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March 21, 2003

Iraq: It's Not Just About the Oil

Antiwar protesters who insist Iraq is just about oil are being simplistic. Pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the defense department and industries creates war opportunities for industries far beyond the oil industry, from high-tech companies in telecommunications to corporations looking to use military might to force open new markets throughout the developing world.

But let's start with telecommunications, since the stink of corruption is already piling up there. Richard Perle, uber-hawk and Iraq war promoter on the so-called Defense Policy Board, has sold his influence to the bankrupt Global Crossing company, to push for its sale to a foreign firm:

According to lawyers involved in the review and a legal notice that Global Crossing is preparing to file soon in bankruptcy court, Mr. Perle is to be paid $725,000 by the company, including $600,000 if the government approves the sale of the company to a joint venture of Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a phone company controlled by the government of Singapore...

Lawyers said today that Mr. Perle had been helping Global Crossing for several weeks. They said he was brought in as a prominent Republican with close ties to the current officials. He has taken on a particularly important role, they said, since the company recently pulled back its request for the government to clear the sale in the face of opposition from the Defense Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those agencies have said that the proposed deal presents national security and law enforcement problems, because it would put Global Crossing's worldwide fiber optics network one used by the United States government under Chinese ownership.

Consider that Perle's private firm is also selling "terror alert" software to intelligence agencies around the world:
The Cambridge-based Autonomy Corporation, with Mr Perle's help, is secretively selling advanced computer eavesdropping systems to intelligence agencies around the world.

Its software simultaneously monitors hundreds of thousands of intercepted emails and phone conversations while they are taking place.

It claims to turn patterns of conversation into "beams of light" of varying thickness on a screen, revealing anomalies that might be code phrases.

Clients to date are believed to include MI6 and GCHQ, the newly launched US department of homeland security in Washington, and intelligence agencies in Italy.

Sy Hersh in the New Yorker documented a range of unseemly deals being promoted by Perle for his private economic benefit, including deals involving Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi playboy and arms dealer extraordinaire, best known in the past for his starring role in the Iran-Contra scandal.

The stink of corruption already reaches to the moon, and the upcoming "privatized" reconstruction of Iraq has not even begun.

Posted by Nathan at March 21, 2003 10:17 AM

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