Deadliest bombings in Iraq since Jan. 1, when a new U.S.-Iraqi security pact took effect:

_ June 24 — Bomb hidden under vegetables on motorized pushcart explodes in Baghdad’s Sadr city, killing at least 69.

_ June 20 — Truck bomb strikes Shiite mosque near northern city of Kirkuk, killing 82.

_ June 10 — Car bomb explodes in market near Shiite city of Nasiriyah, killing 30.

_ May 21 — Bomb in mainly Sunni area of Baghdad kills 15 people, including three Americans.

_ May 20 — Parked car bomb tears through restaurants in northwest Baghdad, killing 41.

_ May 6 — Parked car bomb explodes at a produce market in southern Baghdad, killing 15.

_ April 29 — Twin car bombing in Baghdad’s Shiite district of Sadr City kills 51.

_ April 24 — Back-to-back female suicide bombings kill 71 outside Shiite shrine in Baghdad.

_ April 23 — Suicide bomber hits Iraqis collecting humanitarian aid in Baghdad, killing 31.

_ April 23 — Suicide bombing in Muqdadiyah kills 53 people, including 44 Iranian pilgrims.

_ April 6 — Series of bombings in Baghdad kill 37 people.

_ March 26 — Car bomb tears through market in Shiite area in east Baghdad, killing 20.

_ March 23 — Suicide bomber strikes Kurdish funeral in Jalula, killing 27.

_ March 10 — Suicide bomber targets tribal leaders at market in Abu Ghraib, killing 33.

_ March 8 — Suicide bomber strikes police academy in Baghdad, killing at least 30.

_ March 5 — Car bomb tears through livestock market in Hillah, killing 13.

_ Feb. 13 — Female suicide bomber targets Shiite pilgrims in Musayyib, killing 40.

_ Feb. 11 — Twin car bombs explode at a bus terminal and market area in Baghdad, killing 16.

_ Jan. 4 — Female suicide bomber strikes Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad, killing 38.

_ Jan. 2 — Suicide bomber hits tribal leader’s home in Youssifiyah, killing 23.

(This version CORRECTS toll in June 20 bombing).)

Shopping for food becomes perilous in Iraq

Filed Under Latest News & Scandals | Comments Off on Shopping for food becomes perilous in Iraq

With one week remaining until US troops “withdraw” from cities and move back into 340 military premises around the country, the violence in Iraq is continuing to escalate.   Has anyone noticed that the militants keep targeting fruit and vegetable markets?  That most ordinary activity — a woman going to buy ingredients to cook meals for her family — has become a dangerous, frightening activity.

At least 72 people were killed today, and 127 injured,  in a bombing in the Shia heartland of Sadr City, in Baghdad. One bomb was believed to have been hidden under a pile of vegetables on the back of a  rickshaw in a popular marketplace. The blast happened at sunset in a crowded slum neighbourhood of Sadr City, which like many Shia, or mixed areas of the country, has been increasingly targeted in the lead-up to the American withdrawal.

Iraqi security officials had foreshadowed a spike in violence as the American pull-out draws near. However, the daily death tolls have already come close to the worst case scenarios spelled out by some commanders.

In the past seven days, at least 242 Iraqis have been killed, nearly all by bombings. June is on track to be the deadliest month for civilians in close to one year.  Read more:

15% of all Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes — and almost none have returned, so far.

Filed Under Academic Papers & Journals, Latest News & Scandals, Latest posts | Comments Off on 15% of all Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes — and almost none have returned, so far.

The violence in Iraq continues daily.  This month, the country suffered its single deadliest attack of the year, a suicide truck bombing in Taza, Iraq, that killed 80 people, wounded more than 200, and destroyed at least 50 buildings. As usual, these were innocent civilians going to market, attending mosque and attempting to live normal lives.

This partially explains the stunning statistic that out of 2.7 million Iraqis who have been “internally displaced” during the war — kicked out of their homes by ethnic violence and intimidation, or forced to leave due to destruction of their plumbing, electricity and roads — a tiny fraction, fewer than 1%, have returned home, according to the respected Brookings Iraq Index ( ).   IN addition,  another two million Iraqis (mostly middle class professionals who had enough money to get out) fled the country entirely. Fewer than 70,000 of these refugees have returned home.  The vast majority are seeking permanent asylum in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran and other countries.

In total, this means that over 15% of the Iraqi population has been forced to flee their homes.  And despite considerable financial incentives from the Iraqi government for them to return, the overwhelming majority have decided that they have a better chance of a decent life if they stay where they are.


Filed Under Latest News & Scandals, Latest posts | Comments Off on WARTIME CONTRACTING COMMISSION FINDS WASTE, ABUSE

Panel finds lax oversight of wartime contracting

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Defense Department has failed to provide adequate oversight over tens of billions of dollars in contracts to support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, says a new report by an independent commission investigating waste and fraud in wartime spending.

