8 Jan 2008

No fire without smoke


Joe Otten has a point when he says that the main environmental ill effect of war in Iraq is death, rather like complaining about the smoke when heretics were burnt, he gently chides me.

I guess this kind of report, akin to medieval fraudsters getting paid for fire wood to burn Cathars that didn't exist, is even less important in Joe's eyes. I disagree...tracking both the damage to the environment and fraud involved in war is worth blogging about so here goes:

This was mailed to me (and I guess 10,000 other people) by US Corporate Watch who found it in an American newspaper....Corporate Watch in Oxford are also excellent.

The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported.

The project had to be abandoned because the Iraqi Defense Ministry couldn't obtain rights to the land where the headquarters were to be built, according to a report released this month by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General. Contracting records show the buildings would have housed one brigade and three battalions of the Iraqi military in Ramadi, a hotbed of the Sunni Muslim insurgency and capital of Anbar province.

Still, the Air Force agency overseeing the project paid contractor Ellis Environmental Group $31.9 million of the $34.2 million obligated for the project, the report said.

An Air Force spokesman, Michael Hawkins, said in an e-mail that Air Force auditors are reviewing the contract. Although the inspector general's report says the Air Force was considering suing the contractor, Hawkins said any talk of a lawsuit was premature until the Air Force audit is complete.

Ellis Environmental Group spokesman Steve Brownstein said the work was reassigned to Ellis World Alliance Corp., a related company. Bob Smith, of Ellis World Alliance headquarters in Gainesville, Fla., said contracting rules barred any official comment.

The Ramadi construction contract is one of many problems Pentagon investigators cited in this month's report on the military's oversight of $5.2 billion Congress approved in 2005 to help train and equip the Iraqi military and police.

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