Thursday, October 25, 2007

Condi Calls Corruption Policy Bad, What about Practice?

In a strange exchange Rep. Henry Waxman of California expressed his concern about Iraqi leaders stifling corruption investigations. Condoleezza Rice spoke nobly of not endorsing a policy of corruption, but did not speak to appropriate tools and methods to discover the practice of fleecing taxpayers.

This comes at the heels of the State Department having no clue as to how most of DynCorp's $1.2 billion in funding to train Iraqi police forces was actually spent. The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction audit report said:

The State Department "does not know specifically what it received for most of the $1.2 billion in expenditures under its DynCorp contract for the Iraqi Police Training Program."

This would be the same position a Republican Congress tried to write out of funding in their final days in office. This practice is not unlike Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's latest move according to Rep. Waxman.

Mr Waxman presented Ms Rice with an order apparently from Mr Maliki which requires the Prime Minister's approval before any top officials are charged. The Congressman says this essentially grants immunity to the prime minister and top officials from corruption charges.

Why is this so timely, other than the unclear report on DynCorp's $1.2 billion contract? The top anti-corruption official for Iraq is now stranded in the United States. He says the Prime Minister dismissed him for getting too close to Mr. al Maliki's relatives in his corruption probes. The Judge found himself unemployed and the target of corruption claims himself. What's the average American to do, other than throw up our hands in disgust?

Auditors can't find basic documentation as to how U.S. government funds were spent in Iraq. Top Iraqi leaders, supposedly concerned about corruption, are in the midst of an internal war. And our Secretary of State simply opposes an official policy allowing corruption when a practical one lies before her very eyes. She even threatened "accusing Iraqis of corruption could sour relations." Who recently called corruption one of the biggest threats to the new democracy?

The American public saw a domestic version of non-transparency and hidden memories in the Justice Department attorney general firings. We'd like an honest accounting all around. It appears the U.S. and Iraqi democracies are failing in that regard.