Feature Week of May 23, 2004
TWO TALES OF THIEVERY AT THE PENTAGON
Justice in Black And White
The path to war with Iraq was a propaganda program underwritten by U.S. government funds. The latest news stories show how Americans paid Ahmad Chalabi to gull them into a war that is costing American citizens a billion dollars a week and precious human cost in lives and limbs.
Over the period of the last 12 years, Chalabi and a cast of other dubious characters swayed Washington’s political, intelligence and journalistic sets with lies they were paid millions to present. The bogus stories spewed by Iraqi exiles and defectors ricocheted through an echo chamber of establishment government and media, making it sound as if their stories of Iraq’s weapon of destruction were true.
The Iraqi National Congress (INC) was created in 1992 for the purpose of fomenting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The INC has been funded by groups inside the Pentagon since 1992. It received over $27 million just in the last four years. In May 1991, following the end of Operation Desert Storm, then-President George H.W. Bush signed a presidential finding directing the CIA to create the conditions for Hussein's removal. The hope was that members of the Iraqi military would turn on Hussein and stage a military coup. The CIA hired the Rendon Group, a secretive public relations firm that has assisted U.S. military interventions in nations including Argentina, Colombia, Haiti, Panama and Zimbabwe, to run a covert anti-Saddam propaganda campaign.
Records show that the Rendon Group spent more than $23 million in the first year of its contract with the CIA and came up with the name for the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an opposition coalition of 19 Iraqi and Kurdish organizations whose main tasks were to “gather information, distribute propaganda and recruit dissidents”. Rendon's postwar work involved multiple media projects. They produced videos and radio skits ridiculing Hussein, a traveling photo exhibit of Saddam’s Iraqi atrocities, and radio scripts calling on Iraqi army officers to defect.
Bundles of Pentagon money were used to finance INC defectors that were the sources of many news stories that helped bring about the military invasion of Iraqi. There were no restrictions on the use of U.S. government funds to make such defectors and their distortions available to the world’s news media. Now, many in U.S. government and politics admit Chalabi and Company made over $50 million providing questionable information that led to a war 70 prcent of Black Americans say was “unwarranted” and “unnecessary”.
No matter the negative stories surrounding them, nowadays Chalabi and Co. are safe and living large. Meanwhile, two African Americans who took the Pengaton for about 1/50 of the amounts that went to Chalabi and Co. are serving the second of 24 years in prison for their offenses. Robert L. Neal Jr. headed of the Defense Department's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, an agency that was designed to help minority-owned businesses secure defense contracts. Francis D. Jones, Jr. was his executive assistant. In July 2003, when Chalabi was being ensconced in a palatial palace in Baghdad, Neal and Jones were found guilty of defrauding the government by demanding that contractors make payments to companies linked to them in exchange for landing or maintaining lucrative federal jobs. Prosecutors said the scheme involved accepting gifts, including expensive gold watches and the services of prostitutes that a defense contractor provided Neal and Jones while they were at a small business conference in the Virgin Islands.
While Chalabi and Co. were bilking the Pentagon for millions from 1996 to 2001, Neal was heading the Defense Department's $28 million-a-year Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization; a post to which he had been appointed by President Bill Clinton. Though it was never proved that Neal or Jones actually facilitated the awarding of a contract, each was ordered to forfeit $2 million in Rolex watches, homes, automobiles and other items the government labeled as “ill-gotten gains”.
Was there fairness in the two cases of Pentagon thievery? The millions that went to Chalabi and Co. were sanctioned by an “establishment” that sought any means necessary to discredit a dictator 10,000 miles away from U.S. shores. Neal and Jones headed an agency and concept that have always been held in the “suspect” category by the Washington establishment. Even members of Washington's Establishment considered the 24-year sentence unusually long for a Pentagon corruption case. "I've been doing this since 1982, and this is one of the stiffest sentences I've seen in my professional career," said Joseph A. McMillan, special agent in charge of the mid-Atlantic field office of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, which investigated the case along with the FBI.
© 2000-2004 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com