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Author`s name Michael Simpson

The Looting of Iraq

Both American reporters and servicemen steal from Saddam's palaces
What is happening in Iraq at present is not surprising. Such things could not help but happen: Both Iraqi nationals and coalition soldiers are being implicated in looting.

Saddam Hussein's gorgeous palaces impress the Western journalists reporting on events in Iraq. The temptation to take a couple of "souvenirs" is too strong, and it seems that it is difficult for people to refuse it. There is no guarantee all the facts about the looting are being exposed to the public eye.

Here is a short wrap-up of recent news messages on the matter:

Four servicemen in the U.S. Marine Corps tried to steal $1 million dollars that had been found in one of Saddam's palaces. However, they were not successful in their attempt. Their names were not reported; it is only known that they served in the fourth battalion of the 64th division.

Benjamin James Johnson, who worked as an engineer for Fox News, caused serious damage to the reputation of the company. When the 27-year-old Johnson returned to the United States, the customs service at Dulles International Airport found 12 paintings with him, as well as a pack of Iraqi dinars, that were not mentioned in the customs declaration. Well, there is nothing wrong with dinars, for they are not valuable, but this cannot be said about the paintings. Johnson said that he had received them as presents from grateful Iraqis. However, it later turned out that Benjamin and several U.S. marines had visited a palace that had belonged to Saddam's son, Uday.

Boston Herald reporter Jules Crittenden was more prudent: He declared a painting, gold-plated emblem, gun holster and knife. Crittenden is not going to be charged with smuggling, although he will have to bid goodbye to his "souvenirs" anyway.

Finally, there was another occasion of theft registered of larger scale. As a result of auditing, it became known that New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority had concealed revenues in the sum of more than $1 billion dollars. Employees had used a double-entry means of bookkeeping: For internal and external use. Economists at the department "moved" $512.5 million dollars from the year 2002 accounting books to year 2003 books. The 2002 profit was underreported from $537 million to $24.6 million. The same thing has been done to the profit at the beginning of the current year. However, the department’s administration was planning to raise metro and bus tickets from 50 cents to $2 dollars on account of the "low" profitability of the public-transportation sector.

Based on news reports

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