can’t see the forest

Corruption 101: Iraq Audits-Be-Gone

FT.com (Financial Times) reported via MSNBC on 10/26 (note the name in bold):

A Halliburton subsidiary that has been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts in Iraq has been accused by an independent watchdog of “abuse” of government regulations that protect US taxpayers.

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, said in an interim audit released on Thursday that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) had, in effect, routinely inappropriately hidden data about one of its contracts from public scrutiny by marking the information as “proprietary.”

…It is unclear how much the US military has paid for the contract, but one estimate put the figure at $7 billion last year.

Okay. Breathe slowly, digest. Now take a look at this, from the BBC, on 11/3. Again, note the name in bold:

A US government agency that has exposed corruption in Iraqi reconstruction projects will close in 2007.

Washington lawmakers have reacted with shock at the discovery that an obscure clause in a military spending bill will terminate the work of the auditor.

The Office of the Special Inspector General of Iraq Reconstruction has embarrassed the US administration with its reports on corrupt practices.

Critics of the government claim this is what lies behind its sudden closure.

Under the direction of Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen, the Office employs 55 auditors and inspectors.

This is the same office which uncovered the story of the 14,000 missing weapons the Pentagon let slip into the hands of insurgents. The same office that reported on gross fiscal and operational mismanagement in 2005. Senator Susan Collins just can’t figure out how this little clause wormed its way into the spending bill. But, boy, does it solve a lot of problems for Dick Cheney and the brass.

The Pentagon is planning to take over at least some of the audit operations performed by the Office of the Special Inspector.

This is called fascism. The upcoming Congressional election next Tuesday will be among the most critical in US history, to be sure. I am looking forward to it. But no amount of lever-pulling will fix this kind of *#&@$.

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