Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Congressional Republicans Bungle Iraq Oversight

One of the key jobs of Congress is to make sure that money handled by our government is spent well. This requires oversight. When there is evidence of bungling or corruption, there are supposed to be investigations. The Bush Administration, from our first day in Iraq, has gotten a free ride from a Republican Congress that even to this day continues to sit on its hands. Without explaining where all the money went, Bush is abandoning Iraq reconstruction and turning over a long unfinished list to the Iraqis; here's the story from Andy Mosher and Griff Witte of The Washington Post:
A flailing Iraq reconstruction effort that has been dominated for more than three years by U.S. dollars and companies is being transferred to Iraqis, leaving them the challenge of completing a long list of projects left unfinished by the Americans.

While the handover is occurring gradually, it comes as U.S. money dwindles and American officials face a Sept. 30 deadline for choosing which projects to fund with the remaining $2 billion of the $21 billion rebuilding program. More than 500 planned projects have not been started, and the United States lacks a coherent plan for transferring authority to Iraqi control, a report released Tuesday concludes.


As the handoff proceeds, there are questions about exactly what it is the Iraqis will inherit and how a government plagued by corruption can restore confidence in a rebuilding program that has been dogged by corruption allegations from the start.

Bowen's report makes clear that while the rebuilding campaign has achieved some successes, hundreds of jobs remain incomplete and many key projects hang in limbo.


The reconstruction program, though, is also littered with notable failures. A project to create more than 140 primary health-care centers resulted in 20 so far. Baghdad residents still have about eight hours of electricity per day, less than they did before the war, even as power supplies improve in other parts of the country. And a crucial oil pipeline that could have brought the fledgling Iraqi government nearly $15 billion in badly needed revenue remains more than two years behind schedule.

Under Bush, a great deal of money has disappeared without a trace and without much to show for it. Never has so much been spent and so little achieved.

And Congress not only remains incurious, but we find money for things like Homeland Security going to the strangest places, and a $290 million bridge going to nowhere and money from Hurricane Katrina going everywhere but to the victims of the hurricane and money going into the pockets of Republican lobbyists and the pockets of their friends.

The American people deserve some answers. Here's a question: Republicans sure do a lot for their wealthy and well-connected friends; with rising debts as far as the eye can see, what good does such a crooked system do for the rest of America?


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