Letter: Where are the watchdogs?
One of the more successful appointments of the Bush administration has been Stuart W. Bowen as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Bowen is a Texas lawyer who worked on Bush's first campaign for governor and worked on the 2000 Flor...
One of the more successful appointments of the Bush administration has been Stuart W. Bowen as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Bowen is a Texas lawyer who worked on Bush's first campaign for governor and worked on the 2000 Florida recount team. He has served as associate counsel under Gonzales. It is his status as "one of the boys" that gives such credibility to his reports.
Since becoming SIGIR in October 2004 he has reported systemic management failings, lax to no oversight, apparent embezzlement and fraud. Some of the many instances reported include:
n A contractor paid twice for the same work.
n A U.S. official allowed to handle millions in cash weeks after being fired for incompetence.
n Of the $119.9 million allocated for regional projects, $89.4 million was paid without contracts or documentation.
n An additional $7.2 million just couldn't be found.
n A "reconstruction gap" -- $180 million spent on a contract to build 142 clinics but only six are complete.
n No large-scale U.S.-funded construction has met its scheduled budget -- but the new $592 million U.S. embassy was on time.
n A $300 million contract to a security company that "did not provide sufficient documentation to show that all of its employees that were issued weapons were qualified to use those weapons..."
n A call for the Army to withhold $90 million to Halliburton because it couldn't justify what it had charged.
If you agree that SIGIR is worthwhile, you may wonder why he's to be shut down.
After the Senate and House versions of the Defense Department funding bill had been reconciled, Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, had a staff member insert a provision to shut down SIGIR. Hunter (R-Calif.) receives much of his campaign money from defense contractors.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she had no idea how the provision was included in the final version but she is joining Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to reverse it.
Hunter has announced he's running for president -- how many donations are needed?
Barbara M. Edwards