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Special Reports Last Updated: Aug 18th, 2009 - 00:52:35

After six years of U.S. occupation, infrastructure not improved in Iraq
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 18, 2009, 00:22

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(WMR) -- WMR has learned from an NBC News source that six years after the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, there have been no improvements to critical infrastructures in the country, including electricity and water.

With NBC News under the firm corporate control of its defense contractor parent, General Electric, do not expect to see Brian Williams cover this story any time soon.

According to the source, with summer temperatures as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, Iraqis must contend with the sweltering heat without air conditioning or fans. Some enterprising Iraqis have fashioned crude �air conditioning� fans that blow air off of water surfaces and operate off of small diesel generators. However, most Iraqis have no easy way to avoid the extreme heat and they have abandoned hotter upper floors and congregate on relatively cooler ground floors.

Iraqi government officials merely pay lip service to restoration of electricity service. Some Iraqi ministers, taking cues from their American spin doctors, have actually blamed power failures on terrorist bombings. Demonstrations against the lack of electricity have recently been held in Basra and Al-Nasiriyah.

One of the reasons that there has not been an improvement in the public utility sector in Iraq is fraud, according to the source. Several American contractors, as well as uniformed U.S. service personnel, have �become millionaires� in skimming money intended for public works projects to line their own pockets. They have been assisted by corrupt Iraqi officials who have also reaped the benefits of rampant corruption. The Electricity Ministry is viewed by the Iraqi people as the center of fraud and corruption that has resulted in numerous blackouts in the country.

The Iraqi Water Resources Ministry is also rife with corruption and the improvement of critical clean water supplies in Iraq has not improved. The water problems in Iraq began when Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul �Jerry� Bremer ordered the Saddam Hussein-era Ministry of Irrigation abolished and replaced by five different commissions and 11 parastatal companies that became rife with Bremer-tolerated fraud and corruption.

Corrupt Electricity Ministry officials, some dual U.S.-Iraqis, have also enjoyed a close relationship with U.S. Embassy personnel. One of the largest contractors to the Iraqi Electricity Ministry was Southeast Texas Industrial Services (STIS) of Buna, Texas. STIS was to build a 500-megawatt power plant along with a refinery for power plant fuel. 

STIS, which was politically linked to George W. Bush, had never held a contract outside the United States. On May 14, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that STIS was suspected by Iraqi officials of bribing for the contract a corrupt dual U.S.-Iraqi Electricity minister who was linked closely to the U.S. Embassy and was ultimately tried on corruption charges. STIS also saw contract opportunities open up in Jordan. STIS eventually ended up abandoning the project amid charges that it failed to meet its obligations. The contract was inherited by Washington Group International of Boise, Idaho, which just so happens to be owned by URS Corporation, a company in which Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has a financial stake.

One of the main U.S. government agencies that interfaces with the Iraqi Electricity Ministry is the State Department�s Iraq Transitional Assistance Office. The other U.S. agency involved with Iraqi infrastructure redevelopment is the amply-corrupt U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is more concerned with providing �official cover� for U.S. intelligence operations than in improving infrastructures.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright � 2009

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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