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What a Tangled Web

As if improvised roadside bombs weren’t enough for our troops in Iraq to worry about:

SOME 200,000 guns the US sent to Iraqi security forces may have been smuggled to terrorists, it was feared yesterday.

The 99-tonne cache of AK47s was to have been secretly flown out from a US base in Bosnia. But the four planeloads of arms have vanished.

Orders for the deal to go ahead were given by the US Department of Defense. But the work was contracted out via a complex web of private arms traders.

And the Moldovan airline used to transport the shipment was blasted by the UN in 2003 for smuggling arms to Liberia, human rights group Amnesty has discovered.

The Moldovan airline, Aerocom, is owned by shadowy Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. And the United States Department of Defense contracted with him last year to transport those now-missing AK47s after a request from the Department of State that all government agencies sever ties with Bout because of his connections to known terror groups:

More than nine months ago the State Department asked the rest of the government to cut off contracts with companies associated with Viktor Bout, the world’s largest arms merchant who is alleged to have supplied weapons to the Taliban and al Qaeda. It took five months for Defense Department to begin to respond and cancel some of his contracts to fly ammuniton and contract personnel into Iraq and around the region.

Bout was dubbed the “Merchant of Death” by a senior British official because, through his web of airplanes and weapons-buying contacts Bout supplied hundreds of tons of weapons to some of the most unsavory characters on the planet, many connected to terrorism. These include Charles Taylor in Liberia, who sold diamonds to al Qaeda; rebels in the Congo and Angola, the drug-trafficking FARC in Colombia, Abu Sayef in the Philippines, and others.
Yet, astoundingly, the Pentagon remains among those willing to pay his price. Airplanes from Bout-controlled Aerocom company, using the call sign “MCC,” continue to fly for private contractors and Pentagon clients there. And he may be getting help from some others in the murky world of Private Military Companies.

Now, Mr. and Mrs. Red State Conservative–and remember that I say this as one of you–we have to ask ourselves: What on God’s green Earth is our government playing at over there? Why is the U.S. government conducting any business at all with men like Viktor Bout?

Most important, why should we allow our children to serve in the military when they face hostiles carrying weapons supplied our government?

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