HANANIA: Iraq war corruption cases go beyond simple “fraud” For Immediate Release, April 8, 2008

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Iraq war corruption cases go beyond simple “fraud”
By Ray Hanania —
This week, a suburban Chicago man who once held a management position at a company that sub-contracted war-related services in Iraq through Halliburton, will finally face trial on charges of corruption. Halliburton and the sub-contractor, Kellogg Brown & Root Inc., (KBR), have seen a string of their managers and employees convicted on corruption charges over the past five years since the war began. But the judge overseeing the case has ruled the defendants will not be permitted to debate the Iraq War during the trial, fueling suspicions the Bush administration is manipulating the cases to protect its political and financial interests.

Nearly all of the cases have been prosecuted at low-profile regional courtrooms, with the latest case, that of former KBR manager Jeff Mazon of Country Club Hills in suburban Chicago, finally coming to trial after a delay of more than three years.

Clearly, cases prosecuted in Washington DC would attract more national coverage. But all of the cases have been prosecuted in suburban Illinois municipalities far from Chicago and by lesser-profile prosecutors.

War-related corruption has become a major public debate since the war, especially in the wake of the lies told by Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials in order to sell the war to the public. Bush needs to show the public that his administration is prosecuting abuses, but he doesn’t want the prosecutions to disrupt the administration’s ties to Halliburton.

Houston-based Halliburton was formerly managed by Cheney, whom many believe will benefit from the billions it received in no-bid war-related contracts when he retires from office.

Now, the judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Joe B. McDade, instructed Mazon’s attorneys during pre-trial hearings this week, “I’m not going to let this case go beyond what it is. It’s a fraud case.”

If the Mazon case and the dozens of others that have been prosecuted were merely “fraud cases,” they would have been handled far differently, showcased on a higher political plain. Prosecutors would have also opened the door to the broader concerns facing Americans: How is it that one company with ties to the Bush administration, Halliburton, cornered the market on nearly all of the Iraq war contracts; and, why isn’t Halliburton or sub-contractors like KBR being scrutinized more closely and openly for what appears to be not individual cases of corruption but systematic corruption involving the parent companies?

In other words, why isn’t Halliburton being held accountable? Because the fraud cases have nothing to do with the corruption of the war in Iraq and the lies told by the Bush-Cheney administration? Or, because Bush and Cheney are seeking to prevent the corruption cases from undermining Halliburton’s credibility further?

The war in Iraq is precisely the focus of all of these fraud cases. The war itself was a fraud. The fraud didn’t start with low level managers negotiating contracts, but rather with the process in which Halliburton was placed in charge of the contracts by the Bush administration.

Ironically, individuals from KBR and Halliburton have been tapped as prosecuting witnesses, yet none of the companies have been held accountable.

McDade approved a government motion prohibiting Mazon’s attorneys from arguing that the mazon is being made a scapegoat by Halliburton and KBR.

Mazon’s attorneys charge their client was framed by KBR, another scapegoat to redirect attention from the company. Did the Bush administration work in concert with KBR and Halliburton to orchestrate the charges against Mazon?

These and other questions won’t be answered because of the judge’s decision and other hurdles being placed on Mazon’s defense.

And, before Mazon’s defense team can call a KBR or Halliburton officer to discuss the case, prosecutors are demanding that Mazon’s attorneys prove that those individuals will be able to prove they have “something relevant” to offer first.

Until Judge McDade allows Mazon and others to fully defend themselves by broadening the trial to not only include the Bush administration’s Iraq War but also to explore possible conspiracies between Halliburton and KBR and the Bush administration, the corruption will not end and justice will not be served.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)



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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com