All right, first things first. I’m sorry for not having produced an update in awhile. First, my daughter, Rachel, who was overseeing the distribution of these updates had temporarily gone out of town so I had to reconstruct the mailing list. I added a few addresses but, if you know of someone who received these in the past and I missed them, please let me know so that I can include them in the future. I apologize for any omissions. Second, I was on R&R leave which I think you all knew from my last update so I wasn’t “in country” for about 28 days. Third, I had a major investigation break open that has taken about all my waking moments. Finally, my father suffered a stroke several days back. Not that there was a lot that I can do from here, but it sure weighs heavy on one’s mind when one is far from home. I know he’s getting the best care possible and, hopefully, he will recover. I’m informed he is having trouble speaking. I hope with time that might improve. All I can ask is to keep him in your prayers.
Now, I might as well print a news article about the case right here just in case it didn’t hit your news stands.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CRM
FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2006 (202) 514-2008
WWW.USDOJ.GOV TDD (202) 514-1888
U.S. CIVILIAN TRANSLATOR ARRESTED FOR OFFERING BRIBE
TO IRAQI POLICE OFFICIAL
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An employee of a government contractor working in Iraq has been arrested on a charge of offering to bribe an Iraqi police official, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein of the District of Columbia announced today.
Faheem Mousa Salam, 27, of Livonia, Michigan, was arrested at Dulles International Airport Thursday upon returning from Iraq. He was charged with offering to bribe a foreign official under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Salam is a naturalized U.S. citizen employed by Titan Corporation, and had been living in Baghdad, Iraq.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the District of Columbia, Salam offered a senior Iraqi police official approximately $60,000 for the official's assistance with facilitating the purchase by a police training organization of approximately 1,000 armored vests and a sophisticated map printer for approximately $1 million. The complaint alleges that Salam later made final arrangements with an undercover agent of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction - posing as a procurement officer for the multinational Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) in Iraq - for the map printer and vests, along with a separate $28,000 to $35,000 "gift" to process the contracts.
The maximum sentence for a charge of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is five years in prison plus a $100,000 fine or twice the gross gain, whichever is greater.
A criminal complaint is merely and accusation and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted jointly by Fraud Section Deputy Chief Mark Mendelsohn and Trial Attorney Stacy Luck of the Criminal Division, Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Roth, Chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, and Jonathan Rosen of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. The case is being investigated by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
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After we arranged to get this guy to the States and hooked, I had to shift into high gear. The news spread like wild fire especially amongst the translators. There’s lots more work to do as well but, then again, that’s why I’m here. I put in some long hours though. After we got this guy wheels up out of Baghdad International on MilAir, we wound down for a little bit. However, we were in constant communication with one of my agents (I’m presently acting Special Agent in Charge) who was shadowing him for fear he might not go back to the USA but decide to spend life as a fugitive elsewhere. Then I received a telephone call at 5:00 A.M. from the Assistant United States Attorney announcing that the target was in custody and it started. That day ended around 10:00 P.M. However, the following day started at 6:00 A.M. and didn’t end until 12:30 A.M. the following morning. I was pretty well beat up and am still trying to catch up. When the AUSA called me, he asked me how the weather was in Baghdad. I told him the weather is a lot like Palm Springs, CA except for the smell of the oil refinery down town and the sewage running in the streets in places.
Okay, enough about the case. As stated previously, my flight out of country for R&R was great. I flew on the Brits Puma Helo and it was an awesome ride. I spent several days in Michigan with my relatives and ate awesome food, drank homemade wine, and just kicked back. It’s amazing going back to the USA. The air smells just a little bit cleaner, everything is neater, and the food and drink just tastes wonderful. It’s also great to be around loved ones. Once home I met my grandchild, Angelina Marie. Needless to say, she has Grandpa hooked pretty good. I have to admit it was pretty hard getting on that airplane to come back here. But I’m glad I did. There’s work to be done and I’ve made quite a few friends. Unfortunately upon returning I found that some really close contacts had deployed out. I do miss them but I’m glad that they are back with their families and loved ones. I had a great flight getting back into country as well. In fact, just after stepping off the C-130 at Baghdad Airport, we shuttled to another landing zone and I caught a Blackhawk to go back to the International Zone. I was the only person on the Blackhawk and felt like a VIP. However, I knew there were two Assistant United States Attorneys who came on the C-130 waiting for a trip at the landing zone. I explained this to the crew and at first they ignored me. I started to unbuckle my harness to go get the attorneys myself as the Blackhawk crew wasn’t moving. I guess I shamed them into action because they went to the waiting area and found the two attorneys. A Blackhawk can carry a lot of people, probably 16 + flight crew and gunners and there were only three of us. It was interesting as well as the part of Baghdad we flew over seemed in better condition than I had ever seen before.
