Skip to comments.Inspector General: Much of Money for Iraq Reconstruction Wasted
Posted on 03/07/2013 6:46:57 AM PST by IbJensen
In his final report, released this month, on how $63 billion of American taxpayers money was spent in reconstructing Iraq after the end of the Iraq war, Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen asked two questions: What happened to the money? and What effect did it have? The next 185 pages of his report reviews where it went, how much was wasted, and what effect it had in restoring Iraqs infrastructure so that life there could return to some sort of normal.
The answer to the first question, what happened to the money? is that much of it was wasted. He cites a $40 million project to build a 3,600-bed prison in eastern Iraq that was abandoned three years after it started. Today, says Bowen, it sits in rubble, and Iraqi officials have no plans to finish it.
Subcontractors with construction firm Anham overcharged the U.S. government thousands of dollars for supplies, including $900 for a control switch valued at $7.05 and $80 for a piece of pipe that costs $1.41.
A $108 million wastewater treatment plant in Fallujah will take eight years longer than originally estimated to complete, and when it is done in 2014, it will serve just 9,000 homes. Its going to cost the Iraqi government another $87 million to extend the project to allow it to service the other 25,000 homes it was originally designed to serve.
Another $75 million project, to replace an oil and gas pipeline that was blown up during the invasion with a new one under the Tigris River, failed (as a geological study indicated that it might), and its taking another $29 million to repair the original one.
About a third of the $63 billion allocated for reconstruction was spent to train and equip Iraqi security forces, with precious little to show for it as attacks by rebel forces continue almost on a daily basis.
Bowen noted that the money was spent piecemeal, with little coordination among agencies or with Iraqi officials. There was little accountability or control, with the State Department supposed to oversee construction strategy but the Defense Department spending most of the money.
When the Iraq war ended officially on December 15, 2011, it was estimated to have cost American taxpayers more than $800 billion in direct expenses, and another estimated $1 trillion in additional healthcare costs for those wounded in the war. Joseph Stiglitz, co-author of The Three Trillion Dollar War, wrote:
The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions
Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.
Nor does Stiglitz or Bowen so much as mention the horrific human costs of the Iraq war in human suffering, loss of life, and loss of productivity by those innocents in Iraq who found themselves in harms way. The best estimate is that 4,487 American lives were lost and more than 32,000 American casualties were suffered during the war, while estimated violent deaths among Iraqi civilians exceeded 150,000.
In preparing to write his book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005, author Thomas E. Ricks spent hundreds of hours interviewing military officers on the ground in Iraq to conclude that the U.S. efforts in Iraq could have ended within days of the initial attack in March of 2003, but was greatly expanded in a helter-skelter fashion into a war that lasted twice as long as World War II. Said Ricks in an interview following release of his book:"It took the U.S. military four years to get the strategy right in Iraq by that time the American people and the Iraqi people both had lost a lot of patience not to mention precious lives and billions in wealth.
He added that in response to the expanded war, the Pentagon concocted the worst war plan in American history which extended the war unnecessarily and cost vastly more than originally estimated. As Hicks wrote for the New York Times in 2006,
President George W. Bushs decision to invade Iraq in 2003 ultimately may come to be seen as one of the most profligate actions in the history of American foreign policy. The consequences of his choice wont be clear for decades, but it already is abundantly apparent in mid-2006 that the U.S. government went to war in Iraq with scant solid international support and on the basis of incorrect information about weapons of mass destruction and a supposed nexus between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaedas terrorism and then occupied the country negligently.
Thousands of U.S. troops and an untold number of Iraqis have died. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, many of them squandered.
When President Obama presided over the National Day of Honor celebrating the ninth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, on March 19, 2012, Laurence Vance took exception, writing instead that it ought to have been called a Day of Dishonor: The president should have proclaimed [it] a National Day of Dishonor. There is nothing honorable about the War in Iraq. It was unconstitutional, immoral, unjust, senseless, unnecessary, aggressive, irresponsible, and destructive. Laurence, a student of history, should have included deliberately wasteful as well. Laurence should have remembered that expensive, wasteful wars are just part of a plan to bankrupt the United States. Mr. Robert Welch, in his presentation (which became The Blue Book of the John Birch Society) on December 9, 1958, outlined the key steps being taken to bring American to its knees, including step one:
Greatly expanded government spending, for missiles, for so-called defense generally, for foreign aid, for every conceivable means of getting rid of ever larger sums of American money as wastefully as possible
The discoveries by authors Hicks and Bowen should be no surprise to informed citizens who have long recognized that wars which are always expensive and wasteful are a key element in forcing a government into debt and eventual bankruptcy.
