by David Phinney
Saturday August 24th 2019

Insider

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Worth a Read: Mercenaries Pick up the Slack,
Custer Battles Off the Hook, Missing Billions

The Scotsman reports mumblings that private security may be used to fill gap left by UK drawdown in Iraq:

Officials from the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence will meet representatives from the private security industry within the next month to discuss “options” for increasing their business in Iraq in the coming years.

Custer Battles exonerated: Michael Battles tells The Providence Journal of his frustration in having his private security company nailed as the poster child for war profiteering in Iraq. The news media portrayed his company, Custer Battles, as a participant in a modern-day Wild West — that being post-invasion Iraq.

….fraught with prospects for fast money and for violence in the months after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Battles said such images live on in Google and other Internet search engines, despite the fact that the civil accusations against him and Custer have come to nothing. He said that he and Custer have never been told that they were the target of any criminal investigations.

Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker suggests some of the missing cash from Iraq reconstruction may be funding covert operations against Iran and clandestine work in Lebanon:

The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said….

A Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight, was accounting for covert funds:

“There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.

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