by David Phinney
Monday September 23rd 2019

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The Iraq Reconstruction Mess: What Else is News?

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general charged with investigating the billions of dollars wasted in the rebuilding of Iraq, makes the news again with the same old story:

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said the program faced enormous challenges, especially an unstable security environment…. “There have been notable accomplishments,” but also significant shortfalls, he said. (Associated Press)

The Primary Culprits for the Shortfalls: Iraqi officials.
Little is said about how some U.S. officials and contractors work hand-in-glove with them. Like kittens at the milk bowl, news reporters lap up Bowen’s reports. It’s as though he has free rein to frame news stories crafted with never-ending, flattering headlines — and set the stage for a reportedly possible Senate bid* in Virginia, home to many of the Beltway contractors he is charged with investigating.
Loose Lips Sink Ships: The inspector general’s office at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad is perhaps the most visible office there. Sources tell me that anyone who goes in to report waste, fraud and abuse gets noticed immediately within the tightly-knit community of contractors, U.S. government workers, news reporters and others inside the Green Zone. These people all socialize together, party together, and many look out for each other in the increasingly targeted area. Gossip spreads like wildfire about everyone else’s business. Anonymity for snitches is nearly impossible….

“Say, did you see who just walked into the inspector’s general office today?”

“Mission failure” is a constant concern and very few want to be the topic of conversation when it could be connected to multi-billion-dollar corruption and fraud. Step outside the Green Zone and a person can disappear and be chalked up as another unexplained casualty of war. Like sailors on a long voyage, it pays to get along with everyone in the crew. The alternative can be deadly. Someone might throw you overboard as the ship sails away in the dark of night and the cry for help fades in the distance.
See The Murder of a Whistle-Blowing Contractor.
Tuesday’s Congressional Hearing:

“It is simply outrageous that we are mired in the same mud of incompetence that we got stuck in last year and the year before that. But knowing the administration’s abysmal track record on Iraq reconstruction planning, this is no surprise,” Tom Lantos, the committee’s Democratic chairman, said. (Financial Times)

Here’s Stuart Bowen’s Bio: Bowen has served President George W. Bush as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Staff Secretary and Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel. He has been a partner at the law firm of Patton Boggs LLP, in its Washington, D.C. office. Before his White House tenure, Bowen served as Counsel to the Bush-Cheney transition team; and from 1994 to 2000, he held a variety of positions on Governor George Bush’s staff in Texas, including Deputy General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation, and Assistant General Counsel. (Wikipedia)
Could Bowen be a possible gatekeeper for damage control?
Of course not…. Just ask the news media. They maintain constant vigilance on such questions even if more than one former Bowen employee complains privately about having an investigation thwarted. After all, these cranks have axes to grind and government careers to protect. (phinneydavid(at)yahoo.com)
*In Virginia, Seator John Warner has announced that he will run for a sixth term in 2008, at which point he will be 82 years old. However, highly popular former Governor Mark Warner, who won 47% of the vote in a challenge to Warner in 1996 when he was but a little-known political neophyte, may run. Warner raised only $500 for re-election in the first quarter of 2007, which may indicate he will retire after all. Should that happen, possible Republican candidates include Congressman Tom Davis and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. (Wikipedia)

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One Response to “The Iraq Reconstruction Mess: What Else is News?

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