An End to Oversight in Iraq

The Bush administration hasn't worried about congressional oversight for the last six years. Now it expects to be free from scrutiny by the special inspector general for Iraq. The special IG recently reported that the military hasn't kept track of hundreds of thousands of weapons meant for Iraqi security forces. That's the sort of embarassing news that Republicans are hoping to silence.

The special IG office, which since 2004 has kept watch over how U.S. taxpayers' funds are being spent rebuilding Iraq, is scheduled to close at the end of fiscal year 2007, next Sept. 30. Its expiration has prompted concerns that new and continuing investigations into waste, fraud and abuse by Iraqis and American contractors will recede into the shadows of the federal bureaucracy.

About a hundred investigations are underway, and there's no sensible reason to think that waste and fraud in Iraqi expenditures will end soon. Republican support for closing the office can only be based on a desire to conceal malfeasance.

[The special IG's] investigations have uncovered overcharges by major contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel, missing funds through corruption in the Iraqi ministries and bad accounting throughout the U.S. federal bureaucracy leading the rebuilding effort.

The special IG should watch his back for the next year. A White House that equates criticism with treason might be tempted to detain the special IG at Guantanamo for giving material support to the enemy.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Losing track of weapons, and worse (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 10:07:20 PM EST
    I've only had to read the headline on the story about there being something like a half-million weapons imported by the US into Iraq, to know this was no stupid accident.

    The conclusion is inescapable that these weapons were deliberately injected into Iraq by the US government, almost certainly with the expectation that they would wind up "in the wrong hands".

    Let's look at my reasoning.

    One of the first things every soldier learns, from second one of his/her service, is that weapons are never, f'g never left unsecured and never, ever unaccounted for.  Losing a weapons card - a form the size of a business card upon which is entered your assigned weapon's model and serial number, arms room inventory/control number (a locally-generated number assigning it a particular space in the arms rack), and your personal information - is as bad as losing a weapon.

    Most vets can still tell you the serial number of their weapon.  

    In a military unit, someone losing control and accountability of a weapon stops everything until control and accountability of the weapon is reestablished (and the responsible parties suitably chastised).  My unit used to inventory weapons a minimum of twice a day when in the field, and before leaving any location for another.  If the accounting came up less than perfect - everything stopped until the problem was rectified.

    Examples I've seen (or been directly aware of):

    • A bayonet fell out of a scabbard in a training area.  An entire company spent the better part of a day low-crawling the ground looking for it, until it was found.  (This was a good reason, in peacetime, why most units left their bayonets in the footlocker in the arms room.  One more thing to lose....)
    • An amphibious vehicle swamped and sank during an engineer unit's river-crossing exercise, with the crew of 5 or 6 going into the water.  Three or four of them became separated from their rifles while swimming, and a night vision device sank with the vehicle.  The vehicle was recovered in a day or so, but the rifles were not found.  That company spent the next month guarding that stretch of river 24/7 while the unit brought in a crane and tried to make a dredge from the crane and some of its float bridge.  They were unsuccessful, but the weapons were never written off, and their spaces in the weapons racks in the arms room, never filled.
    • After the Vietnam war, many, many M16 rifles were captured by the North Vietnamese, and put into the international arms market (in one way or another).  By the serial numbers, the US was able to know the weapons' provenance (and sometimes recover them from circulation).

    It goes so far against anything even remotely acceptable in military practice to (1) allow large numbers of weapons into circulation and (2) not even record the serial numbers prior to letting them out, that one can only conclude letting these weapons out was deliberate.  No one at the level high enough to dispose of a half million weapons can be that negligent and still keep their job.

    "Lost" weapons... (none / 0) (#3)
    by desertswine on Tue Oct 31, 2006 at 09:57:23 AM EST
    The idea that these thousands of weapons were not "lost" by accident is intriguing to say the least.  

    Then either they must have been black marketed for profit, or turned over to various insurgent groups to help foster civil war (better to have them divided and killing each other than united against us).


    This is telling (none / 0) (#2)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 10:13:11 PM EST
    The IG reports have given credit where credit is due. For instance, Bowen noted that oil production began exceeding pre-war levels this summer.

    How nice for the neocons. We may as well get used to 60 to 80 KIA/day. The oil must flow.

    Meanwhile, it becomong more and more likely that our own kids have been killed (and apparently WILL be killed) with weapons WE sent there.