Ode to Natsios

Andrew Natsios, chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has resigned.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on one of Natsios’s most famous miscalculations:

TED KOPPEL: I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you’re not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

NATSIOS: Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US.

KOPPEL: You’re saying the, the top cost for the US taxpayer will be $1.7 billion. No more than that?

NATSIOS: For the reconstruction. And then there’s 700 million in the supplemental budget for humanitarian relief, which we don’t competitively bid ’cause it’s charities that get that money.

KOPPEL: I understand. But as far as reconstruction goes, the American taxpayer will not be hit for more than $1.7 billion no matter how long the process takes?

NATSIOS: That is our plan and that is our intention. And these figures, outlandish figures I’ve seen, I have to say, there’s a little bit of hoopla involved in this. [ABC, Nightline, 4/23/03]

See video of the exchange here.

A few months after the war began, Congress apporpriated $18.4 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq. Approximately $10.5 billion has already been obligated. The United Nations and World Bank have estimated $55 billion would be needed in rebuilding costs through 2007. And the CBO has estimated the reconstruction of Iraq could range anywhere from $50 to $100 billion.

President Bush, give that man a medal.