Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wasting our money

It could not be more painfully obvious after reading this NYTimes story that we are just wasting our money in Iraq.

In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle.
At the airport, crucially important for the functioning of the country, inspectors found that while $11.8 million had been spent on new electrical generators, $8.6 million worth were no longer functioning.

At the maternity hospital, a rehabilitation project in the northern city of Erbil, an expensive incinerator for medical waste was padlocked — Iraqis at the hospital could not find the key when inspectors asked to see the equipment — and partly as a result, medical waste including syringes, used bandages and empty drug vials were clogging the sewage system and probably contaminating the water system.

The newly built water purification system was not functioning either.

Officials at the oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, said they had made an effort to sample different regions and various types of projects, but that they were constrained from taking a true random sample in part because many projects were in areas too unsafe to visit. So, they said, the initial set of eight projects — which cost a total of about $150 million — cannot be seen as a true statistical measure of the thousands of projects in the roughly $30 billion American rebuilding program.

I would imagine that the projects in the areas now deemed "too unsafe to visit" are probably not faring much better and most likely are doing far worse.

most of the problems seemed unrelated to sabotage stemming from Iraq’s parlous security emsituation, but instead were the product of poor initial construction, petty looting, a lack of any maintenance and simple neglect.

And we can't even blame the problems on the terrorists. Apparently it is just plain old incompetence - a hallmark of the Bush presidency - that is at fault here.

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