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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 06:30 AM
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Operation kickback?

Report alleges 20 percent of Iraq reconstruction costs lost to corruption.

by Tom Regan |

Iraq's private companies routinely pay bribes to get reconstruction contracts often to Iraqi officials but sometimes to employees of US contractors. That's one of the allegations that has been made by a special investigation undertaken by public radio's Marketplace and the Center for Investigative Reporting, and funded by The Economist magazine. The result, according to experts monitoring the situation, is almost 20 percent of the billions of American taxpayers dollars being spent to rebuild Iraq is being lost to corruption.

Meanwhile, the report also documents the failure of the US government to effectively oversee expenditures in a reconstruction effort that the reports says costs 10 times more per capita than the Marshall Plan (the US-led effort to rebuilt Germany after WWII).

Some of the problems uncovered by Marketplace correspondent Adam Davidson in Iraq include:

Officials at Iraq's Central Bank say senior Iraqi Ministry officials regularly pocket reconstruction money.

Every Iraqi ministry is touched by corruption, the report alleges. The health department sells medical supplies on the black market, other ministries sell valuable equipment, while housing officials take money to allocate homes to the highest briber.


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Quetzal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 06:35 AM
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1. Leave it to the Brits and foreign press
to do the investigative work.
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fishnfla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 06:37 AM
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2. I heard bits and pieces of this report last night
it demonstrates just how deep the quagmire is. the whole situation is a clusterf#$k
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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 06:42 AM
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3. excellent...and bookmarked
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 06:45 AM
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4. Beautiful article. The headline doesn't do it justice!
Translators who work for Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) or US contractors are promising work to other Iraqis on contracts, but want as much as a 50 percent cut of any deal.

In Washington, congressional initiatives that would have sent a strong anti-corruption signal to contractors in Iraq were derailed by the House Republican leadership and the White House. These included amendments to the Iraq appropriations bill last fall that would have criminalized war profiteering and required ongoing audits by the General Accounting Office of contracts over $25 million. "The fact were made and defeated signaled, 'We don't agree oversight is necessary,'" says Jeffrey Jones, former head of the Defense Energy Support Center, in charge of purchasing fuel for the Pentagon. Jones watched as gasoline bills doubled when part of his job was outsourced to Halliburton. "So, it's laissez faire. That's the message that was sent."
Sure enough, the administration was unprepared for predictable security problems in Iraq, but moved quickly in violation of international law to impose its economic vision. Last month Jay Garner, the first US administrator of Iraq, told the BBC that he was sacked in part because he wanted to hold quick elections. His superiors wanted to privatize Iraqi industries first as part of a plan that, according to Mr. Garner, was drawn up in late 2001.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that the head of the CPA, Paul Bremer, is asking that the CPA be exempt from some of the rules that Washington did impose to create transparency with the awarding of contracts in Iraq. Mr. Bremer says the recent escalating violence in Iraq has made the move necessary, because the US faces pressure to show its making progress in Iraq before the June 30 date for transfer of authority to Iraqis.

It would be lovely to see ANY of our potentially adequate reporters jump into any part of this story, wouldn't it, if it's not putting them out too much.

Too bad USA Today's massively bogus Jack Kelley won't be around to do some more of his Pulitzer-prize level reporting, yeah, you bet.
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lapfog_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 06:51 AM
Response to Original message
5. Its very common

in that part of the world. Expected.

The crime is in the employees of US companies accepting bribes
or kickbacks. Otherwise, it's the cost of doing business there.

We should employ a *lot* more Iraqis and Iraqi firms in the rebuilding
of their nation. They are well educated and highly skilled, yet we
are treating them like children. Unemployment while seeing imported
war profiteers making outrageous (to them) sums doing jobs that they
are, in fact, qualified to do has done much to fuel the resentment
of the occupying forces.
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mulethree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 11:19 AM
Response to Original message
6. kick
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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 11:40 AM
Response to Original message
7. I'd guess 20% is a lowball estimate.
Who's Chaos is this anyway?

What's important to bear in mind here is that the U.S. can increase such chaos not just through genuine incompetence but through purposeful incompetence -- and it's normally impossible for an outsider to tell which is which. I could, for instance, feel the impact of purposeful incompetence in the conversation I had with an Iraqi architect who worked in Falluja. Having experienced the frustration of dealing with the bureaucrats inside the Green Zone and the corrupt Iraqis who increasingly surround them, he explained to me that "no honest Iraqi contractor will touch the CPA." In the early months of the occupation, he had tried to offer his help to the CPA, but despite a public pretense of accountability -- of giving all comers a chance to profit from the rebuilding of the country -- his bids, though lower than those of foreign bidders, were either ignored or someone would show up weeks later offering to help him "cement a deal" only after thousands of dollars passed under the table.

The officials of the CPA, however, were never intent on "rebuilding" Iraq in the normal sense -- not with Iraqis anyway. What they were intent on was cracking what was left of the Iraqi economy open and handing its spoils to crony capitalists and giant corporate entities allied to them. And this is why we can't simply assume, as one recent newspaper article put it, that the hemorrhaging of billions of dollars in Iraq is "yet more proof of the administration's inadequate preparation for the war, and its failure to fathom what awaited it in Iraq." Such a view misunderstands why, for example, Pentagon Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and other senior administration officials dismissed pre-war warnings that the civil rebuilding of Iraq would cost between $60 billion and $150 billion. They certainly didn't do so because they thought it could be done cheaper.

In fact the $100 billion-plus the U.S. is slated to spend by the end of next year on infrastructure and civilian expenses -- we can only guess how much of that will go directly and indirectly to Halliburton and Bechtel and not to Iraqis -- along with the fraud, bribery, theft and waste that are literally written into budgets under the heading of "special clauses," when combined with the $250 billion in military-related costs (all those depleted uranium bullets and high-tech napalm aren't cheap) plunked down for the invasion and military occupation, together constitute a major reason why we went to war in the first place. Looked at from a certain perspective, all of this falls under the category of planned or sponsored chaos.
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goforit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
8. I'm sure it's higher than20%........We're being robbed in broad daylight!
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