Where is the Money? Out of Iraq millions of dollars missing!

 

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As the date for the US troop withdrawal from Iraq nears, questions have been raised over those who do not leave the war zone empty-handed, as billions of dollars have reportedly been wasted or stolen during the military intervention.

­Some arrests have been made of individual soldiers making cash on the side, but the big players behind the losses remain at large.

The number of people indicted and convicted by the US for bribery, fraud and theft in Iraq and Afghanistan has never been so high.

Among those is a marine in Iraq who sent home $43,000 in stolen cash by hiding it in a footlocker among American flags.  Another soldier shipped home thousands of dollars concealed in a toy stuffed animal.

Michael O’Brien, the author of America’s Failure in Iraq says “They go after people who stole $43,000. That’s great; they should go after that, but what about on a larger scale?”

In 2006, Michael O’Brien was tasked with helping build the Iraqi military. He says those who have pocketed millions enjoy complete impunity.

“They rebuilt an Iraqi army base and I’m telling you the condition of that base – this is just one example – was so deplorable, it was so pathetic, and when I asked the American construction project manager how much money was into this, I really thought he was going to say 3 or 5 million – it was $160 million,” Michael O’Brien recalls.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting estimated that between $31 billion and $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The figures seem even more staggering, considering the overall amount the US has committed to rebuilding Iraq: roughly $62 billion.

Peter Van Buren was a head of an Iraq Reconstruction team, working for the US State Department.

US State Department Foreign Service Officer told RT that “The squandering of resources occurred on very small levels: a couple of thousand dollars here and there and zoomed all the way up into hundreds of millions of dollars that were spent on hospitals that never opened or prisons that never took any prisoners in.”

The Commission on Wartime Contracting is out of business now, after Congress cut its funding.

The details of their probe is sealed until 2031.

“They don’t want people in high places to come under scrutiny,” Michael O’Brien believes. “The US Congress wants to put the fraud behind the debacle of our Iraqi invasion.”

The scope of the fraud and waste is enormous. The US justice system goes after individuals who have stolen a few thousand dollars here and there, but not after the big players, the big contractors, that have really made a killing on the war.

Related articles

US in Iraq: eight years of fraud and money laundering? (rt.com)

 

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Haiti; haven for Human Trafficking and illegal adoptions!

 

Poverty, endemic corruption, and lawlessness are the norm in what is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The void of authority has made Haiti a key transit point for drugs going to the United States, and, to a lesser extent, Europe, as well as a haven for myriad other criminal activities including human smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal adoptions.

Things have gotten worse since the earthquake in January 2010, which left entire cities in rubble, the country’s little infrastructure in tatters, and over 230,000 dead.

What was already a difficult place to live has also become a nearly impossible place to police. To cite one example, nearly 6,000 prisoners escaped from a maximum security prison following the quake, only eight per cent of whom have been recaptured

The UN mission adds that it’s worried about security forces’ connections to organized crime and noted that the murder rate “did not stop going up” in 2009 to 2010, according to EFE’s account, without specifying by how much or where homicides were increasing.

Amidst the chaos are thousands of children. The United States Department of State estimates that close to half a million children were displaced by the quake, adding to a culture of people inured to the death and destruction around them.

The State Department qualifies Haiti as a “special case” in matters of human trafficking, the highest alarm bell it can sound. And in its 2010 report on human trafficking, it says most of those trafficked are “restaveks,” a term used for domestic child servants who form part of an extended family.

“Restaveks are treated differently from other non-biological children living in households,” the State Department says. “In addition to involuntary servitude, restaveks are particularly vulnerable to beatings, sexual assaults and other abuses by family members in the homes in which they are residing.”

Haiti has created a special Brigade for the Protection of Minors, but this has done little to curb trafficking since the brigade does not pursue forced labour or forced prostitution cases because there is no existing law against these activities, the State Department adds. It noted an increase in the number of restaveks found in shelters since the quake.

The UN’s report may indicate that other children are also being bought and sold in large numbers on the black market, as desperate, entrepreneurial parents seek to lower their burden. Much of this market, it appears, is in the Dominican Republic, which shares the Hispaniola Island with Haiti.

Haitians are trafficked to work on Dominican sugar plantations, in brothels and other forced servitude, the State Department says.

Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking

There are serious concerns about the cartels‘ movement into illegal immigrant smuggling. “It is really a four-part trade, and it has caused crime throughout the United States.”

