After the 2003 Iraq invasion, Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer created a major anti-corruption ministry in Iraq, the Public Integrity Commission (CPI). Last October, former CPI commissioner Judge Radhi al-Radhi, who was appointed by Bremer and whose work has been praised by top U.S. officials, told Congress about the “rampant” corruption in Iraqi ministries that had cost Iraq as much as $18 billion.
Radhi’s gripping account detailed how Prime Minister Maliki tried to subvert his commission and how nearly four dozen of his staff members were killed. Subsequently, he was forced to seek asylum in the United States.
But today, Radhi is living as an undocumented immigrant in Virginia. In a Democratic Policy Committee hearing yesterday, former State Department official James Mattil told Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) that Radhi has no “official status” in the U.S. Currently, only a group of Quakers and Arthur Brennan, the former head of the department’s Office of Accountability and Transparency, are funding Radhi, he said:
DORGAN: And where is Judge al-Radhi at the moment?
MATTIL: Living in an apartment in Springfield, maybe for the rest of the month if they can get it worked out that somebody is going to pay for it. But he’s not allowed to work. He has no official status, so he’s not — he’s undocumented — I don’t know what he is. I mean, he’s lost. He’s a person without a country.
The State Department turned against Radhi, according to Mattil and Brennan. They “said a senior State Department official had ordered agency employees not to give al Radhi references or contact him” about the asylum. Radhi is “destitute” in his current situation, they noted.
An infuriated Dorgan slammed the administration’s neglect of an ally whose work it didn’t like. “This is about betrayal,” Dorgan declared. “[O]ur government turned against him. Our State Department and our embassy pulled the rug out from under him. … [W]e’re going to ask the State Department what in the hell are they thinking.”
The American asylum program for Iraqis who have aided U.S. forces in Iraq has “fallen far short of demand,” as the Washington Post noted in January. Even Iraq’s top anti-corruption official, who has “praised the U.S. invasion of Iraq,” is subject to complete abandonment.