It’s also been relatively quiet here. I know the media is really emphasizing the attacks amongst the various factions but attacks on us have been way down. There was that scheme to attack the IZ with 421 insurgents but good intelligence work put that one down in a hurry. I’m still very frustrated at watching the Iraqis quarrel and war amongst themselves continually settling scores. This country has so much potential to be great and it’s just a pity to watch it self destruct. You know people don’t realize that Iraq holds a lot more than oil in a crucial section of the Middle East. Take a look at a map and you’ll see what I mean. There are a lot of border countries around Iraq that don’t have near the water resources that are in Iraq and that could be cleaned up. Having oil is one thing but you can’t drink it and I don’t know anyone who can survive without water. Having the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers running right through the center of the country should be prime natural resource jewels. I still think it’s going to take the average citizen to rise above the fear that saying anything is going to get you killed in order for this country to turn the corner. For example, there was an attack on a police station but 100 armed insurgents and sympathizers. Now I’ve been on enough raids to tell you that even 20 armed officers can be detected rather readily in the United States. When you have 100 armed people in vehicles or on the street amassing for an all out assault on a police station, SOMEBODY had to see SOMETHING. These things are detectable, they need to be reported. Yet there’s not reports forthcoming. I think it will continue to change with time but it’s slow. You can’t live in a regime where you may have been killed merely for voicing an object.
This week we had some winds come up and knock over two big palms trees. One fell about 40 yards from my hootch. No one was hurt but having something like that fall down would not be fun. Like the other things that are dangerous here, it’s a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tonight was the first night I got back with the choir. I’ve been running so hard on this case, I haven’t even made it to mass but once since I got back. It felt good to be back with the choir again. Fr. Dennis, our chaplain, came back but he is scheduled to rotate out in 5 weeks. He really is starting to look tired. I’m sure the constant stress of dealing with the dead, the dying, the wounded, and those with emotionally draining personal issues would get to anyone after awhile. He still has his sense of humor but you can see it in him. His replacement is actually a priest from the Anglican Church who is converting to Catholicism. I’ve heard of this but I’m not well versed in it. Apparently, priests in the Anglican Church have all powers of a Catholic priest. Even though they are married, as this one is, they are permitted to become Catholic priests. So, this priest will be our new parish priest for St. Michael’s. Fr. Dennis refers to him as “the protestant.” Like I said he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
During this week, I was able to meet several congressional delegates. I met Craig Thomas from Wyoming, Jeff Sessions from Alabama, and Ken Salazar from Colorado. All were very nice. I spoke with Ken Salazar at length as his younger brother, Elliot, was in the special agent basic training class that I mentored in 1995 at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA. Small world, eh?
Well, some of my Italian Alpini friends had to return home. I was hoping to see them again but perhaps they will return before I depart. I had dinner with some of them the other night and it was just enjoyable talking Italian to them while they spoke English to me.
A few funny things happened this week that bear mentioning. We have an auditor husband and wife team here. They are about in their mid fifties. With the weather getting nice, there are people sunbathing mid day at the pool. Some of the ladies are wearing some rather skimpy suits. The wife auditor voices displeasure at a staff meeting that the pool side bathing beauties are improperly attired given our environment. Now there’s not a lot anyone can do about it but several suggested that she not give her husband reason to look at the sunbathers if that was an issue.
The second issue involved a Chief of Staff meeting with Ambassador Khalizad. Apparently a State Department dynamo left her cell phone on which the Ambassador has routinely said he wants off during meetings. The phone doesn’t just ring once but three times. By the third time the Ambassador was glaring at her and told her to take her and the telephone outside. The lady gets nervous, drops the phone on the floor, the battery goes flying and the whole meeting is disrupted. Needless to say the Ambassador was not pleased. I can only imagine what was said after the meeting but can you believe doing something like that when there is someone that high up in a meeting. I mean the ambassador is the president’s representative in any given country.
Well, my eyes are just about shut. I’m not even going to proof this as I need to get out of here and get some rest as tomorrow will be another big day.
I promise not to stay away so long from correspondence. I wish all of you well and please keep the thoughts and prayers coming.
With best regards, Bob.