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The weekly watchdog: Nov. 21 - Nov. 23

This week's top investigations from iWatch News

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On right, destroyed Libyan missiles pictured from disarmament in December 2003.

State.gov, AP

Fingers Point to Iran on Libyan Chemical Weapons

The Obama administration is investigating whether Iran supplied the Libyan government of Moammar Gadhafi with hundreds of special artillery shells for chemical weapons that Libya kept secret for decades, according to an iWatch News/Washington Post story this week. The shells, which Libya filled with highly toxic mustard agent, were uncovered in recent weeks by revolutionary fighters at two sites in central Libya. Both are under heavy guard and round-the-clock drone surveillance, U.S. and Libyan officials said. A U.S. official with access to classified information confirmed there were "serious concerns" that Iran had provided the shells, albeit some years ago. In recent weeks, UN inspectors have released new information indicating that Iran has the capability to develop a nuclear bomb, a charge Iranian officials have long rejected.

IMPACT: European Bluefin tuna database overhauled

Nearly 50 countries that trade in high-priced Eastern Atlantic Bluefin tuna agreed last weekend to transform an archaic paper-based method for tracking fish into a digitalized system that officials say will make it harder for fleets to smuggle plundered bluefin to market. Last year, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed the paper-based Bluefin Catch Document scheme as so full of holes as to render it virtually useless. Member countries of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas , the body charged with protecting the bluefin stocks threatened by overfishing, will implement the new electronic system by the time ships set out in the spring of 2013.

Newt’s Giant Money Machine

The three pillars of what’s often dubbed Newt Inc. — two for-profit groups and one defunct political committee — raked in more than $105 million in revenue and donations from 2001 through 2010 while Newt Gingrich was eyeing a political comeback. This week, those groups are attracting new scrutiny as the former speaker appears to be gaining momentum and winning new supporters in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. The two for-profit outfits, the Gingrich Group, a consulting firm, and a think tank, the Center for Health Transformation, said in a statement that from 2001 through 2010 they worked for more than 300 members and clients. Many are leading health care companies and insurers. The gross revenues from these members and clients came to almost $55 million. A pretty nice haul for a guy who describes himself as an historian.

Alleged White House shooter used controversial assault rifle

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, accused of firing shots recently at the White House, allegedly used a Romanian-made gun that was the subject of an iWatch News investigation earlier this year. A source said the weapon used in the incident was a so-called WASR-10, a Romanian version of the Kalashnikov assault weapon that is sold in the United States by a Florida-based importer, Century International Arms. These guns have frequently been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico linked to drug trafficking. The WASR-10 has been the subject of scrutiny in part because of the route it has traveled from Romania to the United States to Mexico — a journey made legally even though for years it has actually been illegal to import high-powered, semiautomatic weapons that do not have a “sporting purpose” into the U.S.

 

Until next week, 

Bill Buzenberg 
Executive Director