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Mismanagement at Pentagon hurting Iraq’s reconstruction



Published: Sat, July 31, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

Seven years after the U.S.-led inva- sion freed Iraq from the shackles of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, Iraqis are still waiting for the better life that had been promised with the advent of democracy. To be sure, the social and political strictures imposed by the murderous dictator, Saddam, have been removed, but their daily lives remain a challenge.

Electricity service is spotty — for those fortunate enough to have power. Outages are a daily occurrence and generation capacity is falling far short of demand. Fuel shortages are common and unemployment remains high.

These difficulties exist despite the fact that Congress allocated $53 billion for the rebuilding of the country and the Pentagon received $9.1 billion from the Development Fund for Iraq for humanitarian needs and reconstruction. Thus the question: With all that money, why is life still so tough for so many Iraqis? Indeed, there is growing disenchantment with the whole idea of democracy, especially in Baghdad and other population centers.

The answer to the question was revealed this week in an audit of the Pentagon conducted by the Special Inspector General for Reconstruction.

“The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected losses,” the audit said of the Pentagon’s handling of the $9.1 billion. Over 95 percent of the amount could not be accounted for by the auditors.

The Development Fund for Iraq was established shortly after the Coalition Provisional Authority took over governance of Iraq after the military invasion by the U.S. and its allies in the war on global terrorism.

According to the wire service Reuters, the DFI is charged with harnessing money from export sales of oil, petroleum products and natural gas, as well as frozen Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the U.N. oil for food program. The U.N. approved the creation of the fund, understanding that the money was to be used to benefit the people of Iraq.

However, lax oversight and weak controls at the Defense Department have resulted in most of the money not being available for the reconstruction of Iraq.

“Our selective review in DoD’s financial and management controls left it unable to properly account for $8.7-billion of the $9.1-billion in DFI funds it received for the reconstruction activities in Iraq,” the special inspector general’s report said.

Accountability

The Obama administration must deal with this situation aggressively. Heads must roll at the Pentagon. This isn’t just about mismanagement. The effect of the inappropriate uses and undetected spending is a disgruntled population in Iraq that no longer views the United States as a shining example of honesty and virtue.

Indeed, reports of wholesale misuse of American and Iraqi funds since the 2003 invasion have been constant and, in some instances, confirmed. There have been arrests of Americans and charges of favoritism in the awarding of contracts.

For instance, auditors working for the special inspector general discovered that $57.8 million was sent in “pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills” to the U.S. comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr., who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money.

Stein is among the American officials working in Iraq who was convicted of fraud and money-laundering.


Comments

1Jerry(498 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Being a rather staunch conservative, I have always had a great deal of respect and support for the US Military and National Intelligence Communities, recognizing their activities to be vital to the security of United States of America. I do not forget, however, that they are huge governmental bureaucracies, and are just as prone to grotesque mismanagement and internal abuses as any huge government agency. I have no quarrel with the recent media exposes regarding the inefficiency in our intelligence agencies, mismanagement of military secrets in Afghanistan, or this article regarding Pentagon mismanagement in Iraq. Considering the size of these bloated bureaucracies, I do not doubt that the basic information reported is true, and that problems like these need to be exposed and addressed.

The point that I find somewhat ironic, however, is that some of the same people who gleefully criticize the inefficiency of the national military and intelligence bureaucracies (because they always enjoy kicking these agencies) will turn right around and extol the virtues of turning our economic system, health care management, and energy strategies over to blind unthinking government bureaucracies that are even more colossal and prone to mismanagement.

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2ytown01(21 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

A staunch conservative that I am sure supported the war. A billion dollars later your happy they uncover these disturbing facts. AMAZING!!!!!!!!

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3Nunya(1356 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

This blurb is nonsense,..

There wasn't to be any management. There could be no true accountability in a deliberate fraud job fleece hatched plot.

It's doing exactly what it was designed to do. Which was to embezzled untold wealth out of the taxpayers and devised and delivered all on a pack of lies.

Now that there's an administration that's trying to construct and review accounting. They're merely sifting through the financial evidence of the biggest crime and hijack heist committed on our nation in history.

Along with being the ugly truth, It's irrefutable fact, the evidence is all there and anybody that tries to refute it is criminally insane.

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