Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I very strongly agree with almost everything Gaianne says -- but would disagree on one point.

It seems to me that the reason why the British are putting what is almost certainly a pack of lies about the role of the polonium in this affair is not that they can 'use it as a tool against Russia.'  While I think it is quite clear that elements in the British elite have been heavily involved in the oligarchs' propaganda campaigns against Putin, what I suspect has been driving the cover-up is fear of the implications of the truth coming out.

Crucial to this story -- and one of the things that makes it interesting -- is the interrelation of the power of money and of ideology.  As with the Middle East, the liking of large elements in Britain and the U.S. for seeing Russian realities in Manichean terms opens up space for particularly unscrupulous and ruthless con men.  Part of their modus operandi is to entangle people in networks of relationship which are profitable, but tend to render those entangled manipulable.

Think for example of the £37.m which, according to the Sunday Times, was made available for the 'first phase' of ISC Global's campaign against Putin.  This is the kind of money which a few years ago former Scotland Yard policemen could only dream of.

The crucial contract which turned Erinys into a significant player in the private security industry was won in association with a Jordanian-American called Abul Huda Farouki -- one of the beneficiaries of Chalabi's practice of having his Petra Bank make loans to family and cronies that were never repaid.

Also, the privatisation of military and intelligence functions means that enormous patronage is now available to the people who control the allocation of these funds.

A report by William Pfaff a few days ago brings out quite clearly how this patronage has been exercised by the U.S. Army in Iraq with zero regard either for political processes of accountability, or indeed good commercial practice.

The U.S. Defense Department’s auditors last week told the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that virtually none of the $8.2 billion disbursed by the U.S. Army to contractors in Iraq was spent according to established federal rules, and little of it now can be accounted for.

Among their examples: a cash payment of $320.8 million made on the basis of an invoice saying “Iraqi salary payment” bearing one signature; $11.1 million paid to an American contractor identified as “IAP” in exchange for a voucher with no indication of what the money was for.

Nearly two billion dollars in frozen Iraqi assets were paid out on pallets of packaged Iraqi currency for no identified reason. An earlier report by the independent federal Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction had already reported that $8.8 billion in Iraq oil money and seized assets could not be accounted for.

All this money was either seized public funds of the Iraqi state and state corporations or American public funds. The Defense Department also made payments overseas of $68.2 million to the United Kingdom, $45.3 million to Poland and $21.3 million to South Korea. The auditors cannot find out what these payments were for.

Please note that we are not talking about the first days after the invasion of Iraq, when money lying about might be expected to disappear in the fog of battle, as they say, or “be liberated.” The auditors’ work covered the entire period from April 2001 to June 2006.

I suspect that one result of the power of the oligarchs' money is that associates of Berezovsky and other oligarchs have been getting up to things in London which MI6 probably cannot afford to see exposed -- whether or not they were actively involved in them.

Obviously the power of money bears upon the key question of the corruption of intelligence, which Migeru raises.  It has been suggested that MI6 raises money from private sources.  The Al-Yamamah case, which the U.S. Justice Department is now pursuing very vigorously, is also very interesting in this context.

Al-Yamamah also brings one back to the international nature of some of these 'flex groups'.  The question of how they are formed, which Jerome raises, is a very interesting one -- about which I need to think and to which I hope to return.

On the vampire nature of the neocons, I agree wholeheartedly with Gaianne.  And one of the things we most need is transnational collaboration to expose these networks to sunlight!

by djhabakkuk (david daught habakkuk at o two daught co daught uk) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 09:04:43 AM EST
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