An “appalling” report on the misuse of U.S. reconstruction funding for Iraq shows the need for a “top-to-bottom” review of the State Department and its aid agency, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday.
“The extent of waste and abuse in the $60 billion of Iraq reconstruction funds coupled with the instability still evident in Iraq is appalling and highlights real failures of planning and execution that must be corrected to make U.S. foreign assistance a more effective tool for advancing the national interests of our country,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said. “At the same time, this final Iraq reconstruction report also highlights some approaches that worked and could be applied to future reconstruction efforts, especially the billions of dollars in remaining reconstruction funds for Afghanistan.”
Corker made the comments in response to the release of the final report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen. The final report, nine years in the making, documents everything from a $40 million half-finished prison no one wants to expensive medical equipment no one was ever trained to use.
The result: Millions of tax dollars misspent and Iraqis who see no benefit to American-funded projects. Iraqi officials interviewed for the report leveled three main criticisms, according to the report: insufficient U.S. consultation with Iraqi authorities when planning the reconstruction program; corruption and poor security fundamentally impeding progress throughout the program; and limited positive effects from the overall rebuilding effort.
“The Iraq reconstruction program," the report concludes, "provided a plethora of lessons about what happens when stabilization and reconstruction operations commence without sufficient systemic support in place."