Friday, December 14, 2007

Reconstruction in Iraq: It Could be Worse

So far, this is all "alleged," since the FBI investigation is still in process.
  • Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR) Stuart Bowen may have inspected his employees' office emails
  • The FBI is inspecting "several issues of possible fraud and abuse" - who's being defrauded and abused isn't clear yet
  • SIGIR Bowen and his deputy, Ginger Cruz, may have used taxes from Americans to pay for their legal defense, starting in 2006
  • The FBI may sniff out whether SIGIR Bowen snookered an earlier investigation into just how much a pricey book about Stuart Bowen's SIGIR accomplishments in Iraq cost - the thing's being compiled by his office
Whatever the results of the investigation are, we can be assured that the Bowen's office is following standard government procedure now. Instead of saying something like, "investigation? We don't know about no stinkin' investigation," a spokeswoman for SIGIR said "I can neither confirm or deny the existence of any investigation. However, no SIGIR official has received notice that they are the subject or target of a criminal investigation." Now, that's traditional governmentalese.

This set of investigations will probably be in the news for a while: particularly since there's a presidential election coming up in November. Odds are pretty good that we'll hear at least some of the following:
  • The Bush administration is punishing SIGIR for revealing waste and abuse in Iraq
  • SIGIR is a ruse, diverting attention from the real sinister stuff going on in Iraq
  • SIGIR is a tool of the administration, covering American involvement in Iraq with a cloak of legitimacy
  • SIGIR somehow represents how America is hurting Iraq
I could be wrong, but election years seem to bring out the lunatic in many people.

A little background: SIGIR is a federal agency, set up by Congress and "serving the American public as a watchdog for fraud, waste, and abuse of funds intended for Iraq reconstruction programs." There needs to be some sort of oversight, with all the money flowing into Iraq.

A few statistics from the SIGIR website (
  • Total relief gone to Iraq as is now over $100 billion USD
  • total attacks on Coalition forces and Iraqis dropped to their lowest levels in over a year (maybe SIGIR is a propaganda tool of the administration!)
  • Total number of audits and total number of inspections by SIGIR is now over 100. (Roughly one audit per billion dollars?!)
There are quite a few reports available at the SIGIR website that might be worth wading through.

I'll admit, freely, that there has been malfeasance in America's efforts to help Iraq recover from three decades of a tyrant's management. The entire operation was run by human beings. And we tend to do bad things, given the opportunity.

However, it could be worse. Think about
  • The Reconstruction in the Old South, with scalawags and carpetbaggers?
  • The Treaty of Versailles, and and its cluelessly idealistic approach to drawing national boundaries on maps of Africa and Asia?
All things considered, I'd say that it would be better to live in Iraq now, than in the Old South a dozen decades ago.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.