(Photos of Detroit, Michigan)
Or as I heard an Iraqi explain it once, “Ours is certainly not the most corrupt government on Earth. It’s merely the most corrupt ELECTED government on Earth.”
Why are we spending our money to rebuild their country? They have oil money, let them pay for it.
What a disaster!
I can’t wait for the IG’s report on how all of OUR stimulus money was spent...
We are upset about 63 billion with good reason...I am sure we would absolutey SH1T big globs if we ever find out whre all that money went.
[Good luck ever knowing...]
We broke their city digging around for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) but didn’t find any. Now we have to rebuild their nation with the money we borrow from China.
Doesn’t it make you proud to be an American?
WE live in a banana republic, but don’t have to pick any bananas. Even our tomatoes come from Mexico.
I think the military leaders screwed up Iraq, but I can at least understand why we went in there. Libya? I’m still waiting for the Democrats to explain why we went in there.
OMG your tagline had me giggling so hard the people from the next offices came over to see what was so funny!
While the waste of taxpayer money by the government is NOT news (sadly), it does serve the purpose of shining a light on a fire.
As taxpayers and voters we have an obligation to ourselves and our progeny to demand the overhaul of government spending practices. It has been suggested previously (not by me) that EVERY bill produced by the Congress be specifically targeted to a single item and be linked to a provision in the Constitution that is within the authority of the Congress. To that, I would add that every SPENDING bill also must meet that requirement and, further, that an independent, non-government organization be retained to oversee and audit how our money is spent.
Finally, to end the gleeful wasting of our money by the fools in Congress, it is imperative that strict term limits be imposed not only on the elected members of Congress, but also on the bureaucrats who remain from one administration to the next and are as much a part of the problem as the elected vote buyers!
Not so much military leaders on the ground there as the DoS, USAID and Paul Bremer calling the shots for nuance sake. This is what happens when our military leaders buys into nation building as a military and national security strategy. Blood and treasure spent, and for what? It's like pulling your hand out of a bucket of water. In this case, sewer water. But at least Bush got to serve turkey to the troops, so it's all good.
Napalm would definitely improve Detroit.
There are some hidden twists and turns in this situation.
For example, the US military got its hands on a lot of the stockpile of Saddam’s cash, and being very results oriented, they got good results by directly contracting with Iraqis. The Iraqis learned very quickly that US combat officers are not to be trifled with in business matters, either.
This enraged the Washington bureaucrats because it cut them out of the deal entirely, and they were neither able to skim, or waste, or divert funds to other stuff they wanted.
However, US taxpayer funds were a different matter, and the bureaucrats dove into those pools with their usual “launder and squander” attitude. By the time it made it to J. Paul Bremer and company in country, it had already been skimmed by 25-50%.
Then they piled endless rules on top of the legal use of the rest, seemingly designed to waste another 10-20% to insure that it wasn’t used for “bribes or corruption” (which are terrible sins if they are for foreigners), but for things like importing American products that could be bought for a tenth of the price when made in Iraq.
Then, and only then, was it given to the most corrupt, high officials in Iraq, not to the local level where it might have actually done something.
Hey, K, get back to work. I’m retired and I need your tax money! (And so does your president)
I liked your comments so much that I appropriated them and sent them to my Senator and Congressman.
Like, uh, duuuuuuh.
That last "150,000" figure has to be weighed against the 2 million Iraqis (ref. Bernard Kouchner's Saddam's Black Book) that died violently under Saddam in the pre-2013 invasion years. In an average year, average, 15,000 Iraqis have died violently since the US invasion (and many of them terrorists, not innocents, and the number is declining. albeit slowly). Before US/UN intervention, it was 80,000 Iraqis per year.
I'm not saying the argument about cost should not be argued, I just want to say that ALL the numbers should be included.
Bottom line, an innocent Iraqi is far less likely to meet a violent death now than an innocent was under Saddam.
You beat me to it....