Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bush Cuts, Prepares to Run


Sorry we broke your country into smithereens, chumps, but US mid-terms are coming, so we Bushist fascists are like, SO outta here!!

Full story at WaPo.

BAGHDAD -- The Bush administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February, officials say. The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein.

Just under 20 percent of the reconstruction package remains unallocated. When the last of the $18.4 billion is spent, U.S. officials in Baghdad have made clear, other foreign donors and the fledgling Iraqi government will have to take up what authorities say is tens of billions of dollars of work yet to be done merely to bring reliable electricity, water and other services to Iraq's 26 million people.

"The U.S. never intended to completely rebuild Iraq," Brig. Gen. William McCoy, the Army Corps of Engineers commander overseeing the work, told reporters at a recent news conference. In an interview this past week, McCoy said: "This was just supposed to be a jump-start."

Since the reconstruction effort began in 2003, midcourse changes by U.S. officials have shifted at least $2.5 billion from the rebuilding of Iraq's decrepit electrical, education, water, sewage, sanitation and oil networks to build new security forces for Iraq and to construct a nationwide system of medium- and maximum-security prisons and detention centers that meet international standards, according to reconstruction officials and documents. Many of the changes were forced by an insurgency more fierce than the United State [e.g., Bubble Boy & his confederacy of dunces] had expected when its troops entered Iraq.

In addition, from 14 percent to 22 percent of the cost of every nonmilitary reconstruction project goes toward security against insurgent attacks, according to reconstruction officials in Baghdad. In Washington, the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction puts the security costs of each project at 25 percent. . . .

[P]riorities were shifted rapidly to fund initiatives addressing the needs of a new Iraq: a 300-man Iraqi hostage-rescue force that authorities say stages operations almost every night in Baghdad; more than 600 Iraqis trained to dispose of bombs and protect against suicide bombs; four battalions of Iraqi special forces to protect the oil and electric networks; safe houses and armored cars for judges; $7.8 million worth of bulletproof vests for firefighters; and a center in the city of Kirkuk for treating victims of torture.

At the same time, the hundreds of Americans and Iraqis who have devoted themselves to the reconstruction effort point to 3,600 projects that the United States has completed or intends to finish before the $18.4 billion runs out around the end of 2006. These include work on 900 schools, construction of hospitals and nearly 160 health care centers and clinics, and repairs on or construction of nearly 800 miles of highways, city streets and village roads.

But the insurgency has set back efforts across the board. In two of the most crucial areas, electricity and oil production, relentless sabotage has kept output at or below prewar levels despite the expenditure of hundreds of millions of American dollars and countless man-hours. Oil production stands at roughly 2 million barrels a day, compared with 2.6 million before U.S. troops entered Iraq in March 2003 . . .

Iraqis nationwide receive on average less than 12 hours of power a day. For residents of Baghdad, it was six hours a day last month, according to a U.S. count, though many residents say that figure is high.

The Americans, said Zaid Saleem, 26, who works at a market in Baghdad, "are the best in destroying things but they are the worst in rebuilding. . ."

The heavy emphasis on security, and the money it would cost, had not been anticipated in the early months of the U.S. occupation. In January 2004, after the first disbursements of the $18.4 billion reconstruction package, the United States planned only $3.2 billion to build up Iraq's army and police. But as the insurgency intensified, money was shifted from other sectors, including more than $1 billion earmarked for electricity, to build a police force and army capable of combating foreign and domestic guerrillas. . . .

In the process, the United States will spend $437 million on border fortresses and guards, about $100 million more than the amount dedicated to roads, bridges and public buildings, including schools. Education programs have been allocated $99 million; the United States is spending $107 million to build a secure communications network for security forces. . .

[M]oney has gone toward building or renovating 10 medium- and maximum-security prisons -- early plans called for four prisons -- and for detention centers nationwide. . . .

The shifts in allocations have led Stuart Bowen, the inspector general in charge of tracking the $18.4 billion, to talk of a "reconstruction gap," or the difference between what Iraqis and Americans expected from the U.S. reconstruction effort at first and what they are seeing now. . .

"It is easy for the Americans to say, 'We are doing reconstruction in Iraq,' and we hear that. But to make us believe it, they should show us where this reconstruction is," said Mustafa Sidqi Murthada, owner of a men's clothing store in Baghdad. "Maybe they are doing this reconstruction for them in the Green Zone. But this is not for the Iraqis."

"Believe me, they are not doing this," he said, "unless they consider rebuilding of their military bases reconstruction."

Let's ask Condi Rice what she thinks.


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