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Iraq Watchdog Looks Back on Years of Reconstruction Waste

Posted on Feb 2, 2009
U.S. Navy / Mark H. Overstreet

He’s back: Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, has released a new volume in his series of blood-boiling reports. Looking back on his five years as a watchdog, Bowen laments the widespread waste of taxpayer funds in Iraq, and warns that the same mistakes are being made in Afghanistan.


On his first trip to Iraq, he says in the report, he observed large quantities of cash moving out of the office of the comptroller for the Coalition Provisional Authority, after which he overheard someone say: “We can’t do that anymore. There is a new inspector general here.”

Mr Bowen is concerned that the mistakes made in Iraq are being repeated in Afghanistan.

“It’s too late to do the structural part and make it quickly applicable to Afghanistan,” he told the Washington Post.

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By Big B, February 3, 2009 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

But isn’t everything in Iraq just peachy now? the streets are lined with gold, and everyone is arm and arm singing kum-by-ah.

Oh, that’s right, the military bases are completed, lining the pipline from the Kurdish north to Basra on the bay. Our troops no longer patrol the streets. The oil is flowing, and we no longer give a shit about the internal problems of this bombed out burg. Ten miles from either side of the pipeline, the land is ruled by warlords that the pentagon paid to stop shooting at us, in exchange for a small region of the nation, and the right to maintain their own militia, just in case they want to scuffle with the folks next door. There is no electricity outside Baghdad most of the time.

But hey, the oil is flowing, and american soldiers have over 50 new military bases to hide in until the oil runs dry in 20 or 30 years. And in 20 or 30 years, Iraq still won’t be rebuilt.

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By Spiritgirl, February 3, 2009 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment
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Some of us saw this coming!  The new President notwithstanding - I think we should stop, just stop!  Stop in Iraq, stop in Afghanistan, stop bleeding public money to private coffers, stop the tremendous “Defense” budget (so many weapons yet none of them work), stop supplementing Agri-business, stop the foreclosures, stop the graft and greed also called pay-to-play, aka Congress!  Yes, I know there are good and decent Congresspeople!  But you know what I want:  I WANT A CONGRESSPERSON WITH REAL MORAL INTEGRITY AND A SPINE!!!

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By felicity, February 3, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Whether it’s the Street, the world of finance, Iraq, torture, the three branches of government…it’s absolutely RIDICULOUS that what we out here have known for ages (the ineptness, corruption, crimes and stupidity rampant in the power structures) become sudden revelations to people who were hired in the first place TO know - not AFTERWARDS when the damage has been done, but WHILE it’s being done and hopefully BEFORE it can be done.

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By eileen fleming, February 3, 2009 at 7:39 am Link to this comment

I have been lamenting US lack of compassion over US bombing Baghdad ever since that first night of violence, and I wrote this reflection shortly after:

“How do I explain concrete walls to little children, and why men choose violence? How do you explain irrational adult behavior to little ones? Why do men choose hatred, injury, discord, error, and darkness to love, pardon, unity, truth, and light? Why is that? Christ have mercy on us all!”

I am an old crone now, but I once was your age.

I remember, when I was seven years old, I saw a picture in the newspaper of a little naked girl running in terror from a mushroom cloud, and I wondered, why did that girl have to run for her life in her hometown, when in mine, everyone was safe and happy?

That girl in the picture wasn’t safe, and she was not happy. I wondered about her, and me, and my hometown, and America.

I am an old crone now and I still wonder…

When images from Vietnam were on the TV screen, I was a mom of three and seven months pregnant with twins. I went into early labor on that day; a shot rang out in my hometown, and America’s prophet bled on the concrete of Memphis.

Terese sighed, flipped to a clean page, and wondered, “I am getting nowhere. I want to explain why there is war to children, but I don’t know how to go about it.”


She chewed the end of her gel pen and stared into the pistil and stamen of a white and violet day lily that grew next to the gazebo. A gunfire round of riveting from the redheaded woodpecker above her head brought Terese back to her empty page, and she sighed, “Christ, have mercy on me. What’s the deal with me? How could I think I could write a story to explain war to children, when I don’t understand why war has to be?”


She bit her lip and sighed a few more times, before putting the gel pen back to the paper. She lit up like a Christmas tree as the words flew from her fingers:


Have you heard the one about Dorothy and her cats?


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By Jim Yell, February 3, 2009 at 7:16 am Link to this comment
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Maybe what we should do is what the Weimar Republic did during the inflationary times of Germany. They created a new Mark that was worth several “old” Marks and demanded that the “old” Marks would be traded in and in anycase would no longer be legal tender. It not only helped cap inflation it brought hoarded money back into circulation.

In this case it would be hoped that all the cash paid out on the sly would become accountable. Might not work but it might be worth a try just to hear the mighty cry.

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