Sunday, October 14, 2007

Iraq Anti-Corruption Chief Stranded in D.C.

The job of rooting out corruption is key to a functioning democracy. David Walker, comptroller general of the United States, addressed House committee hearings this month on the scope of corruption in Iraq. He said:

"Widespread corruption undermines efforts to develop the government's capacity by robbing it of needed resources, some of which are used to fund the insurgency."

Iraq's anti-corruption chief , Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, had the job. While he was in Washington for Justice Department training, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki booted him from the position. Maliki accused al-Rahdi of corruption and froze his assets, stranding him in the United States. What better place to learn about influence peddling and the politics of personal destruction?

The Judge said he found corruption involving Mr. al-Maliki's relatives. Welcome to America where George Bush can't answer a question on backdated stock options without having to address the follow up on his uncle. William H.T. Bush benefited from illegal stock option practices as a board member of ESSI. Likely Uncle Bucky had nothing to do with the scheme, but his pocketbook received the benefit at considerable shareholder expense.

Yet, the maligned Iraqi didn't realize the same practices apply here, under the unbreakable bond of the Iron Triangle, rich firm, lobbyist, and earmark inducing Congress person. The anti-corruption chief kept talking, this time to U.S. press and congressional committees.

Corruption is costing the Iraqi government tens of billions of dollars, al-Rahdi said. Some of that money is being funneled to sectarian militias. Though 5 million Iraqis have fled, the government is spending the same amount on ration cards. Food and supplies never make it to their destination. Ministries are fulfilling between 2 and 5 percent of their obligations, al-Rahdi said.

The Bush administration has asked for $255 million more in aid for Iraq's government this year, but the Government Accountability Office has said no more money should be sent until it's clear that it will further U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Recall Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's comment on U.S. politicians as "incompetent and corrupted". That means domestic measures would need to be taken to hide any malfeasance or the government's inability to identify and address the same.

Arthur Brennan served in Baghdad briefly as the head of the State Department's Office of Accountability and Transparency. This agency charged with documenting the extent of corruption in Iraq's government. Before Congress he testified to the question whether he found any coordinated U.S. strategy for combating corruption during his service in Iraq? Brennan, according to a transcript of the hearing, said "No."

Brennan's report and other information provided by those with knowledge of the situation has been stamped classified, and officials have been prevented from discussing the matter. On orders of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the State Department is refusing to provide Congress with the information about corruption in the Maliki government.

Keep your eyes open Judge al-Rahdi. You're getting schooled by the pro's...