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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

November 4, 2007


Checking it Out

I'm a C-SPAN browser. I'm one of those people who don't go looking for a particular C-SPAN segment, but when coming across one that interests me, I'll keep my television glued to it until I lose interest. (And I will lose interest.)

On October 30, Stuart Bowen, Jr., the Inspector General who investigates failures in Iraq's reconstruction effort, told the House Appropriations Sub-Committee that there is no one person responsible for the reconstruction effort in the purple-finger nation. Even though an order issued in 2006, one that came from the Iraq Study Group's recommendation, that one person must be in charge of the reconstruction effort said that the State Department must do so. According to Bowen's testimony, there are at least three separate individuals who oversee bits and pieces of the effort, with many, many areas left unsupervised. In fact, when asked by the House committee, Bowen acknowledged that many of the funds earmarked for much of the reconstruction has no one in charge of them. In other words, there is no one to answer the question, :How's it going?"

"The report contains a detailed review of SIGIR’s continuing work overseeing the approximately $45 billion appropriated by Congress for Iraq’s relief and reconstruction. Of that amount, about 74 percent is obligated, and 60 percent has been expended. Since 2003, the United States, Iraq, and international donors have provided or pledged more than $100 billion for Iraq’s recovery."
-Bowen's written statement to the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Committee on Appropriations

With 60 percent of the $45 billion already spent ($27 billion) one would love to know exactly where that money was spent. Remember the words of the Bush administration when they said that this war would cost no more than $1.5 billion to the American people? Remember when Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, when he said about the invasion of Iraq, "It could last...six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."? As we approach our fifth year in Iraq; and as we approach our four-thousandth American military death there, we have to ask about the progress being made there and about the effort.

We still don't really know.

It should be noted that Mr. Bowen is a Bushie from years back. But even this "Loyal Bushie" can't sugarcoat the truth as others in the administration have over the years. The opening statement included such headings as these:
-Concerns about the Mosul Dam
-$1.2 Billion Police Training Program Needs Better Oversight
-IFMIS (Iraq Financial Management System) Suspended

And although each one of these headings has "Suggestions" for improvement implementation, the fact is that a great many, if not a great majority, of infrastructure projects have been wither mishandled, misappropriated or just plain missed.

And what about the biggest contractor in Iraq, KBR, a division of Dick Cheney's Halliburton? here's what the statement had to say about them:

"KBR Audit Last quarter, SIGIR performance audit of KBR’s 'life-support' contract task orders supporting both DoD (Department of Defense) and DoS (Department of State) missions in Iraq found a number of contract management weaknesses that needed to be addressed."
-The Statement

I wonder what they mean by "need to be addressed". And I wonder how they're going to change a system so rife with, if not real, then apparent to the naked-eye, corruption? As Rumsfeld might say, "Who knows?"

Loyal Bushie Bowen also seems to realize that his boss(es) are at the helm of an opaque and secret-ridden administration, even if his words attempted to conceal it:

"The unliquidated obligations audit found that, with respect to more than $2 billion in unexpended IRRF dollars, DoD, DoS, and USAID should improve the use of the remaining funds by better documenting results and expediting the de-obligation of funds for use on other projects."
-The Report

Let's face it, this post-war war has been the worst run reconstruction effort in our nation's history. Just think about the "mishandling" of other monies and goods by those "running the show" for our government: First there was the missing $8.8 billion of Iraqi oil revenue dollars - no one knows where that cash went; next there was the $10 billion dollars in $100 bills that was described as being handed out of the "back of a truck" to almost anyone with a pick-up truck - reportedly that money was given out in "bricks"; and then there were the 190,000 weapons that went out the door without any kind of real accounting - before he was in charge of our effort in Baghdad, the guy who ran that program was none other than General Petraeus. Oops!

The report even noted the corruption in Iraq.

"Corruption is a “second insurgency” that continues to exert a corrosive force on Iraq’s fledgling democracy. Iraq’s three primary anticorruption agencies have seen a significant increase in their caseloads this year."
-The Report

And why wouldn't there be corruption? It appears that there's corruption from the top down in the reconstruction effort.

"...if you can't think of all the pieces of them together, then you're not ever going to end up with a response that works,"

And that's at the heart of the matter: Planning. It was, and still is, simply poor planning that has cost the US taxpayer dollars in this effort in Iraq. And it is this same ineptitude that will continue to drain our economy, in the form of the middle class pocket-book, over the rest of the Bush years in office. And it will cost lives as well - lots and lots of lives.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg