Tuesday, February 28, 2006

HAVEN'T WE KNOWN THIS ALREADY for, like, forever? Still, when the Bush-friendly Washington Times reports that the Bush administration had no "comprehensive plan" for rebuilding Iraq post-invasion, you have to sit up and take notice.

"There was insufficient systematic planning for human capital management in Iraq before and during the U.S.-directed stabilization and reconstruction operations," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, in a new "lessons learned" report released yesterday. "The practical limitations ensuing from this shortfall adversely affected reconstruction in post-war Iraq."

In English, that means they didn't plan for having enough people to do the job.

The Pentagon's initial plans for reconstruction crumbled when it encountered an unexpected foreign and domestic insurgency that looted the country, sabotaged electric and water service, and killed hundreds of Americans and Iraqis in 2003 after the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein.

The administration reacted by quickly establishing the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), directed by L. Paul Bremer, and pumped billions of dollars of United Nations-held oil cash into Baghdad.

But, Mr. Bowen concluded in a report focusing on the CPA's staffing, "[t]he unanticipated post-war collapse of virtually all Iraqi governing structures, substantially hindered coalition efforts to develop and rapidly execute an effective reconstruction program."

So the Bush administration used Iraq's oil money, held in a special U.N. fund as part of the sanctions imposed against Iraq before Saddam Hussein was overthrown, to pay for the economic catastrophe resulting from the insurgency and the failure of the Bush administration to plan for it.

BUT: Most of that money never even got to the projects it was supposed to fund, because of widespread fraud:

Mr. Bowen's investigators found significant fraud in the disbursement of millions of DFI dollars that the CPA failed to safeguard. The new Iraqi government controls the fund and says that as much as $1 billion alone was stolen by Iraqis inside the Defense Ministry. Mr. Bowen has not found significant fraud in the administering of the U.S. funds, he has said.

I'm not sure I understand how that last sentence fits in with $1 billion stolen by the new Iraqi government.

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