Monday, November 05, 2007

Other Items

Two truths have emerged from Iraq in recent months. First, corruption is so pervasive in Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government that political progress in Iraq may be impossible. Second, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and our embassy in Baghdad are inexplicably neglecting this corrosive threat.
Confronting these facts is difficult. Nearly 4,000 American soldiers have been killed and another 28,000 wounded in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. No one wants to believe that these sacrifices were made to establish and support a regime riddled with fraud and graft. But as President Bush asks for an additional $153 billion for the war, we can't shrink from this reality.
Hearings in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, of which I am chairman, have revealed a devastating cycle of corruption. Rampant theft in Iraqi ministries undermines political reconciliation and diverts billions of dollars from the rebuilding effort. Even worse, the stolen money funds terrorists who attack our troops.
Yet no one in our government is holding Iraqi ministers to account.

The above is from Henry Waxman's "Is Maliki's corruption worth American lives?" in this morning's Los Angeles Times. And you can click here to access streaming video of Condi Rice's attempts to deny documented corruption while testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Waxman chairs the committee) on October 25th.

Meanwhile, Allen Pizzey (CBS News) tries to get a handle on the situation in Iraq with mixed results:

Over the weekend the Iraqi government announced that more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods by sectarian violence have returned to their homes in the past three months. On the other hand the Iraqi Red Crescent Society will release a report this week showing that the number of IDPs, internally displaced persons, in Iraq now tops 2.3 million, an increase of 16 percent in the last 30 days. Sixty-five percent of them are children. One reason for the decline in civilian deaths is undoubtedly that fewer people are dying in sectarian violence because there are fewer mixed neighborhoods left to fight over. It has also helped that radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr declared a ceasefire and called his forces off the street, a situation he may just as easily be able to reverse.

You really have had to been sleeping throughout the Iraqi refugee crisis to pen something like the above. The return numbers are questionable just because Iraq is not officially tracking the numbers. It's equally true that report after report (whether mainstream press or relief agency) has noted returning to Iraq is based upon one thing and one thing only -- running out of money.

Lewis notes Lauren Frayer's "Iraq: Nearly 2.3 Million Displaced" (AP):

The number of internally displaced people, or IDPs, in Iraq grew by 16 percent in September — to 2,299,425, the Red Crescent said. That figure has skyrocketed since the beginning of 2007, when less than half a million people were listed as displaced.
More than 83 percent of those displaced are women and children under the age of 12, the report said.
Four and a half years after the U.S.-led invasion, the Iraqi government struggles to provide basic services -- water, electricity and access to schools and medical care -- to citizens across the country. Much of Iraq, especially the capital, is beset by violence, crumbling infrastructure and rampant crime, and most humanitarian groups are unable to reach victims who need help.

Swiping from the report Ruth did Saturday:

"The sixth and final hearing," as the PDF format announcement words it, will take place next Friday, November the 9th, in Seattle, Washington. The timing is four p.m. to eleven p.m. and the location is Town Hall Seattle on 1119 Eight Avenue.

That's Friday and it's been hastily called with litte notice and less publicity. Julia reminds me I forgot to note the content at The Third Estate Sunday Review yesterday:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week (Readers' Choice)
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: "The surge" has worked?
TV: Beware the Reaper
NYT: "Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq"
1 Book, 10 Minutes
It is not and has never been about "our freedoms"
Like a two-year-old, Karen Hughes keeps waving bye-bye
FCC hearing in Seattle Friday
The US State Department wants your feedback
TESR Exclusive! Condi filming musical!
Nader and McKinney

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