Arizona has become the gateway not only for drugs, but also illegal immigrants. Fights over the valuable commodity have triggered a spate of shootings, kidnappings and killings. In Arizona, the cartels grossed an estimated $2 billion last year on smuggling humans. Senior officials from various federal law enforcement agencies confirmed that they were extremely concerned about the cartels’ human smuggling network.

In recent years, the U.S. government has taken significant steps to go after illegal immigrant smugglers on a global scale, setting up task forces, launching public awareness campaigns and creating a Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center to fuse intelligence from various agencies. U.S. efforts to stop the cartels have been stymied by a shortage of funds and the failure of federal law enforcement agencies to collaborate effectively with one another, their local and state counterparts and the Mexican government, officials say.

U.S. authorities have long focused their efforts on the cartels’ trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamines, which has left a trail of violence and corruption. Many of those officials now say that the toll from smuggling illegal immigrants is often far worse.

The cartels often further exploit the illegal immigrants by forcing them into economic bondage or prostitution, U.S. officials say. In recent years, illegal immigrants have been forced to pay even more exorbitant fees for being smuggled into the U.S. by the cartel’s well-coordinated networks of transportation, communications, logistics and financial operatives, according to officials. Many more illegal immigrants are raped, killed or physically and emotionally scarred along the way, authorities say. Organized smuggling groups are stealing entire safe houses from rivals and trucks full of “chickens” — their term for their human cargo — to resell them or exploit them further, according to these officials and documents.

 Greed and opportunity had prompted the cartels to move into illegal immigrant smuggling. Drugs are only sold once.  But people, can be sold over and over. And they use these people over and over until they are too broken to be used anymore.” The cartels began moving into human smuggling in the late 1990s, initially by taxing the coyotes as they led bands of a few dozen people across cartel-controlled turf near the border.

After U.S. officials stepped up border enforcement after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the price of passage increased and the cartels got more directly involved, using the routes they have long used for smuggling drugs north and cash and weapons south, authorities said. Sometimes they loaded up their human cargo with backpacks full of marijuana. In many cases, they smuggled illegal immigrants between the two marijuana-growing seasons.

That is the case even as the Obama administration and Congress increasingly focus their attention on Mexico, fearing that its government is losing ground in a battle against the cartels that has resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 people since the beginning of 2008. 

IranHuman Trafficking

The Face of Iran!

Iran is a source, transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Women from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Eastern Europe, China, Bangladesh, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are brought in to work as prostitutes. Women and girls are trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, the Persian Gulf, and Europe for sexual exploitation, while boys from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are trafficked through Iran en route to Persian Gulf states where they are forced to work as camel jockeys, beggars, or laborers. Internal trafficking is also present, as both women and children are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Iran is a transit, source and destination country for human trafficking. Women suffer the most from human trafficking in Iran; women are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Internally, women are trafficked for the purposes of settling debts (through forced marriages) and forced prostitution. Women from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Eastern Europe, China, Bangladesh, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are brought in to work as prostitutes. Iranian women and girls are also trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom for commercial sexual exploitation.

Children are also victims of human trafficking in Iran. Iranian children are trafficked internally and Afghani children are trafficked into Iran for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude as beggars or laborers.

Iran grows almost none of its own opium, according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, but it has one of the world’s highest rates of opiate addiction and it is getting worse. The organization’s 2007 World Drug Report classified Iran as having one of the world’s largest increases in opiate addiction, and the government estimates there are 1.2 million drug abusers, which is 2.8 percent of people ages 15 to 64.

Many attribute the large number of drug abusers to an unusually young population and a large degree of unemployment, estimated at more than 11 percent by the International Monetary Fund. Trafficking has been a particular problem for the government in Tehran. About 53 percent of the opium that left Afghanistan in 2008 traveled through Iran. In fact, about 68 percent of the opium seized in the world in 2007 was taken in Iran, according to the United Nations, just under the average for the previous 20 years.

While many dispute the reliability of Iran’s seizure statistics, most agree that a great deal of these drugs come from Afghanistan through Pakistan, and into southeastern Iran, a region with a long history of volatility. Many of the traffickers travel in armed convoys, and the routes are largely controlled by local warlords, which has proved deadly for Iranian security forces, according to a report by the UNODC. Overall, between 1979 and 2010 about 4,600 Iranian police officers were killed in Iran’s war on drugs. “They try to make a living however they can, and it often ends up in criminal activities,” he said.

