Skip to comments.Senators Denounce U.S. on Iraq Rebuilding
Posted on 09/15/2004 5:02:37 PM PDT by TexKat
WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday denounced the Bush administration's slow progress in rebuilding Iraq, saying the risks of failure are great if it doesn't act with greater urgency.
"It's beyond pitiful, it's beyond embarrassing, it's now in the zone of dangerous," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., referring to figures showing only about 6 percent of the reconstruction money approved by Congress last year has been spent.
Foreign Relations Committee members vented their frustrations at a hearing where the State Department explained its request to divert $3.46 billion in reconstruction funds to security and economic development. The money was part of the $18.4 billion approved by Congress last year mostly for public works projects.
The request comes as heavy fighting continues between U.S.-led forces and a variety of Iraqi insurgents, endangering prospects for elections slated for January.
"We know that the provision of adequate security up front is requisite to rapid progress on all other fronts," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ron Schlicher.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said circumstances in Iraq have changed since last year. "It's important that you have some flexibility."
But Hagel said the shift in funds "does not add up in my opinion to a pretty picture, to a picture that shows that we're winning. But it does add up to this: an acknowledgment that we are in deep trouble."
Hagel, Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and other committee members have long argued even before the war that administration plans for rebuilding Iraq were inadequate and based on overly optimistic assumptions that Americans would be greeted as liberators.
But the criticism from the panel's top Republicans had an extra sting coming less than seven weeks before the presidential election in which President Bush's handling of the war is a top issue.
"Our committee heard blindly optimistic people from the administration prior to the war and people outside the administration what I call the 'dancing in the street crowd,' that we just simply will be greeted with open arms," Lugar said. "The nonsense of all of that is apparent. The lack of planning is apparent."
He said the need to shift the reconstruction funds was clear in July, but the administration was slow to make the request.
"This is an extraordinary, ineffective administrative procedure. It is exasperating from anybody looking at this from any vantage point," he said.
State Department officials stressed areas of progress in Iraq since the United States turned over political control of Iraq to an interim government on June 28. They cited advances in generating electricity, producing oil and creating jobs.
Schlicher said the department hopes to create more than 800,000 short- and long-term jobs over two years, saying, "When Iraqis have hope for the future and real opportunity, they will reject those who advocate violence."
Congress approved the $18.4 billion in November as part of an $87 billion package mostly for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time, administration officials said the reconstruction money was just as important as the military funds. But only $1.14 billion had been spent as of Sept. 8.
"It's incompetence, from my perspective, looking at this," said the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware.
In separate action Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to shift $150 million from the $18.4 billion to buttress U.S. efforts to help victims of violence and famine in the Darfur region of Sudan and nearby areas. The transfer was approved by voice vote with bipartisan support.
Under the State Department's proposal for the $3.46 billion, spending for police, border patrols and other security measures would be boosted by $1.8 billion to a total of $5 billion. There would be 45,000 more police, 16,000 more border patrol guards and 20 additional National Guard battalions.
Water and sewer programs which would shrink from more than $4.2 billion to more than $1.9 billion, and electricity funding would be reduced by more than $1 billion from $5.47 billion.
Hagel compared the U.S. spending to other nations' delays in providing debt relief to Iraq and following through on pledges for economic aid. Considering those issues along with the high number of U.S. casualties, Hagel said there should be no "grand illusions, kidding ourselves about who's carrying the burden here, big time big time. It's the United States."
On the Net:
Senate Foreign Relations Committee: http://www.foreign.senate.gov
Well the administration better put the boots to the contractors.
Here it comes, the criticism against Hagel, but, he's right.
Iraq can still be turned around, but up till now, this thing has been a disaster.
Jihadists are in firm control of several cities, which is not a good thing.
lazy contractors, how dare they not build when security is so great and the Iraqi people are hungry for jobs. Hagel is an idiot.
Did you know Chuck Hagel was in Vietnam, too?
I'd vote for Hillary before that disloyal RINO.
Can't the Admin let some RFQs out, or did they forget how to spend money.
Hagel and Lugar, perfect together. Two liars.
The bulk of the 18 billion was hijacked to pay for military operatons that were out of budget about two months ago. If it hadn't happened we would have run out of war money. The $25 billion supplemental passed in August helped get us to the end of the fiscal year. But as it is, the contracts were held up (not by faceless bureaucrats, but by DoD's budget problems) and so now they are trying to paste over the cracks in the walls by officially redirecting money now that congress is in session, that they already took. Bottomline is that most of the Iraqi reconstruction money will never reach the Iraqis.
It's not as if "hearts and minds" was working in the Sunni Triangle in any case, now was it ?
Hagel also thinks he's a future presidential candidate, which is why he's always raggin' on Bush.
To hell with both of them.
So what they say has no validity?
Iraq is going well?
As well as can be expected. I'm sick and tired of Republicans like Hagel shiling for the Democrat Party.
Not bad. More dead jihadists every day. Elections around the corner. The islamofascists will be in rare form until after the elections.
By the way, where are all those solutions that Hagel has for a seamless reconstruction and democratising of Iraq?
As well as can be expected?
That's quite a low expectation.
Speaking the truth doesn't automatically make one a shill for the Dems.
Dissent within ones own ranks is a good thing. Groupthink is a bad thing.
Iraq has rapidly turned into a disaster, and someone has to speak up about it, someone other than the usual communist.
Hagel? Who is Hagel?
I don't know what his solutions are, and if he has any, let him spell them out.
A war of attrition against the Jihadists is a losing proposition.
Jihadists are firmly in control of several large cities, which is not too good.
Chuck Hagel (R-France)
If by some fluke he's the Republican nomiee in '08, I am writing in Zell Miller.
Hardly. Things are tough, security-wise, which is why we don't need Chuck Hagel griping about rebuilding the country, especially during a campaign season.
But, Hagel and McCain think their military service give them the right to be free lancers.