Congressman Lynch Blasts Plan To Phase Out Iraq Anti-Corruption Probe -- Lynch Says Cover-Up Will Encourage Corruption

Nov 3, 2006

Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) today blasted the move by Congressional Republicans to secretly terminate the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, Jr.

The termination clause was inserted into the final version of the FY 2007 Defense Authorization Bill, behind closed doors, by the Republican staff of the House Armed Services Committee prior to the bill’s consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.  According to the one-sentence provision [Section 1054], which can be found on page 318 of the 984-page bill, "[t]he Office of the Inspector General shall terminate on October 1, 2007 with transition operations authorized to continue through December 31, 2007.”  Members only had a couple of hours to read the final bill before it was passed by the House on September 29th, by the Senate on September 30th, and was signed into law by the President on October 17, 2006. 

In response to the revelation, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said, "This is a blatant and disgraceful political maneuver by the White House and Congressional Republicans designed to disguise the corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse of $30 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars – as well as over $20 billion in Iraqi money – that has been spent on Iraq Reconstruction.  Congress should immediately reinstate Mr. Bowen’s office when it returns on November 13th.” 

Congressman Lynch, a member of the Committee on Government Reform, said, "Under the leadership of Henry Waxman and Tom Davis, our Committee has spent three years trying to determine where the billions of dollars that have disappeared during Iraq Reconstruction have gone.  I’ve also been to Iraq five times in order to verify whether billions of dollars in contract expenditures were indeed legitimate.”

"Mr. Bowen and his auditing and inspection teams play a critical role in examining this Administration’s gross mismanagement of Iraqi reconstruction no-bid contracts and funds – which has amounted to a looting of the U.S. Treasury.  The numbers we’re talking about are absolutely staggering.  This is also a lost opportunity to help the Iraqi people and it has frustrated our overall policy in Iraq – an effort for which over 2,800 of our brave service men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Congressman Lynch.  

 

"They are the only auditors and inspectors we have that actually operate out of Iraq – with everyone else working out of Arlington, Virginia,” added Congressman Lynch, referring to the October 2005 testimony of the Department of Defense’s Acting Inspector General, Thomas Gimble, before Lynch’s Government Reform Committee.  Gimble told the panel that the Department does not have auditors on the ground in Iraq.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction was created in October 2004 and plays an instrumental role in assessing the progress and management of Iraq reconstruction efforts, including examining growing evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse.  Most recently, an October 28, 2006 audit report issued by Mr. Bowen revealed that the Department of Defense has lost track of over 300,000 weapons purchased for the Iraqi Security Forces with $133 million of reconstruction funds. 

Congressman Lynch said, "Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel appointed to investigate President Clinton, spent 5 years conducting the Whitewater inquiry. That was a real estate deal that occurred in 1978 involving a $203,000 investment.  What we are talking about here in the context of Iraq Reconstruction is breathtaking in its size and scope.  We’re talking about the largest cash shipments in the history of the Federal Reserve Bank. Billions of dollars just disappeared when they got to Iraq.  And now because the biggest contractor on the ground was Halliburton, Vice President Cheney’s former company, the White House wants to take a pass on the investigation.  Shame on them. To terminate Mr. Bowen, who is responsible for the immense task of tracking down billions of dollars in missing reconstruction funds, flies in the face of common sense and undermines any attempt to show the Iraqis the advantages of a democratic government and political system based on the rule of law.” 

Congressman Lynch plans to return to Iraq later this month and focus on this issue.

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