Waxman: Top Iraq Reconstruction Official Flown To Baghdad To Avoid Oversight Hearing

For the first time since the war began, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is holding aggressive oversight hearings into the billions in waste, fraud, and abuse of U.S. funds in Iraq.

On Jan. 10, when President Bush first made his plans for escalation public, he also announced plans to “appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.” The next day, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named career diplomat Timothy Carney to the position.

During this morning’s hearings, Waxman revealed that the State Department has blocked Carney from appearing at the hearing, despite the fact that Carney personally told Waxman he “was willing to come.” Moreover, the Bush administration has apparently rushed him to Baghdad despite claiming that the reason he could not appear at the hearing was because he “did not yet know what he was going to do in Iraq.”

WAXMAN: So I invited Ambassador Carney to testify today. When my staff talked to Ambassador Carney directly, he was cooperative and said he was willing to come. This the State Department refused.


Their first excuse was that he had not yet filled out his paperwork. Even though Secretary Rice publicly announced his critical new position, he apparently could not talk to Congress because he had not been officially hired.

Next, the State Department said Ambassador Carney could not come because he did not yet know what he was going to do in Iraq. This seemed odd, especially since the secretary had already announced that he was her new point person on Iraq reconstruction.

Then, just last week, we were informed that the department suddenly decided that Ambassador Carney was needed in Baghdad right away. So even though he was not officially hired and, according to the State Department, had no idea what he was going to do in Iraq, he was put on a plane to Baghdad this past Friday.

Waxman added that the State Department has “now told us that they may make him available to Congress in six months.”

UPDATE: Lane Hudson has a wrap-up of the hearing with several more videos.