David Kirkpatrick

February 16, 2009

Military scandal with Iraq reconstruction funds?

I’d like to see some domestic reporting on this story, because it would completely rock the US military to think high-ranking officials engaged in this level of criminal activity. A scandal like this this would send shock waves throughout the armed forces and be an image-destroyer and would call into question the entire culture of the US military.

Here is reporting from the Independent in the UK:

In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (£88bn) in a US -directed effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff’s notorious Ponzi scheme.

“I believe the real looting of Iraq after the invasion was by US officials and contractors, and not by people from the slums of Baghdad,” said one US businessman active in Iraq since 2003.

In one case, auditors working for SIGIR discovered that $57.8m was sent in “pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills” to the US comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr, who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money. He is among the few US officials who were in Iraq to be convicted of fraud and money-laundering.

Despite the vast sums expended on rebuilding by the US since 2003, there have been no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline except those at work building a new US embassy and others rusting beside a half-built giant mosque that Saddam was constructing when he was overthrown. One of the few visible signs of government work on Baghdad’s infrastructure is a tireless attention to planting palm trees and flowers in the centre strip between main roads. Those are then dug up and replanted a few months later.

(Hat tip: Wes)

January 7, 2009

Looks like Roland Burris …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:40 pm

… will likely take over Obama’s vacant Senate seat. Burris was Blago’s little parting middle finger to the Democratic establishment before going up river for quite a while.

He was asked to not fill the seat while reeling under allegations that have him caught dead-to-rights in the crosshairs of a federal investigation. This is something of a gift for the GOP. Time does change things, but for now Burris will be seen as damaged goods and tainted if only by the nature of his appointment, and the fact Blagojevich got himself into the deep water by virtue of attempting to sell that very appointment.

From the link:

Senate leaders began to clear the way for Roland Burris to take over President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant seat, saying they wanted the issue resolved quickly.

Burris met Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin, a day after his paperwork was rejected at the opening of the 111th Congress.

They called the meeting ”positive” and indicated that the Senate would be open to seating Burris once legal hurdles are resolved and Burris clears the air over his appointment.

Senate officials in both parties, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for Senate members, said there is a growing expectation on Capitol Hill that the saga will end with Burris being seated. 

Senate officials say Burris’ appointment still has to be certified by Illinois’ secretary of state.

Burris met for 45 minutes Wednesday morning with Reid and Durbin. Only days ago, both senators were arguing that Burris’ nomination was so tainted that he should not be seated and would be blocked.

July 16, 2008

The New Yorker, Obama and “the cover”

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:50 pm

It looks like Obama’s taken the opportunity offered by the New Yorker cover illustration controversy to speak out on and defend Muslim-Americans.

From the link — the question is from Larry King on CNN:

How do you fight that?

OBAMA: Well, you know, by getting on “Larry King” and telling everybody I’m a Christian and I wasn’t raised in a Muslim home. And pledge allegiance to the flag. And, you know, all the things that have been reported in these e-mails are completely untrue and have been debunked again and again and again. So, all you can do is just tell the truth and trust in the American people that over time, they’re going to know what the truth is.

One last point I want to — I do want to make about these e-mails, though. And I think this has an impact on this “New Yorker” cover.

You know, this is actually an insult against Muslim-Americans, something that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about. And sometimes I’ve been derelict in pointing that out.

You know, there are wonderful Muslim-Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things. And for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate. And it’s not what America’s all about.

I’ve blogged on some of the smears Obama has faced here, here and here.

Whatever effect the New Yorker cover is having on the election, it seems it may be biting the venerable magazine where it really hurts — the bottom line:

Rumors have swirled inside Condé Nast that advertisers also were upset with the latest rhubarb, which depicts Barack Obama in Muslim garb and wife Michelle as a machine gun-toting radical.

And:

While this type of controversy is the last thing a publisher needs in these troubled times, certainly if it gives advertisers pause, the timing is especially bad for The New Yorker.

The magazine is now among the most troubled magazines at Condé Nast, and it remains to be seen if the current controversy upsets the title’s tenuous hold on profitability.

Through the July 7 issue, The New Yorker is down a staggering 21.2 percent in ad pages to 699.69, compared with the same period a year ago, when it racked up 887, according to Media Industry Newsletter, which tracks the industry.

March 31, 2008

Clinton’s Bosnian flap goes on

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:10 pm

Clinton’s “misstatement” about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia was a pretty stupid statement. She’s been rightly pilloried by the YouTube parodies and the MSM, but now it’s just a pile on. Even the little girl who she protected from sniper fire read poetry to her is in on the act

From the Daily Kos link:

First it was the 3am little girl, now grown, speaking out for Barack Obama.  Now it’s the little girl in the Bosnia video!

“It is an ugly thing for a politician to tell lies,’ she said. “We had problems for years, and I don’t like when someone lies about them. It makes us look bad.”

Story at the NY Post.

February 22, 2008

McCain scandal update — brokered GOP convention scenario

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:02 pm

Here’s a Daily Dish post on David Brook’s coverage  of John McCain’s little, er, issue:

Brooks Covers the McCain Beat

22 Feb 2008 03:29 pm

by Reihan

Little-known fact: David Brooks began his career in journalism at Chicago’s City News Bureau, where he pounded the pavement on the crime beat. In today’s column, he unravels the rivalries and wounded egos that threaten to bring down the McCain campaign shoe-leather-style. And he also notes McCain’s Hart-like vulnerability.

At his press conference Thursday, McCain went all-in. He didn’t just say he didn’t remember a meeting about Iseman. He said there was no meeting. If it turns out that there is evidence of an affair and a meeting, then his presidential hopes will be over.If no evidence surfaces, his campaign will go on and it will be clear that there were members of his old inner circle consumed by viciousness and mendaciousness.

Remember when Gary Hart dared the press to find evidence of his, ahem, “Monkey Business”? Well, they did. The bluster and bravado that I like and admire in McCain, and that my lefty friends can’t stand, might indeed be the end of him.

Brooks’s column reminded me, oddly enough, of Sam Anderson’s brilliant investigative feature on The Splasher. It’s awesome.

So if there is fire behind an admittedly pretty feeble smoke trail, would the derailing of the Straight Talk Express lead to a brokered GOP convention? Seems that would allow Saint Fred or Saint Mitt — hell, maybe even Saint Newt — step to the podium and “save” conservatism as is remains today.

February 21, 2008

Scandal? McCain?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:52 pm

Hit this link for Reason’s Hit & Run response to the McCain scandal/firestorm set off by the NY Times story. It covers the bases as good as any I’ve found. The response isn’t a rabid, gleeful takedown, and it isn’t a rabid protective shell either.

The whole NYT article is full of flash and innuendo, and fairly bereft of substance.

This is the story Team McCain was able to kill a few months ago. From what I’ve read the NYT decided to move forward when it became clear other publications were going to run the story — one they’ve been sourcing for a long time.

Take that for what you will. Maybe the Times has solid deeper dirt they aren’t willing to publish because of tenuous sourcing, or maybe this is just as smoke-and-mirrorsy as it looks.

At any rate it’s a handful of pennies on the Straight Talk Express if nothing else.

(And no, I’m not the David Kirkpatrick involved in that story. To make matters even more confusing, there’s also an editor and contributor at Fortune sharing our name. All this is even more confusing when I’m wearing my business journalist hat. Doesn’t happen all the time, but I do it every once in a while.)

Update: Here’s more good stuff from Reason (with interesting links to the New Republic take)

Update #2: It looks like the story didn’t pass the NYT ombudsman’s smell test either.