Senate Protects Bribing Contractors in Iraq
Just two weeks after American contractor Philip Bloom was convicted of giving more than $2 million in cash, cars, jewelry, alcohol and sexual favors from women at his villa in Baghdad to U.S. officials in exchange for their help in securing reconstruction contracts for his companies, the Senate has quietly passed a provision shielding reconstruction spending from U.S. auditors. This sends a nice message to all the other Blooms in Iraq. Rip off the American taxpayer. Screw the Iraqi people. We'll protect you:
"The Senate last week approved $109 billion in additional spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $1.5 billion in added Iraq reconstruction money," the Wall Street Journal begins in a page four story Wednesday. "The administration has spent $20.9 billion to reconstruct Iraq's infrastructure and modernize its oil industry, but the effort hasn't restored the country's electricity output, water supply or sewage capabilities to prewar levels."
Writes the Journal: "A behind-the-scenes battle among legislators has made a crucial distinction between the new reconstruction money and that already spent: The new funds won't be overseen by the government watchdog charged with curbing the mismanagement that has overshadowed the reconstruction."
"Special inspector general, Stuart Bowen, who has 55 auditors on the ground in Iraq, will be barred from overseeing how the new money is spent," the Journal adds. "Instead, the funds will be overseen by the State Department's inspector general office, which has a much smaller staff in Iraq and warned in testimony to Congress in the fall that it lacked the resources to continue oversight activities in Iraq."