After receiving substantial testimony from witnesses at previous hearings, I was delighted that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice finally found the time to appear before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It was my hope that she would use this opportunity to address the severe corruption in Iraq, which has had the effect of undermining not only the Iraqi government, but also our efforts to assist them in standing on their own.

President Bush has repeatedly told us ‘when the Iraqis stand up, we can stand down,’ but I do not see much possibility of reaching this objective when the Iraqi people do not have a leg on which to stand. It is evident that we need to make significant efforts to eradicate this corruption that is crippling the Iraqi government, and Ms. Rice’s testimony this morning did not instill much confidence that such actions are a priority.

The State Department and the Bush Administration are not doing enough to manage the Iraq War, but they are doing everything in their power to hide this mismanagement. In light of yesterday’s report from the independent Congressional Budget Office stating that the American people will pay a projected $1.7 trillion for the Iraq War through the next decade, I do not think it is asking too much that we be offered a candid, public assessment of the administration’s failed policy, failed oversight, and failed diplomatic efforts.

Four years after we toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq is still the third most corrupt country in the world. We are hearing endless reports, from both State Department officials and independent entities, that that this corruption in Iraq—including corruption of the Maliki government—is funding terrorists and undermining our troops. The Special Inspector General for Iraq recently testified before the Committee that the corruption in Iraq is a ‘second insurgency.’

Furthermore, it would appear that the State Department is neglecting to make any substantive efforts at battling this corruption. The former head of the Office of Accountability and Transparency—an organization established by the State Department—testified that he was not aware of any coordinated U.S. strategy to fight corruption in Iraq. The head of the Government Accountability Office testified that State Department efforts are ‘fragmented, duplicative, and disorganized.’

It is increasingly clear that no amount of military surges or blank checks written for this war will resolve the complex ethnic and religious conflicts that plague Iraq and its neighboring countries. It is time for the Bush Administration to stop covering up its failures and mismanagement and begin a new course in Iraq. This policy must include a multilateral and bilateral diplomatic initiative involving the international community and the countries neighboring Iraq.