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Monday, November 6, 2006

Republicans dump Iraq auditors

Incredibly, the already shoddy oversight of American spending in Iraq has been gutted by the GOP leadership. It happened in conference committee when the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction was surriptitiously terminated.

The New York Times reports that
"Tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of [Inspector General Stuart] Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip...."
"The provision was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of their Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference on the bill."
The NYT article by James Glanz appeared Friday, and has not seen the light of local media. Mirroring it was an article in the Washington Post which noted that although the Pentagon has spent about $250 billion in Iraq, "the Defense Department's inspector general's office has only two investigators and a half-dozen auditors working there. As recently as last year, it had none."

In other words, the Office of the Special Inspector General was the only significant oversight in town. Now it's gone.

Need any more proof of the connection between corporate corruption and the Republican power structure?

Thirteen out of fourteen projects by one contractor, Parsons Corp, had significant problems. One contract was to build 142 health clinics. "Only six have opened. Yet Parsons will not have to return any of its profit, nor is it likely to face any kind of formal punishment."

Here and elsewhere, contractors fall into a legal Twilight Zone where they can rip us off and place soldiers and civilians at risk with little fear of retribution. The Post reports that a 2000 law that was intended to hold contractors responsible for crimes in war zones "has never been tested." Several civil cases, including one where Halliburton truck drivers charged that the company knowingly sent them into a raging battle, have been thrown out because, as the judge ruled, the Army, not Halliburton, is ultimately in charge in wartime.