll, mainly from terrorist attacks, actually may remain high or rise in the heat of summer. Security forces are thinner on the ground. Roadside bombs can be put out at night and suicide drivers don't usually have to brave the hellish heat for very long before they punch their ticket to Paradise....