Iraq Worse Off After 14 Months of US-led Occupation

According to a 105-page report released by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, Iraq is worse off now than it was before the US-UK invasion. Among the GAO's findings:
  • In 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces, electricity was available fewer hours per day on average last month than before the war. Nearly 20 million of Iraq's 26 million people live in those provinces.

  • Only $13.7 billion of the $58 billion pledged and allocated worldwide to rebuild Iraq has been spent, with another $10 billion about to be spent. The biggest chunk of that money has been used to run Iraq's ministry operations.

  • The country's court system is more clogged than before the war, and judges are frequent targets of assassination attempts.

  • The new Iraqi civil defense, police and overall security units are suffering from mass desertions, are poorly trained and ill-equipped.

  • The number of what the now-disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority called significant insurgent attacks skyrocketed from 411 in February to 1,169 in May.
Do you mean to tell me that Halliburton, Bechtel and other GOP-friendly corporations are making millions of dollars to rebuild Iraq and they're not doing a good job? Typical.

But wait, there is more, according to three reports released by the Coalitional Provisional Authority's inspector general.
  • The Coalitional Provisional Authority wasted millions of dollars at a Hilton resort hotel in Kuwait because it didn't have guidelines for who could stay there, lost track of how many employees it had in Iraq and didn't track reconstruction projects funded by international donors to ensure they didn't duplicate U.S. projects.

  • The CPA's records were so disorganized that it couldn't verify its actual number of employees.
The responses to this news was to be expected. While experts on the right and left used the reports to criticize the CPA and the Bush administration, a few made weak excuses for conditions in Iraq.
Danielle Pletka, the vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said other issues are more important than the provision of services such as electricity. She noted that Iraqis no longer live in fear of Saddam Hussein.

"It's far better to live in the dark than it is to run the risk that your mother, father, brother, sister, husband or wife would be taken away never to be seen again," Pletka said.

But Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that asked for the GAO report, said the report showed major problems.

"So while we've handed over political sovereignty, we haven't handed over practical capacity - that is, the ability for the Iraqis themselves to provide security, defend their borders, defeat the insurgency, deliver basic services, run a government and set the foundation for economic progress," Biden said in a written statement. "Until Iraqis can do all of that, it will be impossible for us to responsibly disengage from Iraq."