Laura Rozen has been following the story. According to her December 13th blog,
"Douglas Farah flags quite a scoop by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff. Not only has notorious "Merchant of Death" blood-diamonds trafficker Victor Bout been flying ammunition into Iraq under US government contract. It's been flying it in for Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subisidiary of Dick Cheney's Halliburton. Not once or twice or a dozen times: 142 times."
At today's DoD Special Defense Department Briefing on Iraq Reconstruction: - LINK *Mr. Hess is Charlie Hess, who is the director of the Project and Contracting Office in Iraq
Q: There are reports that air cargo companies affiliated with a Russian arms dealer by the name of Viktor -- I'm probably mispronouncing it -- Bout, B-o-u-t -- have received a fair amount of business in Iraq despite the fact that he's on a Treasury Department blacklist. Do you know anything about it, first of all? And do you have any mechanisms in place to ensure that that kind of thing doesn't happen?
MR. HESS: Well, in terms of our contracts -- and that certainly does not sound like one, is is not one that I am familiar with at all -- but our contracts, our contracting officers will certainly look at the debarred contract list and at the embargoed contractor list to make sure that we're not dealing with firms that are, in fact, precluded from working with the U.S. government.
Q: But you don't have any information about --
MR. HESS: I have no information on this one whatsoever. I mean, if you could give me some more information about what they're doing. Is this a service contract of some sort, I take it?
Q: All I know is air cargo.
MR. HESS: I have not heard anything about that. But if you had some details, we can certainly check into it.