Declan Ganley's Iraqi Shenanigans
anti-war / imperialism |
Dé hAoine Aibreán 18, 2008 17:23 by Tech1.0
This week's Phoenix magazine has a very interesting article on the Iraqi adventures of one, Declan Ganley of Libertas.
Not to mention a reference to David Cochrane's (of Politics.ie and Libertas), scrubbing of any reference to Ganley's Iraqi connections from his website.
I publish the article here in the national interest.
DECLAN GANLEY’S IRAQI SHENANIGANS
David Cochrane, Declan Ganley’s campaign director for Libertas, has been crying foul over what he describes as harassment of him by Fianna Fail’s solicitors over allegedly libellous comments about Bertie Ahern on his politics.ie website. But Cochrane has threatened heavy handed tactics himself and was swift to erase all trace of questions about Ganley’s activities in Iraq on the same website.
Early this year, one of politics.ie’s users made reference to Blood Money, Wasted Billions, Lost Lives and Corporate Greed in Iraq, a book on the reconstruction of Iraq by the American Coalition Provisional Authority, which outlined the wheeling and dealing during the bidding for contracts by such companies as Halliburton, of which vice president Dick Cheney used to be ceo. The book also outlined in detail how Ganley’s Liberty Mobile had unsuccessfully tried to get a slice of the reconstruction pie in 2004.
Ganley has extensive connections to the neo-con Republican administration in the US. As Goldhawk pointed out (see The Phoenix, 25/01/08), one of Ganley’s advisors in his Rivada Networks is a former Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Kneuer, while Ganley counts Admiral Timothy J Keating, head of the US Pacific Command, as one of his pals. However, Ganley’s most important trans-Atlantic relationship is with long-time business partner Don DeMarino, with whom
he had bid for a mobile phone licence here in Ireland back in 1998.
Ganley, in a consortium with US phone company Qualcomm, had made two attempts in 2003 to get a contract to build a cellular phone network in Iraq. Neither was successful, with the contracts going to European companies instead. While Ganley was licking his wounds over the failures, a row broke out over the two types of cellular phone systems; one of the systems, GSM, predominantly used in Europe and the other, CDMA, mainly used in the USA. That the European system was chosen greatly hacked off American companies, who saw their country’s hard work in ‘liberating’ Iraq not being rewarded with the spoils of war. One of those who was most annoyed was John A Shaw, deputy undersecretary in the Department of Defence, who just happened to be a lifelong pal of Ganley’s friend, DeMarino.
Shaw had a novel wheeze to help get American companies in on the mobile phone action in Iraq. The contract for Baghdad’s first responder network (that is, the communication system between the police, fire and ambulance services in the city) was up for grabs. Shaw suggested using a piece of positive discrimination legislation written up in the 80s (designed to promote the business interests of Alaskan Eskimos) which allowed companies with Eskimos on their board to bid for no-competition contracts. Crucially, those companies could then sub-contract the work out to whomever they liked.
According to Blood Money, in late 2003, Shaw introduced Ganley to the directors of NANA Pacific, an Alaskan company, with whom he formed a consortium including a new business entity, Guardian Net (which consisted of a couple of old business pals of Ganley’s, including DeMarino).
So far, so good for Ganley, and all perfectly legal. Unfortunately, the NANA/Guardian consortium pushed their luck too far and in their bid for the first responder contract in early 2004 they suggested in discussions with officials in the coalition authority that the network would form a footprint for a commercial network based on the American cellular system. This would, of course, give US companies a chance to avail of the billions of dollars on offer to mobile phone companies in a future, peaceful Iraq. The coalition authority, though, needed a first responder network, not another mobile phone system and in March 2004 they threw out NANA’s bid and started the whole process again. And there ended Ganley’s interest in Iraq’s mobile phone network.
Unfortunately, it was not the end of Ganley’s new pal John Shaw’s interest, and he lambasted the officials who had rejected the bid, suggested massive corruption in the bidding process, and generally made a nuisance of himself. This led to the resignation of two senior officials and delayed even further the process of setting up the first responder network. In October 2004, the wacky Shaw publicly claimed that the infamous WMDs in Iraq had been spirited out of the country by Russian special-forces, a claim that so embarrassed senior White House Officials that they sacked him.
Los Angeles Times journalist T Christian Miller wrote extensively about the entire debacle, which didn’t please Ganley (who had spoken on-the-record to Miller in 2004), and the angry millionaire threatened the hack with legal action, though he never actually filed any writs. Ganley is clearly still sore about the whole affair, though, and when a contributor to Cochrane’s website posted a link to the book, Cochrane deleted the post, cancelled the contributor’s account, and sent an email to his personal email account threatening him and his company (from whose computer the contributor had accessed politics.ie) with legal action.