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Iraq: Who watched the watchers?

An Iraqi works in the garden of Paradise Square in Baghdad, on March 20, 2013, the tenth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. In his final report to Congress this month, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, came to the conclusion that the $60 billion the U.S. spent on rebuilding in Iraq produced too few results.

Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, admits that he and his watchdog team will never know exactly how much was wasted or stolen in Iraq. What grade, then, should Bowen and his team get as they close up shop?

“Somewhere in the B-plus to A-minus range”, according to Scott Amey with the Project on Government OversightTheir investigations and audits helped recover $2 billion in direct savings or in court ordered recoveries”

Spending topped $25 million a day at one point and the team’s job was made no easier by the fact that it was operating in a war zone.

Catharine Lutz, co-director of the Cost of War Project at Brown University, adds:  

“They were in some cases not even able to get to the sites of some of the construction projects they were inspecting and had to show up at other places in helmets and flak jackets.”

Inspector General Bowen says if there’s a similar military intervention in future, the U.S. should keep someone like him on staff for good. A bill currently before Congress would do just that.

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