Friday, July 27, 2012

Did the US government have 1.5 billion to throw away?

As noted July 24th,   Reuters quoted  the ridiculous White House flack Jay Carney declaring, "The fact that there remains violence in Iraq is certainly the case, and we condemn these attacks, but it is also the case that the Iraqi security forces have been trained up and do have the capacity to handle their own security,"  And we asked then why so much money was being wasted.

Today the press suddenly cares about lives.

When the press cares about lives, be very concerned.  When the press that's ignored the dead repeatedly -- including the US deaths -- suddenly cares about human life, be very concerned.  They didn't give a damn when Carl Hall III died earlier this month, from wounds received while serving in Iraq ("Another US service member dead from the Iraq War").  Now all the sudden, they can't shut up about the number of deaths in Iraq through reconstruction based on something the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued -- and they rush so that they actually misreport his findings?

What's with their sudden concern for human life?

"Status of Fixcal Years 2011-2012 Iraq Security Forces Fund (SIGIR 12-018)" [PDF format warning, click here] may have something to do with it.  Released today by the SIGIR, this letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillar Clinton notes the money given (wasted) by US taxpayers for Iraq's security forces to be trained: "To date, Congress has appropriated $20.54 billion in ISFF.  This includes $1.50 billion Congress appropriated in April 2011 for use in fiscal years (FY) 2011 and 2012."  

You learn about how freely the government spent the taxpayer money.  So freely, that they gave more than even they thought could be spent which is why: "Congress specified the period of time each ISFF appropriation could be used.  In each case, Congress made the funds available for periods between 12 and 19 months, during which time funds would have to be obligated.  Any funds not obligated with their designated period of availability would be considered expired and, therefore, not available for new obligations."

Nancy Pelosi kept using the "blank check" metaphor even after many of us thought the then-Speaker sounded ancient and ourselves were referring to it as the administration using Congress as its own personal ATM.  But Pelosi ends up right and we (including me) end up wrong because it was indeed a blank check.  And it was blank check under Bush and a blank check under Barack.  

While Americans domestically struggled with historic levels of unemployment, with losing their houses and so much more,  the Congress and the White House were so eager to give Iraq billions for 'security forces' that they realized they might be giving more than was needed so they tacked on that if the funds were not "obligated" within X number of months, the US would get them back.

And some may wrongly think that means, "Well, Iraq didn't spend X so we're getting that back.  Yea!"  Wrong.  "Spent" is not "obligated."  

"Obligated" means they say it will be spent on, for example, "forensic training."  

Will be.  Not has been spent.

This is made clear in the letter:  "However, un-obligated funds can be used for up to five years after they expire to pay for authorized increases to existing obligations made from the same appropriation.  Any un-obligated funds remaining after the five-year period must be returned to the U.S. Treasury."

So the White House and the Congress (then Democratically controlled, both houses) made the decision not only to give Iraq more money than was needed, they also said, "Hey, screw the American taxpayers and their needs, if you can't spend this money in the Fiscal Year, just say you will someday spend it on something and we'll let you have it for up to five years, interest free."

$20.54 billion US tax dollars wasted.


That's my call.

Not just because, clearly, there is no security in Iraq.

But $20 billion dollars?  Do we not get how outrageous that figure is?

The CIA estimates the Iraqi population to be 31.1 million.  (Iraq hasn't had a census since the 90s.)  Let's make this really simple so no one struggles with the math.  But to make it really simple, let's pretend that 11.1 million Iraqis are not security forces which would mean 20 million were.

If they had that large number, that would mean that one billion dollars -- $1,000,000,000 -- was spent on each member of the Iraqi security force.

Iraq has much, much less tha 20 million security forces.

When the US government refers to Iraq's "security forces," they are only speaking of the number employed by the central government out of Baghdad. So all of this money has just spent on the national forces.

How many people are we talking about when we refer to Iraq's security forces?

By September 2007, according to Brookings, they had 359,700.  Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post noted that then-top US commander in Iraq Gen David Petraeus was using a higher figure of 445,000 at that same time and that this "suggest[s] he was including every person employed by the ministries in an effort to promote the size and capability of security forces that many experts say are plagued by absenteeism, attrition and sectarianism."  Last December 7th, Luis Martinez (ABC News) reported US Lt Gen Frank Helmick had stated in the US military's "last briefing from Iraq" that Iraq's security forces number 700,000.

Not even a million.

Since the start of US tax payers footing the bill to train Iraq security forces, 20.54 billion has been spent for what is now a force of 700,000.

Being generous, let's say 300,000 left -- through death or other interests -- and kick that number up to one million.  That would mean $20 billion was spent to train one million.

Iraq is not Malaysia.  It's an oil rich country generating billions each year.  How very fortunate for the US-installed puppet Nouri that these forces he's put under his own command -- not really how the Iraqi Constitution set it out -- were trained on the US tax payer dollar.

Please grasp that this doesn't include the $850 million that the US State Dept requested (and received) for Fiscal Year 2012 to, yes, train Iraq's security forces. And the 'good' news on that money?  The letter explains that, after allocation, "the funds will be deposited into an Iraq FMF account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where the GOI [Government Of Iraq] will decide how to use the funds."

And when you look over how that money's being allocated, you'll see that the US tax payer foots the bill for everything from night vision goggles to "training ammunition."

In other news of the US government wasting tax payer monies, Bahrain News Agency reported yesterday, "Iraq has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), outlining American support for Iraqi efforts to reduce regulatory obstacles in Iraq's private sector."

Now the deaths?  719 people died in Iraq from reconstruction efforts.  Of those, 271 were Iraqis and 130 are 'unknown.'  318 are US deaths but 264 of those are US military deaths which have already been counted in the US military death toll.  Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg News) and Robert Burns (AP) cover the story.

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