BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Happy Wednesday

(I've got two quick bits on gas & oil - followed by an update in the story of Dale Stoffel, the US defense contractor who was gunned down by "Iraqi insurgents" last December. Skip the oil & gas stuff if it's too dry. Methinks the story of Stoffel is gonna get "really weird" before all is said and done. Nuff said.)

Great news, citizens!

"Oil Prices Shoot to New Intraday High"

Yeah!
Crude oil prices soared to a new intraday high above $56 a barrel Wednesday in spite of a decision by OPEC ministers to authorize the pumping of an extra half-million barrels of oil a day.

Crude futures shot up more than $1 a barrel after the latest petroleum supply report from the U.S. government showed domestic supplies of gasoline and heating oil fell sharply last week.
$3.00 gas by the 4th of July?

"In Hollywood, maybe. But that's what you Hollywood people git fer bein' gay."

Right.

Hey, speaking of oil:

US Concerns On India-Iran Pipeline Due To Legal Impediment

Huh?
CHENNAI, March 15 Asia Pulse - The United States was opposed to a gas pipeline from Iran to India due to a law, which prohibits Teheran's economic expansion, unless it stops its support to terrorists, Teresita Schaffer, former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, said here.

The US "concerns' on the pipeline had no direct link with Iran's nuclear programme, she said, giving a talk on `Security in India's neighbourhood: the view from Washington', organised by the Observer Research Foundation and The Department of Politics & Public Administration, University of Madras.

India, which is scouting around the world for oil and gas to meet its growing energy needs, has tied-up imports of 7.5 million tonnes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) per annum from Iran from 2010 and is negotiating imports of natural gas through an onland pipeline passing through Pakistan.
Hmm.

"The United States was opposed to a gas pipeline from Iran to India due to a law, which prohibits Teheran's economic expansion, unless it stops its support to terrorists."

Somehow - I can't help but think - that SOMEONE was opposed to this pipeline - because they weren't in on the deal.

"They will be."

I'm sure they will.

Finally, the latest twist in the story of Dale Stoffel, the American "defense contractor" who was gunned down in Baghdad AFTER he complained to US & Iraqi offcials about the 27 MILLION BUCKS the Iraqis owed him for "services rendered."

The headline from the Los Angeles Times:

Army Ignored Broker on Arms Deal - U.S. general supervised an Iraq contract that a slain American said was tangled in kickbacks.

Uh, oh.
The U.S. contractor working on (a defense project) repeatedly warned the task force headed by Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus that a Lebanese middleman involved in the deal might be routing kickbacks to Iraqi Defense Ministry officials.

But senior U.S. military officials did not act on the contractor's pleas for tighter financial controls, according to documents and interviews.

"If we proceed down the road we are currently on, there will be serious legal issues that will land us all in jail," the contractor, Dale Stoffel, wrote in a Nov. 30 e-mail to a senior assistant to Petraeus.
Eight days later, Stoffel was shot dead in an ambush near Baghdad. The killing is being investigated by the FBI, according to people who have been interviewed by the bureau.
Again, the dude was hired by the interim Iraqi government and the Iraqi Defense Ministry to "to refurbish Iraq's tanks and personnel carriers and buy new equipment from Eastern European sources." Dude eventually billed the Iraqi to the tune 27 mil. The Iraqis then told Stoffel that the money would come to him via a Lebanese businessman , now identified as Raymond Zayna by the LA Times.

But...
The money was never delivered to Stoffel, who in October began complaining to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad. He wrote letters, previously disclosed by The Times, to Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and a senior Pentagon official spelling out his suspicions about Zayna.

Stoffel also e-mailed U.S. Army Col. David Styles, Petraeus' assistant on the project. He asked Styles to have Petraeus intervene to stop millions of dollars being funneled without oversight through Zayna.
"There is no oversight of the money and if/when something goes wrong, regardless of how clean our hands are, heads will roll and it will be the heads of those that are reachable, and the people who are suppose to know better (US citizens, military, etc.)," Stoffel wrote in the November e-mail to Styles.
Then...things got really weird.
By late November, Stoffel had returned to the United States to seek help in getting his payment. He asked Pentagon officials and Santorum's office to pressure the Iraqis to release the $24.7 million to him.

Stoffel suggested that an international accounting firm be brought in to supervise the contract's financial transactions and clear up questions about the missing money.

He warned of consequences if the money was not recovered.

"News of it will be on the front page under the photos of President Bush, [Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld, me" and Petraeus' task force, Stoffel wrote to another military officer in early December. "Jobs will be lost and congressional hearings will be held."
If you and I were writing a bad script about war and war profiteering, that scene would be followed by a bit where a bunch of nefarious characters plot Stoffel's death.

CUT TO:

INT. MYSTERIOUS OFFICE - NIGHT

An unidentified MAN with reads Stoffel's letter to a smoky room filled with unidentified characters. Then...

MAN - Our...friend...is threatening to go public.

MAN #2 - Dees...ees no good.

MAN #3 - Something...must be done.

Another unidentified MAN picks up a cell phone...

KnowwhatImsaying??
U.S. military officials informed Zayna about the allegations of corruption, according to several people familiar with the matter. British Brig. Gen. David Clements summoned the parties to a Dec. 5 meeting in Iraq. Afterward, Clements ordered Zayna to release the money to Stoffel, sources said.

As of Dec. 8, Stoffel still had not received the money. That day, after he left the Taji military base outside Baghdad, his SUV was rammed by another vehicle. Stoffel and a business associate, Joseph Wemple, were cut down in a hail of bullets.

Another occupant of the vehicle apparently escaped unharmed, leading to suspicions among the victims' friends that he may have been involved in the attack.
Ya think?
About a week later, a previously unknown insurgent group, Brigades of the Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility.
Hmmm.

Brigades of the Islamic Jihad?

Brigades of the Islamic Jihad?

What? "Mujahadeen Without Borders," the group that kidnapped Giuliana Sgrena, was off that week?

Please read the full LA Times story about Dale Stoffel. You can draw your own conclusions.

More later...

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