by David Phinney
Thursday May 28th 2020



Iraq Inspector General under Investigation

Stuart Bowen, the inspector general assigned to auditing the $22 billion in US reconstruction funds for Iraq is under investigation himself. This is nothing new. It involves complaints from former employees at the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction filed in early 2006.
What is New: Details about employees apparently being pulled from auditing actual contracts and reassigned to writing “a book about the broad lessons of Iraq reconstruction.”

Bowen Repeatedly Insists: It is the contracting process that failed in Iraq and squandered billions of taxpayer dollars and seized Iraqi assets — not fraud and abuse by the people inking the contracts or the companies performing the work.
Pulled Away from Audits: I’ve heard even harder-edged complaints. Bowen may have pulled investigators away from audits that appeared to be leading to big fraud cases in Iraq. (One source asks rhetorically: Is it true Bowen is entertaining a run for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, home to many of the Beltway contractors he is responsible for investigating?…)

Bowen’s staff?
Eight full-time investigators in Iraq and another 12 in Arlington, Va. Six former employees, almost all with several decades of government experience, are said to be taking part in the complaint.
Other Oblique Details: Reported by The New York Times.

Accusations involve fairly narrow issues: a payment to a contractor that the employees believed was unjustified; a project to produce a type of report on reconstruction that they maintain is outside the Congressional mandate of the office; and what the employees contend is an inflated estimate of how much money investigations by the office have saved American taxpayers. (By the way, this isn’t really a scoop. The Washington Examiner reported the same things more than a month ago.)

We Shall See: Is Bowen a political target of those who want to throttle his auditing (i.e., the investigators looking into his work)?… Is he ignoring major fraud investigations?… Is the inspector general simply battling with crank former employees?… Or is the investigation, led by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, going to tread lightly on the issues raised? (The news angles are still unframed.)
Stay tuned: So far, the news media has given Bowen nothing but flattering coverage for his work. Many reporters breathlessly reiterate his findings, veiled with narrative color, as penetrating, investigative efforts. That dynamic could change now that the Democrats control Congress and can pursue investigations on their own. The news media may not be so cozy in the future with Bowen.
The Washington Post story here and The New York Times here.


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