Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Lies About Progress in Iraq

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who is head of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, released a new report yesterday. The conclusions detailed in Bowen’s report found that of 2,797 so-called completed projects in Iraq, (costing $5.8 billion) only 435 of them (costing $501 million) were in a condition to be handed over to the Iraqis. The remainder of the 2,362 projects, which had cost US taxpayers $5.2 billion were crumbling, inoperative and had been abandoned. The New York Times reported this morning, “The United States often promotes the number of rebuilding projects, like power plants and hospitals, that have been completed in Iraq, citing them as signs of progress in a nation otherwise fraught with violence and political stalemate. But closer examination by the inspector general’s office, headed by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., has found that a number of individual projects are crumbling, abandoned or otherwise inoperative only months after the United States declared that they had been successfully completed.” Rick Barton, co-director of the post-conflict reconstruction project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research institute in Washington was quoted in the NYT article, saying, “the lack of interest on the part of the Iraqis was the latest demonstration that they were not involved enough in its planning stages.” Barton’s remark and the title of the NYT article, “As US Rebuilds, Iraq Won’t Act on Finished Work” are misleading. The lede paragraph of the article is misleading as well: “Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.” That is hardly the problem. Many of the projects are either in no shape to be handed over in the first place, or they are handed over to Iraqis with no instructions from the builders as to how to operate them. The NYT said, “In one of the most recent cases, a $90 million project to overhaul two giant turbines at the Dora power plant in Baghdad failed after completion because employees at the plant did not know how to operate the turbines properly and the wrong fuel was used...Because the Iraqi government will not formally accept projects like the refurbished turbines, the United States is ‘finding someone at the local level to handle the project, handing them the keys and saying, “Operate and maintain it,”’ another official in the inspector general’s office said.” The actual truth of the matter is that Vice President Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton (and its subsidiaries), and Blackwater, USA have made a fortune SUPPOSEDLY rebuilding Iraq. But in fact, the rebuilding has never occurred or the construction work has been so shoddy that the buildings could not be used. PLUS, Blackwater, USA, which is the company that provided much of the manpower for the reconstruction work, switched their employees (who are first and foremost mercenaries not builders) over to fighting the war instead of rebuilding Iraq. And since the Iraq government and the Bush administration have fallen out of love, the Iraq government is being blamed for not operating projects that were not built at all, were inoperable, or were handed over with no instructions or Read-Mes. Sounds all too much like most of our experience with computers and computer programs, but we’re talking about life, death and billions of dollars in Iraq, not machines. I suspect that telling the truth has become an actionable offense in the Bush administration. That is the only thing that would explain why everyone, from the lowest of the low toady to cabinet heads are lying every time they utter a simple declarative sentence.

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