U.S. reliance on private sector employees has grown to “unprecedented proportions,” yet the government has no central database of who all these contractors are, what they do or how much they’re paid, the bipartisan commission found.

In its first report to Congress, the Wartime Contracting Commission presents a bleak assessment of how taxpayer dollars have been spent since 2001. The 111-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, documents poor management, weak oversight, and a failure to learn from past mistakes as recurring themes in wartime contracting.

The commission’s report is scheduled to be made public Wednesday at a hearing held by the House Oversight and Government Reform’s national security subcommittee.

One example of wasted money cited by the commission involves construction of a $30 million dining facility at a U.S. base in Iraq scheduled to be completed Dec. 25. The decision to build it was based on bad planning and botched paperwork. Yet the project is too far along to stop, making the mess hall a future monument to the waste and inefficiency plaguing the war effort.

The commission, established by Congress last year, says more than 240,000 private sector employees are supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands more work for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

In Iraq, the panel worries that as U.S. troops depart in larger numbers, too few government eyes will be on the contractors left to oversee the closing of hundreds of bases and disposal of mountains of federal property.

At Rustamiyah, a seven-acre forward operating base turned over to the Iraqis in March, the military population plunged from 1,490 to 62 in just three months. During the same period, the contractor population dropped from 928 to 338, leaving more than five contractors for every service member.

In Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama has ordered a large increase of U.S. troops, existing bases will have to expand and new ones will be built — without proper oversight unless the Pentagon rapidly changes course.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to reduce the military’s reliance on contractors and hire more government employees and acquisition staff. These steps will begin a badly needed overhaul of the military’s approach to contract management, the commission says.

One commander in Afghanistan told the commission he had no idea how many contractors were on and off his base on a daily basis. Another officer said he had property all over his installation but didn’t know who owned it or what kind of shape it was in.

There are questionable construction projects in Afghanistan, too. The commission visited the New Kabul Compound, a building intended to serve as headquarters for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But members saw cracks in the structure, broken and leaking pipes, sinking sidewalks and other defects.

“The Army should not have accepted a building in such condition,” the report says.

The commission cites concerns with a massive support contract known as “LOGCAP” that provides troops with essential services, including housing, meals, mail delivery and laundry.

Despite the huge size and importance of the contract, the main program office managing the work for both Afghanistan and Iraq has only 13 government employees. For administrative help, it relies on a contractor.

KBR Inc., the primary LOGCAP contractor in Iraq, has been paid nearly $32 billion since 2001. The commission says billions of dollars of that amount ended up wasted due to poorly defined work orders, inadequate oversight and contractor inefficiencies.

In one example, defense auditors challenged KBR after it billed the government for $100 million in costs for private security even though the contract prohibited the use of for-hire guards.

KBR has defended its performance and criticized the commission for making “biased” statements against the company.

“As we look back on what we’ve done, we’re real proud of being able to go into a war theater like that as a private contractor and support 200,000 troops,” William P. Utt, chairman of the Houston-based KBR, said in May in an interview with AP reporters and editors.

KBR is also linked to the dining hall construction snafu, although the commission faults the military’s planning and not the contractor. With American forces scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, the U.S. will use the new facility for two years at most.

In July 2008, the Army said a new dining facility was badly needed at the Camp Delta forward operating base because the existing one was too small, had a saggy ceiling, poor lighting and an unsanitary wooden floor.

KBR was awarded a contract in September. Work began in late October as American and Iraqi officials negotiated the agreement setting the dates for the U.S. troop withdrawal.

But during an April visit to Camp Delta, the commission learned that the existing mess hall had just been renovated. The $3.36 million job was done by KBR and completed in June 2008. Commission staff toured the renovated hall “without seeing or hearing of any problems or shortfalls,” the report says.

The decision to push ahead with the new hall was based on paperwork that was never updated and a failure to review the need for the project after the security agreement was signed. Most of the materials have been ordered and construction is well under way. That means canceling the project would save little money because KBR would have a legitimate claim for payment based on the investment it has already made.

Congress to hold hearings on whether AIG denied medical care to contractors in Iraq

Filed Under Latest News & Scandals, Medical Topics | Comments Off on Congress to hold hearings on whether AIG denied medical care to contractors in Iraq

The US taxpayer reimburses private insurance companies to provide medical coverage to  contractors serving in a war zone (because it is deemed too risky for a private company to voluntarily provide such coverage).  Despite this,  Congress is investigating allegations that insurance giant AIG, which was supposed to offer medical coverage to the US contractors working for KBR, failed to provide this coverage.  This finding was reported in the Three Trillion Dollar War.  Read more:

Next Page →