The diplomats squiring $20.3 billion through Congress for reconstruction in Iraq make a sobering case for the money: Without dollars to get electricity flowing and factories open, there will be more job riots. Without billions in oil-field upgrades, oil earnings will fall short again next year. Without the money to train Iraqi security forces, more Americans will have to fight and die.
Now they have to try just as hard to retool the process of spending that money, to avoid further cronyism and to reassure Americans and others that their aid money will be spent fairly. ... All contributors want to know that Iraqi aid doesn't equate to the Halliburton Rescue Act. There's reason to believe otherwise.
In July, Vice President Dick Cheney's old firm Halliburton reported an 11 percent leap in quarterly revenues tied to ''government services work in the Middle East,'' an unbid $7 billion contract. It was one of several such deals that U.S. officials say were premised on the need for pre-war secrecy and post-war speed.
Such arrangements are too cozy for comfort or credibility. The Bush administration must bar its cronies at the door.
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland - Oct. 3
As Congress continues to mull President Bush's request for an additional $87 billion for rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, remarks by the commanding general in Iraq provide a sobering view of the United States commitment.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told the Chicago Tribune that he sees no reduction of U.S. forces for ''a few years,'' not by the end of next year, as the White House had said, adding credence to fears the $87 billion could be just the first in additional payments to the $79 billion granted in April.
Meanwhile, according to The New York Times, allegations of U.S. bureaucratic mismanaging are surfacing. Last month the Iraqi Governing Council questioned why the U.S. had issued a $20 million contract to buy new revolvers and rifles for the Iraqi police when the U.S. military was confiscating thousands of Iraqi weapons every month.
Last week, the council questioned the U.S. spending $1.2 billion to train 35,000 Iraqi police officers in Jordan when Germany and France have offered training free.
''There is mismanagement right and left,'' said council member Mahmoud Othman. ''We are victims and the American taxpayers are victims.'' Congressional oversight is obviously needed and the president should renew efforts to involve the United Nations.
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss. - Oct. 7
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