JANUARY 31, 2007
The wave of fraud continues to plague Iraq reconstruction aid with tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars wasted on weapons and sophisticated communication equipment that cannot be accounted for and an unused police housing camp with an Olympic-sized pool and lavish trailers.
The widespread corruption is so rampant that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened nearly 80 criminal probes involving charges of bribery and kickbacks among independent contractors and the U.S. officials who seal the deals with them.
A quarterly audit conducted by the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction exposes the severity of the waste, estimated to have reached $300 million, and the weak response from high-ranking government officials that claim they are working to gain control of the chaotic situation. So far, the United States has spent $21 billion on Iraq reconstruction efforts and the president is pressing Congress to approve an additional $1.2 billion.
But the effort has for years been plagued by costly problems and the inspector general, created by Congress in 2004 to oversee the use and potential misuse of reconstruction funds, has issued various damaging reports documenting the waste.
Among the scathing examples in the latest audit’s 579-page report, is a $43.8 million payment to a contractor for a fancy residential police training camp outside of Baghdad’s Adnan Palace that has yet to be used. Another features $36.4 million for weapons – including armored vehicles, body armor and communications equipment – that cannot be accounted for. Additionally, the U.S. government overpaid the contractor $18 million.
The informative publication, which has been presented to Congress, includes illustrations, maps and charts detailing where American taxpayer dollars are being used in the war torn country. It lists all the Iraq reconstruction projects, breaks down their cost and how many U.S. dollars have been allocated.
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