It's not as if U.S. forces don't have their hands full fighting the Global War on Terrorism, or GWOT, in Iraq. Turns out sometimes Iraq serves as a hot spot in the Global War on Drugs (GWOD), as well.
Seems U.S. security personnel earlier this year quietly broke up a steroid-dealing ring in Baghdad that provided the muscle enhancer to a number of Iraqi and American contract employees.
Word is the ring, which apparently bought the steroids in Amman, Jordan, at markets at the Baghdad airport, at an Iraqi market near the Green Zone PX and at other spots in the Green Zone, planned to ship the drugs to the United States for sale.
The operation began to unravel on Dec. 31, 2004, when Marine Corps guards stopped an Iraqi, who worked for KBR construction, carrying a "large box of hypodermic needles" and a "substantial amount of anabolic steroids and other prescription drugs," according to a government report. The Iraqi spilled the beans on a "sizeable network of steroid distribution and use among U.S. nationals [in] the Embassy Annex."
Nine Americans working for KBR and Blackwater Security Consulting were booted out of the country, and four Iraqis working for KBR were fired.
Much of the action went on -- where else? -- near the international zone fitness center.
Speaking of Iraq, the controversy over the war has sparked rhetorical heat not felt since Vietnam, when antiwar leaders routinely called top officials, especially then-Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and then-Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, "war criminals."
Now Lawrence B. Wilkerson, chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, tiptoed awfully close to using the "WC" epithet in talking about Vice President Cheney.
Wilkerson, interviewed by BBC radio on Tuesday, accused Cheney of ignoring a decision by President Bush on the treatment of prisoners held in the "war on terror."
So could Cheney be accused of war crimes?
"It's an interesting question," Wilkerson mused. "Certainly, it's a domestic crime to advocate terror. And I would suspect, for whatever it's worth, it's an international crime, as well."
At DHS, the Audience Is the Issue
The Department of Homeland Security's privacy advisory committee -- set up to ensure that DHS does not unduly infringe on privacy rights -- wanted to change a requirement that it publish the names of people who attend public meetings.
The requirement had upset many of those interested in attending the meetings because, oddly enough, they tend to be a bit touchy about, well, privacy, as well as public access to government proceedings.
Publishing the names of everyone attending "will have a chilling effect" on those key matters, says Center for Democracy and Technology associate director Ari Schwartz.
The DHS counsel's office says the Federal Advisory Committee Act clearly requires that everyone who RSVPs to attend must have his name published.
But privacy folks counter that the implementing regulations are crystal clear -- and should be so even to lawyers -- that the only people who need to be named are the committee members who attend along with participating witnesses.
There may be some Hill action on this. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), senior Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, weighed in yesterday, issuing a statement urging DHS "to reconsider the policy."
Watch this space.
FEMA Brand -- So Hot You'd Better Hide It
The Federal Protective Service has advised 2,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency workers in Louisiana not to wear FEMA-branded clothing in public because of threats against them.
Six people were recently arrested in connection with the threats, officials said.
Threatening e-mails intensified before Thanksgiving Day, and in one case a man brandished a knife outside a FEMA office in Baton Rouge before eluding security, FEMA spokesman Marty Bahamonde told our colleague Spencer Hsu.
FPS also suggested FEMA staffers not wear FEMA clothing outside work, carry pepper spray in the field and be more attentive to their surroundings.
"If you wear a FEMA shirt into the office, when you leave work have a change of clothing in your car so when you go into a restaurant you're not wearing FEMA clothing," Bahamonde said. "FPS gave us guidelines, certainly not to make us worry, but to be more aware of our situation."
FEMA has faced similar threats in other disaster recovery efforts.