News

Violence Blamed for Many Delays in US Reconstruction Efforts in Iraq

U.S. officials have told Congress U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq are being significantly, and expensively, hampered by security concerns. This was among the issues raised as lawmakers grilled administration representatives about what has happened to the millions of U.S. dollars that have been spent in Iraq for reconstruction projects.

Both Democrats and Republicans blasted what they considered a lack of accountability about the huge sums of money in Iraq. Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos said it is important that U.S. and Iraqi funds are not misused, and that reconstruction projects there are successful.

"Unless we show the Iraqi people that their liberation has brought tangible benefits, or at the very least, the restoration of central services to pre-war levels, key factions will continue to side with the insurgents, and not with forces of freedom," said Tom Lantos.

In his testimony to the House committee, USAID's James Kunder acknowledged that, in his words, mistakes have been made. But he blamed what he described as the "violence of the insurgency" as one of the main factors.

"As I've reported to the committee in the past, somewhere between 16 and 22 percent, depending on the program, of the reconstruction dollars are going in to security, paying for armed guards so we can conduct immunization programs for children, and so forth," said James Kunder.

At the same time, he said there are smaller-scale success stories that are taking place behind the scenes, such as efforts to improve Iraq's agricultural sector.

"One of the impediments, we discovered, to rebuilding that agricultural economy is [that there is] simply no infrastructure left to restore farm implements, to repair farm implements," he said. "So, U.S. taxpayer dollars have gone to create 14 tractor repair workshops around the country, where we're repairing thousands of pieces of agriculture equipment that had gone to rust and weren't working."

Meanwhile, the special inspector general in Iraq, Stuart Bowen, testified that his office has been involved in what he described as "aggressive oversight" of U.S. government projects in Iraq.

"They've completed 42 inspections, and 97 limited reviews," said Stuart Bowen. "And we've also been using overhead imagery to look at project sites that no one can get to, to make some assessment of how they're doing. And we've done 112 of those, with benefits, through engineering suggestions, that have been in the tens of millions of dollars."

Bowen added that there have been five arrests and two convictions, of individuals involved in fradulent use of U.S. funds in Iraq. He added that 20 more cases have been referred to the Department of Justice.

The congressionally mandated office of the special inspector general in Iraq was set up nearly two years ago.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs