Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ten Billion Dollars Wasted..

...Depending on Who's Doing the Math

This AP story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer cites federal investigators in claiming $10 BILLION of waste in the Iraq reconstruction effort.
"About $10 billion has been squandered by the U.S. government on Iraq reconstruction aid because of contractor overcharges and unsupported expenses, and federal investigators warned Thursday that significantly more taxpayer money is at risk.

The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done.

More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors were questionable or unsupported, nearly triple the amount of waste the Government Accountability Office estimated last fall.

'There is no accountability,' said David M. Walker, who heads the auditing arm of Congress. 'Organizations charged with overseeing contracts are not held accountable. Contractors are not held accountable. The individuals responsible are not held accountable.' "
For more details, consult the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Coverage from MSNBC adds another intriguing detail, "Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2.7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services firm once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

To my mind it's much worse than 'just' $10 BILLION wasted. Since nothing has been accomplished in Iraq, if fact the entire foreign policy situation in the Middle East has been made WORSE, far worse by this ill-conceived misadventure, ALL of the money spent has been wasted. How much? This much.

Of course with BushCoâ„¢ in charge of things, you could expect that Enron-like accounting is taking place. Losses and liabilities will be passed off to other entities in order to make things look lots better than they are. When nearly all the details are classified, it's even easier to do that. An analysis done over a year ago, and reported in the Boston Globe, tells a more sobering tale;
"The cost of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion after factoring in long-term healthcare for wounded US veterans, rebuilding a worn-down military, and accounting for other unforeseen bills and economic losses, according to a new analysis to be presented today in Boston.

The estimate by Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes far exceeds projections made by the Bush administration.

The figure is more than four times what the war was expected to cost through 2006 -- around $500 billion, according to congressional budget data."
YOU do the math. Or would you rather leave it to this fool?

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