Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Iraq Reconstruction Hearing

February 6, 2007
Blog
Throughout the course of the Iraq War, a steady stream of reports have indicated widespread and massive fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds in Iraq.   Today, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, testified to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on management of U.S. funds in Iraq. They answered questions about an audit report issued in 2005 by Mr. Bowen that concluded that more than $8.8 billion in cash was disbursed without adequate financial controls.

Watch Opening Remarks from Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), in which he discusses the absence of the Administration's point person for Iraq reconstruction:

Transcript:

WAXMAN: So I invited Ambassador Carney to testify today. When my staff talked to Ambassador Carney directly, he was cooperative and said he was willing to come. This the State Department refused.

Their first excuse was that he had not yet filled out his paperwork. Even though Secretary Rice publicly announced his critical new position, he apparently could not talk to Congress because he had not been officially hired.

Next, the State Department said Ambassador Carney could not come because he did not yet know what he was going to do in Iraq. This seemed odd, especially since the secretary had already announced that he was her new point person on Iraq reconstruction.

Then, just last week, we were informed that the department suddenly decided that Ambassador Carney was needed in Baghdad right away. So even though he was not officially hired and, according to the State Department, had no idea what he was going to do in Iraq, he was put on a plane to Baghdad this past Friday.

The State Department has now told us they might make Ambassador Carney available to Congress in six months.  After all the billions wasted in Iraq, six months just isn't good enough.  We will have an empty chair for Ambassador Carney today, but I can assure the Secretary of State that that chair won't be empty for long.

Background:

REBUILDING IRAQ: U.S. MISMANAGEMENT OF IRAQI FUNDS

Committee on Government Reform, Minority Staff Report, June 2005

Watch Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) question witnesses on accounting practices for the Coalition Provisional Authority:

Background:

Audit: U.S. lost track of $9 billion in Iraq funds

CNN - January 31, 2005

Nearly $9 billion of money spent on Iraqi reconstruction is unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management, according to a watchdog report published Sunday.

An inspector general's report said the U.S.-led administration that ran Iraq until June 2004 is unable to account for the funds.

Watch Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) and Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) question witnesses on hiring practices for the Coalition Provisional Authority:

Background:

In Iraq, the Job Opportunity of a Lifetime

Washington Post - May 23, 2004

For months [young CPA workers] wondered what they had in common, how their names had come to the attention of the Pentagon, until one day they figured it out: They had all posted their resumes at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank.

Watch Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Paul Bremer discuss what lessons can be learned from Bremer's experience.  Bremer reveals that the new reconstruction coordinator, Ambassador Carney, not only did not attend this hearing but did not consult with Bremer either:

Background:

President's Address to the Nation

White House website -- January 10, 2007

"We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq."

In the wake of these hearings, the Army announced that it would be reducing payments to Halliburton subsidiary KBR by $19.6 million, all direct savings to the taxpayers.