Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Arms Bazaar: The New York Times takes up the story, and finds an interesting lead

Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 — Several federal agencies are investigating a widening network of criminal cases involving the purchase and delivery of billions of dollars of weapons, supplies and other matériel to Iraqi and American forces, according to American officials. The officials said it amounted to the largest ring of fraud and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here.
The inquiry has already led to several indictments of Americans, with more expected, the officials said. One of the investigations involves a senior American officer who worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus in setting up the logistics operation to supply the Iraqi forces when General Petraeus was in charge of training and equipping those forces in 2004 and 2005, American officials said Monday.
There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing by General Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, who through a spokesman declined comment on any legal proceedings.
...
Part of the criminal investigation is focused on Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, who reported directly to General Petraeus and worked closely with him in setting up the logistics operation for what were then the fledgling Iraqi security forces.
That operation moved everything from AK-47s, armored vehicles and plastic explosives to boots and Army uniforms, according to officials who were involved in it. Her former colleagues recall Colonel Selph as a courageous officer who was willing to take substantial personal risks to carry out her mission and was unfailingly loyal to General Petraeus and his directives to move quickly in setting up the logistics operation.
“She was kind of like the Pony Express of the Iraqi security forces,” said Victoria Wayne, who was then deputy director of logistics for the overall Iraqi reconstruction program.
Still, Colonel Selph also ran into serious problems with a company she oversaw that failed to live up to a contract it had signed to carry out part of that logistics mission.
It is not clear exactly what Colonel Selph is being investigated for. Colonel Selph, reached by telephone twice on Monday, said she would speak to reporters later but did not answer further messages left for her.... (full story)

Also see:

CNN on Iraq contracting investigations

"It Was a Wal-Mart For Guns"

and our original Newsweek story on Iraq's Arms Bazaar


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