Friday, November 03, 2006

John Kline Terminates Federal Oversight In Iraq

Tucked away in a huge military authorization bill signed by Bu$h two weeks ago is an obscure provision terminating the federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007.

The clause was inserted by Rep. John Kline and the rest of the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference. Perhaps Kline thought the Iraq's war won't need oversight in another year but then why did he vote YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (june 2006)?

It has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

Lawmakers aside, this intentional removal of oversight should generate outrage among all of us. It is unbelievable and inexcusable to eliminate the oversight of billions of taxpayer dollars in Iraq. This is a balant misuse of power. It is wrong and endangers our military. As Senator Dayton has pointed out in the past:

"Certainly as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee it's been frustrating not being able to get the kind of oversight that we should have. The intelligence committee Democrats feel the same way. But they (Republicans) run the Congress as well as the White House and they've been able to basically carry out their own will."

John Kline has removed all accountability and is allowing taxpayers to be openly ripped off by no-bid contracts and war profiteering scams.

Just this week it was revealed that U.S. military has not kept proper track of hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces. The report, released by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, shows the U.S. military never even recorded the serial numbers of almost half a million weapons it gave to the Iraqis. This means tracking the weapons has now become nearly impossible. Inconsistencies in the number of weapons purchased and those in Iraqi warehouses show that more than 13,000 weapons are, essentially, missing and presumed in the hands of insurgents who use those weapons to kill Iraqi civilians and American soldiers.

Private corporations that provide food, water, fuel, services, and protection to various government agencies are often found to possess no-bid contract deals, overcharge government agencies for services rendered at ludicrous amounts, and provide little to no accountability for any misfortune or tragedy that may befall any of its employees or our military by cutting costs at the expense of safety or security.
  • Despite over eight months of work and billions of dollars spent, key pieces of Iraq's infrastructure - power plants, telephone exchanges, and sewage and sanitation systems -have either not been repaired, or have been fixed so poorly that they don't function
  • Bechtel has been given tens of millions to repair Iraq's schools. Yet many haven't been touched, and several schools that Bechtel claims to have repaired are in shambles. One 'repaired' school was overflowing with unflushed sewage; a teacher at the school also reported that 'the American contractors took away our Japanese fans and replaced them with Syrian fans that don't work' - billing the U.S. government for the work.

  • Inflated overhead costs and a byzantine maze of sub-contracts have left little money for the everyday workers carrying out projects. In one contract for police operations, Iraqi guards received only 10% of the money allotted for their salaries; Indian cooks for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root reported making just three dollars a day.
Kline has turned his back on taxpayers and those who risk their lives in Iraq by allowing 'for profit' corporations a free hand in Iraq. The soldiers who put their lives on the live in Iraq are too valuable to allow brazen war profiteers to be free of federal oversight and accountability. Isn't it time we have some real oversight of the billions of dollars being spent in Iraq? It won't happen with John Kline. Vote Change, Vote Coleen Rowley.

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