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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Accountability on Iraq

In 1941, as the United States was on the verge of entering World War II, Sen. Harry S. Truman launched an investigation into reports of widespread waste, corruption and mismanagement in the nascent war effort. Over the next three years, the Truman Committee held hundreds of public hearings, visited military bases across the country, and ended up saving taxpayers $15 billion dollars. His efforts also saved countless lives by rooting out contractors using inferior materials and producing shoddy equipment.

We sure could use "Give 'em Hell, Harry" today -- although, given the epidemic of corruption infecting the reconstruction of Iraq, even he would have his work cut out for him.

By even the most charitable standard, the effort to rebuild Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. A cornucopia of waste, fraud, ineptitude, cronyism, secret no-bid contracts, and profiteering cloaked in patriotism. There is the $9 billion the U.S.-led occupation government can't account for; the over 70 investigations into potential criminal cases involving U.S.-funded projects; the ongoing billing disputes with Halliburton, which despite having repeatedly ripped off taxpayers, continues to receive billion-dollar contracts; the $20 billion in Iraqi oil money kept track of by a single accountant; the study showing that up to 30 percent of reconstruction funds are being lost to fraud and corporate malfeasance. Whether you are passionately in favor of the war or passionately against it, don't you want to know exactly where our money is going and how we can stop the corruption?

On top of the corruption is the fact that, because so little of the $24 billion in taxpayer money that Congress has earmarked for reconstruction is reaching ordinary Iraqis, two years after we cakewalked over Saddam, the Iraqi people are still facing massive food shortages, energy shortages, and woefully inadequate water and sewage systems. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, only 27 cents of every dollar spent on rebuilding Iraq has gone to actually improving the lives of its people, with the rest going to security, waste, overhead and fattening the bottom line of big U.S. corporations.

Read It:

Nothing to see here...Move along folks.

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