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.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs