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Friday, February 16, 2007

Why is there no outrage about this?
Posted by Jill | 7:01 AM
Why is it that when you hear about programs for the poor -- programs to help them pay heating bills, or health care, or even good -- you can hear the squawking on Venus; but when the government squanders $10 billion in Iraq -- and can't account for what happened to it, the same people who rail against "government spending" don't utter a peep?

The U.S. government is at risk of squandering significantly more money in an Iraq war and reconstruction effort that has already wasted or otherwise overcharged taxpayers billions of dollars, federal investigators said Thursday.

The three top auditors overseeing contract work in Iraq told a House committee of $10 billion in spending that was wasteful or poorly tracked. They pointed to numerous instances in which Defense and State department officials condoned or otherwise allowed poor accounting, repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for work shoddily or never done by U.S. contractors.

That problem could worsen, the Government Accountability Office said, given limited improvement so far by the Department of Defense even as the Bush administration prepares to boost the U.S. presence in Iraq.


According to their testimony, the investigators:

  • Found overpricing and waste in Iraq contracts amounting to $4.9 billion since the Defense Contract Audit Agency began its work in 2003, although some of that money has since been recovered. Another $5.1 billion in expenses were charged without proper documentation.

  • Urged the Pentagon to reconsider its growing reliance on outside contractors to run the nation's wars and reconstruction efforts. Layers of subcontractors, poor documentation and lack of strong contract management are rampant and promote waste even after the GAO first warned of problems 15 years ago.

  • Pointed to growing Iraqi sectarian violence as a significant factor behind wasted U.S. dollars. Iraqi officials must begin to take primary responsibility for reconstruction efforts, an uncertain goal given widespread corruption in Iraq and the local government's inability to fund projects.


Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2.7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services firm once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Why am I not surprised? This is over a quarter of the embezzlement -- and yes, let's call it embezzlement, because that's what it is -- of American taxpayer dollars attributable to one company, that company being one in which the Vice President still has a financial interest.

Larisa Alexandrovna reports the deferred compensation Dick Cheney has received from Halliburton while in office:

Deferred salary paid by Halliburton to Vice President Cheney in 2001: $205,298

Deferred salary paid by Halliburton to Vice President Cheney in 2002: $162,392

Deferred salary paid by Halliburton to Vice President Cheney in 2003: $178,437

Deferred salary paid by Halliburton to Vice President Cheney in 2004: $194,852

In the context of Cheney's overall net worth, this is a drop in the bucket. But when you figure that the Republicans hounded the Clintons for eight years over a 25-year-old land deal in which they LOST money, doesn't anyone find it just a wee bit unseemly that the Vice President is receiving six-figure payments annually from a company that has mishandled taxpayer money given it for Iraq reconstruction? In a sane world, this would be called war profiteering. But funny how we've heard neither John Stossel nor Brian Williams, famous for their reporting on how Americans' tax dollars are wasted, utter even a peep in protest.

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