Archive for September 22nd, 2007

(CBS) Last month, a government report revealed the U.S. military could not account for 190,000 — or 30 percent — of all weapons issued to Iraqi Security Forces between June 2004 and December 2005.

Thursday, Pentagon officials said $88 billion in spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is now under audit by the Department of Defense for fraud.

Now, in his exclusive report CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian has learned some of those missing weapons have ended up in the worst possible hands.

CBS News has learned that the CIA has photographic evidence that Austrian-made Glocks intended for Iraqi security forces and paid for by U.S. taxpayers are now in the hands of Iraqi insurgents — in numbers that the intelligence community believes are in the thousands.

According to an intelligence source, the U.S. contractor in charge of the Glocks somehow lost track of an entire shipment. That mysterious disappeance is now part of a massive military bribery investigation centered around a contracting office run out of a small trailer at a military base in Kuwait. Eighteen federal investigators are digging into the actions of dozens of high-ranking U.S officers and military contractors.

Thursday, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, lawmakers took aim at what the chairman called “a culture of corruption” surrounding billions in Iraq war contracts, but stopped short of publicly saying where some of the weapons wound up.

“The number of folks who have enormous responsibilty to this country are involved has, I think, made this a real tragedy for our country,” says Duncan Hunter, the committee’s ranking member.

After the hearing, Keteyian confronted Army Lt. General Ross Thompson, who admitted the Inspector General at the Defense of Department is looking at the CIA’s evidence.

“We are going to report tonight that thousands of Glock pistols intended for Iraq security forces instead ended up in the hands of insurgents,” says Keteyian. “What is your reaction to that?”

“I don’t know that for a fact,” Thompson says. “It is something that is being investigated by the DOD IG right now and that’s something that is not within my responsibility or my area of expertise to comment on, but it is being actively investigated.”

As Congress prepares to send another $2 billion to the Iraq security forces, Dept. of Defense officials testified they are working to find better ways to maintain appropriate accountability and control over military material.

It’s small comfort to American soldiers in Iraq who may now be staring down the barrel of guns paid for by the U.S. government.

From CBSNews.com

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CHENGDU, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) — Huang Jinjiang, a former bank official in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, has been given death sentence for accepting bribes, local court sources said on Saturday.

The Ziyang City’s People’s Court made the first-instance trial on Sept. 5. Huang was also deprived political rights all his life with the confiscation of all his personal assets.

According to the court verdict, from 1993 to 1997, the defendant Huang took advantage of his posts as president of China Agricultural Bank’s subsidiary bank of Dazhou city to seek loans for a local firm after accepting bribes.

Huang accepted seven million yuan (about 930,000 U.S. dollars). Meanwhile, Huang’s three colleagues, who will be handled in a separate case, accepted and extorted bribes worth of 3.12 million yuan (about 416,500 dollars).

By now, most part of the illicit money has not been recovered.

Huang’s crime also resulted in losses of 700 million yuan in bank loans, which cannot be recovered. (about 93.3 million dollars).

From Sina.com

When you read this post, please keep in mind that the cost of the Iraq war, to date, is more than $450 billion and rising – with no end in site. Then hear President Bush – with the smirk ever-present on his face and in his voice – chastise “the Democrats” for putting forth this bi-partisan bill TO PROVIDE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE TO KIDS FROM LOW-INCOME FAMILIES, calling it “too costly.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush again called Democrats “irresponsible” on Saturday for pushing an expansion he opposes to a children’s health insurance program.

“Democrats in Congress have decided to pass a bill they know will be vetoed,” Bush said of the measure that draws significant bipartisan support, repeating in his weekly radio address an accusation he made earlier in the week. “Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point.”

In the Democrats’ response, also broadcast Saturday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell turned the tables on the president, saying that if Bush doesn’t sign the bill, 15 states will have no funding left for the program by the end of the month.

At issue is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a state-federal program that subsidizes health coverage for low-income people, mostly children, in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private coverage. It expires September 30.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a proposal Friday that would add $35 billion over five years to the program, adding 4 million people to the 6.6 million already participating. It would be financed by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.

The idea is overwhelmingly supported by Congress’ majority Democrats, who scheduled it for a vote Tuesday in the House. It has substantial Republican support as well.

But Bush has promised a veto, saying the measure is too costly, unacceptably raises taxes, extends government-covered insurance to children in families who can afford private coverage, and seems like a move toward completely federalized health care.

He has asked Congress to pass a simple extension of the current program while debate continues, saying it’s children who will suffer if they do not.

“Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage — not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage,” Bush said. Video Listen to the whole radio address »

The bill’s backers have vigorously rejected Bush’s claim it would steer public money to families that can readily afford health insurance, saying their goal is to cover more of the millions of uninsured children. The bill would provide financial incentives for states to cover their lowest-income children first, they said.

Many governors want the flexibility to expand eligibility for the program. So the proposal would overturn recent guidelines from the administration making it difficult for states to steer CHIP funds to families with incomes exceeding 250 percent of the official poverty level.

Rendell said thousands of children will lose health care coverage if Bush doesn’t sign the bill.

“The administration has tried to turn this into a partisan issue and has threatened to veto. The health of our children is far too important for partisan politics as usual,” he said. “If the administration is serious about solving our health care crisis, it should be expanding, not cutting back, this program which has made private health insurance affordable for millions of children.”

From CNN.com

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader’s death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.

“It’s out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive,” Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said as Bush’s comments received worldwide coverage.

In a speech defending his administration’s Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.

“I heard somebody say, Where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,” Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.

Jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule, Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for preaching racial harmony and guiding the nation peacefully into the post-apartheid era.

References to his death — Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail — are seen as insensitive in South Africa.

From Yahoo News

This is the latest in a long line of “embarrassing” remarks made by the “leader of the free world.” It was funny when Chevy Chase did his parodies of Gerald Ford on Saturday Night Live – parodies of this President are no longer funny.