Military's Iraq Payoff Scandal

Could the familiar story of the Iraq war's early bungled reconstruction effort get any worse? Yes, it could. The military is now investigating its own senior officers, who are suspected of trading contracts for huge bribes. In a dramatic twist, much of the testimony driving the investigation into the massive corruption scandal comes posthumously from Dale C. Stoffel, an American arms dealer killed under mysterious circumstances by hostile forces in Iraq in 2004. Stoffel described to officials shady deals in which contractors would deliver tens of thousands of dollars hidden in pizza boxes to military leaders in order to score lucrative reconstruction jobs. The New York Times reports the investigation is focused on two officers who held top positions in distributing reconstruction funds shortly after the invasion—Lt. Col. Ronald W. Hirtle of the Air Force and retired Col. Anthony B. Bell of the Army.