COMMENTS: Oil Trickles Down, Just Not Yet

Both NBC and ABC looked at the benefits from the boom in crude oil prices on Iraq. In Baghdad, ABC's Nick Schifrin followed up Wednesday's coverage by CBS' Chip Reid of the Government Accountability Office report that the Iraqi government is running a $79bn annual surplus, thanks to oil exports, yet is still spending a tenth of that on infrastructure reconstruction. Schifrin ticked off the to-do list: the electricity supply operates for just ten hours each day; only 17% of sewage is treated; and one child in three has access to potable water. NBC's Ned Colt traveled to the north of the Persian Gulf to show us the offshore terminals that handle 90% of Iraq's oil exports. Trade there has tripled since April. Colt introduced us to the Iraqi navy, whose principal task is protecting those terminals--"only 1,000 sailors and no seagoing ships, just five slightly rusty patrol boats made in China."

Elsewhere in the Persian Gulf is Kish Island, where Bob Levinson, a onetime FBI agent turned organized crime investigator, was last seen some 18 months ago. He disappeared, his passport unused, his credit cards uncharged. Kish Island is part of Iran and NBC anchor Brian Williams asked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Levinson's status during his Exclusive Teheran interview last month. When Ahmadinejad replied "we are ready to help," NBC's Pete Williams reported, "to the FBI that was a breakthrough."


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