In an AP interview yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke highly of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, stating, “We’ve done a lot of work to get these [reconstruction] structures right, and I think they finally are” — a day after a scathing government report detailed massive waste and poor planning in U.S. reconstruction efforts. When asked about the abuse, Rice claimed that U.S. dollars have emerged unscathed:
Q: But the cost in terms of lives and in terms of the money and the abuse of money — (inaudible) was money wasted, there was money that was siphoned off, corruption and that kind of thing, you’re —
RICE: Not of American money. Not American money. I don’t think that you will find that anybody is arguing that there was corruption in the American programs.
Throughout the U.S. occupation of Iraq, billions in tax dollars have been lost due to corruption and incompetence. Some of the most egregious losses have been via “American programs”:
— The Coalition Provisional Authority delivered 363 tons of cash on an airplane, totaling $12 billion, to Iraq “without assurance the monies were properly used or accounted for.”
— The State Dept spent $36.4 million dollars on weapons and equipment that could not be accounted for because “invoices were vague and there was no backup documentation”.
— Top contractor KBR came under fire last year from government investigators for overpricing its contract by $2 billion, which, for example, included overstating labor costs by 51 percent.
The use of private contractors, a major source of the corruption, has skyrocketed under Bush. The government has spent $85 billion on contracts in Iraq and other countries in the first four years of the war. “Taxpayers have been bled dry with massive misuse of public dollars,” observed Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who has spearheaded investigations into waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq.
Thus far, some $50 billion in taxpayer dollars have been spent on the reconstruction of Iraq, which anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International listed as the third-most corrupt nation in the world.