The Nation-Building Money Pit

Ackerman reports on reconstruction funds ill-spent in Iraq:

It turns out there wasn’t just one way to waste all that money. Some projects got started and never finished, like a prison in Diyala province … that languishes unbuilt nearly nine years after the government spent $40 million to build it. Other contracts went to cronies: the top contracting officer in Hilla awarded $8.6 million to a contractor, Philip Bloom, in exchange for “bribes and kickbacks, expensive vehicles, business-class airline tickets, computers, jewelry, and other items.” Still others got needless cash infusions: one unspecified school requested $10,000 for refurbishments and got $70,000. Government contracting databases didn’t even have “an information management system that keeps track of everything built,” [Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction,] recounts.

Funny how Republicans are not appalled by this waste of public money. If the waste is on weaponry, they’re indifferent. If it’s in healthcare for the poor, vigilance is the watchword. Until they manage to show that they are fiscal conservatives with no obvious exceptions for their favored constituencies – the financial sector, the Pentagon, the health insurance industry – they will rightly be viewed with skepticism.