Thursday, March 07, 2013

Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience

Hard lessons and opening the window on blatant war profiteering, blood money and just a small part of, directed right from the top on down through the supply chain of the use of the countries treasury monies, or in these cases the countries rapidly growing debt!

Following up on the earlier post of the billions wasted in so called reconstruction U.S. treasury funds in Iraq an interview with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction: Stuart Bowen aired the night of the reports coming out public on the PBS News Hour.

AIR DATE: March 6, 2013 Report Finds U.S. Failed to Consult Iraq's Needs in Rebuilding
click on photo to visit report site

SUMMARY: Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen wrapped up a review of nine years' worth of Iraq rebuilding projects with a report that cites massive waste of resources and life. Judy Woodruff talks to Bowen about where the money went and what the U.S. government must learn for the future. transcript>>>

Watch Report Finds U.S. Failed to Consult Iraq's Rebuilding Needs on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Here's a few clips from the discussion transcript

JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you have any idea then of the magnitude of what you were going to be doing?

STUART BOWEN: Well, the first sign of it was my first trip to Iraq in February of 2004, when I was walking the halls of the Republican Palace behind two people, and one turned to the other and said, we can't do that anymore. There's a new inspector general here. That sent me a signal that the challenges before me were quite substantial.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as we said, $60 billion dollars, and you write it's the largest relief and reconstruction effort for one country in U.S. history.

What happened to the money?


JUDY WOODRUFF: What about abuse? We heard the quote from Sen. Susan Collins.

She said the level of waste, fraud, and abuse was she said appalling. So, in terms of fraud -- you have talked about the waste. What about the level of fraud?

STUART BOWEN: We have achieved 82 convictions of U.S. contractors and government personnel who committed crimes in Iraq and recovered over $191 million dollars from those cases.

We have 60-plus ongoing cases which we will continue to pursue through the balance of this fiscal year, and I expect at least 20 more convictions and the recovery of at least $100 million dollars.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Was that -- is that par for the course when that much money is being spent, or was there something particular to Iraq?

STUART BOWEN: There was something particular to Iraq, Judy.

The lack of controls at the outset created what some -- what one person called a free fraud zone in Iraq. And the Bloom/Stein conspiracy, we broke in Hillah, Babylon in 2004, convicted a colonel, three lieutenant colonels. Philip Bloom, the contractor, who has had a previous felony conviction, and Robert Stein, the comptroller for the south-central region.

JUDY WOODRUFF: These were Americans.

STUART BOWEN: Yes, essentially, the comptroller for the south-central region had a previous felony conviction. This is a man who had control over hundreds of millions of dollars.

And he told me when we interviewed him a few years ago that, hey, if there had been a powerful, robust oversight presence on the ground, that the crimes that they engaged in wouldn't have happened. read more or watch discussion>>>

And not a peep about from one of the main rubber stamping senate congressional reps, who were the only ones meeting the administration at that time and readily giving out no bid private contractor contracts, only a short time back:

That 'surge', a perfect opportunity to cover up what was already going on and ability to add more to the reconstruction kitty flowing in?

While the military was sent into and fighting in an occupation that was easily recruiting those occupied to take up arms and fight back, as well as recruiting others in the region to join the fight in Afghanistan the main missions of which were abandoned with the drumbeats prior to invading Iraq, a very few of them, and especially the civilian private contractors, were more worried about how to and how much they could scam from the billions flowing into the country, even with at least one already having a past felony conviction. Yet hired to oversea a part, in multi millions, of those billions being shipped in in big blocks of hard cash, not bank transfers, but actual cash on shipping pallets and neatly shrink-wrapped!

Note to remember: This corruption wasn't only going on as to the billions in reconstruction monies in Iraq, billions more were made off the no bid contracts and the investments in, and still is, the companies as the usual wall street corruption went into super speed during this period in many area's of bottom line profit growth as corporate compensation grew at super speed as well!

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