However hard Tehran fights drugs smuggled in from Afghanistan, it is still facing a growing population of drug abusers at home. “It is not just the opiates — opium, heroin and morphine — that originate in Afghanistan that are problems in Iran. Synthetic drugs, things like methamphetamines, ecstasy, LSD and amphetamines, those things too are becoming more and more commonplace in Iran.” When these synthetics first entered the country around 2003, the government simply denied the problem. But as it got worse, Tehran began to blame the problem on imports from Europe. And today……………………………

Chaos!!! is building for the Iranian President!

In response to the arrest of several of his associates, Iranian President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that arresting government ministers would cross a red
line. The arrests came against the backdrop of the rift between Ahmadinejad and  Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad added that he would not respond to the moves against him due to his desire to preserve Iran’s unity

Nigeria’s Fight against Human Trafficking!

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Nigeria’s has retained its high ranking, Tier-1, status on the global rating in her efforts to combat human Trafficking In Persons (TIP) according to the 2011 United States Department of State TIP Report.

Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders − women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and forced commercial sexual exploitation, and boys for forced labor in street vending, domestic servitude, mining, and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, primarily Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and The Gambia, for the same purposes. Children from West African states like Benin, Togo, and Ghana – where Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rules allow for easy entry – are also forced to work in Nigeria, and some are subjected to hazardous jobs in Nigeria’s granite mines. Nigerian women and girls are taken to Europe, especially to Italy and Russia, and to the Middle East and North Africa, for forced prostitution. Traffickers sometimes move their victims to Europe by caravan, forcing them to cross the desert on foot, and subjecting them to forced prostitution to repay heavy debts for travel expenses. During the reporting period, Nigerian girls were repatriated from Libya and Morocco, where they were reportedly held captive in the commercial sex trade.

The Government of Nigeria fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. It demonstrated sustained progress to combat human trafficking during the reporting period. In 2009, the government convicted 25 trafficking offenders and provided care for 1,109 victims, increases over the previous reporting period. It also continued to undertake strong efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking. In addition, its National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) ceased the practice of interrogating trafficking suspects at the same Lagos facility housing its shelter for trafficking victims. To better ensure victims’ rights are respected, NAPTIP formed a committee in mid-2009 to review victim care policies, aiming to strike a balance between ensuring victims’ safety in shelters and promoting their freedom of movement. The Nigerian government in 2009 pledged over $7 million in annual funds for NAPTIP’s operation and activities; all government programs received partial payment pending budget approval by legislative and executive branches. Due to a four-month delay in approval of the 2010 national budget, funds were distributed to all federal agencies in April 2010.

Prevention

The Government of Nigeria sustained strong efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking over the last year. NAPTIP’s Public Enlightenment Unit worked throughout the reporting period on national and local programming to raise awareness. For example, in rural Benue, Kogi, and Edo States, NAPTIP introduced grassroots programs and held its first annual race against human trafficking in Edo State with 5,000 runners. On the national level, it convened the 2009 Model UN Conference for secondary students with a theme of combating human trafficking. Furthermore, a nine-state tour was launched to establish state working groups against human trafficking. The objective of these and several related programs was to sensitize vulnerable people, sharpen public awareness of trends and tricks traffickers used to lure victims, warn parents, and share ideas among stakeholders. Audiences ranged from 50 to 5,000 persons. NAPTIP worked with Immigration Services to monitor emigration and immigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. The long-established Stakeholder Forum continued quarterly meetings in Abuja to foster collaboration among agencies. In August 2009, NAPTIP held a stakeholders’ workshop in Kaduna to set program priorities and cost estimates for implementing the National Plan of Action, which was established in 2008. Nigerian troops undergo mandatory human rights and human trafficking training in preparation for peacekeeping duties abroad. The government did not take major action to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, though officials moved to shut down two brothels in Lagos during the first quarter of 2010. At these brothels, authorities rescued 12 females, including six underage victims of trafficking. One property owner was convicted, sentenced to two years in prison, and required to forfeit his hotel; his case remained under appeal at the end of the reporting period. The second brothel owner’s trial was ongoing and he remained free on bail.

The fight continues, even though the progress is slow, and the women and children are still the victims.