News brief on a story in the NYT tomorrow: U.S. Rebuilding in Iraq Found to Fall Short. Highlights:
Because of unforeseen security costs, haphazard planning and shifting priorities, the American-financed reconstruction program in Iraq will not complete scores of projects that were promised to help rebuild the country, a federal oversight agency reported yesterday….Only 49 of the 136 projects that were originally pledged to improve Iraq’s water and sanitation will be finished, with about 300 of an initial 425 projects to provide electricity, the report says….The planners of the rebuilding effort did not take into account hundreds of millions of dollars in administrative costs, and mostly did not realize that the United States would have to spend money to keep things like power plants and sewage treatment plants running once they had been built, the report says. That ultimately forced the United States to pare the list of projects to cover such expenses….Beyond the huge cost of protecting reconstruction projects, which the report says the planners did not foresee, billions of dollars were shifted from the rebuilding effort to things like training Iraqi police and guarding Iraq’s borders. The report, by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, adds that the overall rebuilding plan was also devised without a clear understanding of the decrepit state of Iraq’s infrastructure after decades of war, United Nations-imposed penalties and sheer neglect….The report was released only days after a separate audit of American financial practices in Iraq uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe….But in contrast to that earlier audit, which focused on rebuilding projects financed by money from Iraqi oil proceeds and assets seized from Saddam Hussein’s regime, the latest report covers projects underwritten with American taxpayer money.