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The 'Brownie' of Iraq military procurement

“Before, I sold water, flowers, shoes, cars — but not weapons. We didn’t know anything about weapons.”

— Ziad Cattan, former used-car dealer, handpicked by our government to buy military equipment for iraqi soldiers, and who — big surprise — is unqualified and corrupt.

Before Rearming Iraq, He Sold Shoes and Flowers. Is there no end to this? We’ve got another “Brownie’ over in Iraq, wholly unqualified for the job — and who was given $1.3 billion to burn, courtesy of BushCo. And, as we are all used to by now, no oversight.

Ziad Cattan was a Polish Iraqi used-car dealer with no weapons-dealing experience until U.S. authorities turned him into one of the most powerful men in Iraq last year — the chief of procurement for the Defense Ministry, responsible for equipping the fledgling Iraqi army.

As U.S. advisors looked on, Cattan embarked on a massive spending spree, paying hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds for secret, no-bid contracts, according to interviews with more than a dozen senior American, coalition and Iraqi officials, and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. The money flowed, often in bricks of cash, through the hands of middlemen who were friends of Cattan and took a percentage of the proceeds.

Although much of the material purchased has proved useful, U.S. advisors said, the contracts also paid for equipment that was shoddy, overpriced or never delivered. The questionable purchases — including aging Russian helicopters and underpowered Polish transport vehicles — have slowed the development of the Iraqi army and hindered its ability to replace American troops, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

Cattan, now facing corruption charges leveled by the Iraqi Justice Ministry, insists that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and the victim of a smear campaign. In interviews in Poland, where he now lives, Cattan said he had worked under pressure from U.S. and Iraqi officials to arm the Iraqi forces as quickly as possible.

The L.A Times piece by Solomon Moore and T. Christian Miller is an incredible read, barring the nausea it induces from hearing about more about this commode of corruption.

Hat tip, Raw Story.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding