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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Funds Fade, Deaths Rise, Rebuilding Is Spotty

    I wonder who will be asked to come up with more money?

    October 31, 2005
    Funds Fade, Deaths Rise and Iraq Rebuilding Is Spotty

    As the money runs out on the $30 billion American-financed reconstruction of Iraq, the officials in charge cannot say how many planned projects they will complete, and there is no clear source for hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to operate the projects that have been finished, according to a report to Congress released yesterday.

    The report, by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, describes some progress but also an array of projects that have gone awry, sometimes astonishingly, like electrical substations that were built at great cost but never connected to the country's electrical grid.

    With more than 93 percent of the American money now committed to specific projects, it could become increasingly difficult to solve those problems.

    Issues like those "should have been considered before," said Jim Mitchell, a spokesman for the inspector general's office. "It's very critical right now, with so little of the U.S. money left to be committed, that they're going to have to make these determinations very quickly."

    New statistics compiled in the report also reveal a jump in deaths and injuries of contract workers in Iraq, many of whom worked on reconstruction projects. At least 412 contractors and other civilian workers have died since the American-led invasion, 147 of them Americans. In June those numbers, based on insurance claims, were 330 and 113, respectively.

    Over all, the report says, since the war began there have been 4,208 death and injury claims filed through the insurance coverage that United States law requires for contractors of any nationality who work on American bases abroad. That number includes claims from bases around the world, and while the government does not report where the incidents occurred, a majority are believed to originate from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Those death and injury tolls, which in the chaos of Iraq are probably underreported to begin with, especially among Iraqi contractors, have come about even though more than a quarter of the reconstruction money has actually "been spent on security costs related to the insurgency," the report says.

    The security costs have "proportionately reduced funds for other reconstruction projects," the report continues, leading to countless initiatives being scaled down or canceled. Rick Barton, a senior adviser and co-director of the post-conflict reconstruction project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the fear among workers has had as much impact on the rebuilding program as the money woes have.

    "What you have to keep in mind is the chilling effect of that many deaths and that many injuries," Mr. Barton said. "I think the numbers are huge."

    The report also outlines what it calls "steady progress" in parts of the American-financed rebuilding program, despite what is described as "the hazardous security environment, the fluid political situation, and the harsh realities of working in a war zone."

    Some 1,887 of 2,784 rebuilding projects have been completed, by the American government's own count, and progress has been made in coming up with estimates for how much it will cost to complete the remaining work. Those estimates are needed to determine how many of the projects will have to be cut.

    The projects include water treatment plants, oil pump stations, electricity generators and power lines, police stations, border posts, schools, clinics, roads and post offices. Aside from the security bills, rising materials costs, delays and repeated changes in the priorities in rebuilding have contributed to the financial challenges.

    "I think that the report confirms what we have been saying for some time - that we continue to make progress in rebuilding Iraq," said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman.

    Regarding the shortcomings detailed by the report on the ability of the United States government to gauge that progress, Colonel Venable said, "There's a war going on, so not everything can be known, but there's certainly a desire to discover" more complete information.

    A spokeswoman for the State Department, which now largely oversees the rebuilding effort, , "We welcome and value the independent oversight." She spoke under department ground rules that require anonymity. "Their objective findings have helped improve transparency, accountability and efficiency as we work with the Iraqi people to establish an independent, stable and prosperous Iraq," she said.

    The five electrical substations examined by the inspector general's office, which is led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., were built in southern Iraq at a cost of $28.8 million. "The completed substations were found to be well planned, well designed and well constructed," the report says. Unfortunately, the system for distributing power from the completed substations was largely nonexistent.

    "No date for installing the distribution system was given," the report says.

    Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who travels extensively in Iraq, said problems like that illustrated why the official American government statistics on competed projects could seldom be taken at face value.

    "All too often," Mr. Rubin said of the numbers, "the goal in the bureaucracy is to cover their own backside rather than to actually make sure the money does good."

    Among the troubled projects described in the report was an $8.2 million pipeline that would have severely restricted the flow of crude oil across a river, simply because the pipe chosen by the contractor was far too narrow along a critical 200-yard span.

    That problem was fixed after the inspection, but in an array of other projects, scrutiny came too late.

    The inspector general found that $7.3 million was mismanaged and $1.3 million entirely wasted through duplicate work and buying overpriced equipment in the construction of a police academy in the city of Babylon, south of Baghdad. Similarly, $1.8 million was paid in advance for work that was not performed during the rehabilitation of a library in the city of Karbala, which is holy to Shiites.

  2. #2
    umdkook Guest

    Re: Funds Fade, Deaths Rise, Rebuilding Is Spotty

    im so glad we had to ruin a desert country to kick one person out of office, then rebuild the country from the ground up, making sure we do a good job so we dont get s hit from teh rest of the world for ruining their country then leaving them out to dry.

    Bush is a lunatic with no idea what he is doing. he flys by the seat of his pants and really should fly with cheney to a far, far away place and not come back.

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