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Klobuchar Denounces Flagrant Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars by Iraqi Government

Press Release

Date: Sept. 22, 2008
Location: Washington, DC


Klobuchar Denounces Flagrant Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars by Iraqi Government

Minnesota Professor who Held Cabinet Position in Iraq Testifies Before Committee

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar said this week that the Iraq government, mired in crime and corruption, is wasting billions of dollars from American taxpayers and called on the Administration to reform its oversight procedures to root out waste in the Iraqi government. Saying that corruption has eroded public confidence in the Iraqi government and U.S. diplomatic officials in Iraq and aided insurgents in Iraq, Klobuchar called for a greater commitment to transparency and accountability.

"After more than five years in Iraq, we are still receiving reports that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars sent to Iraq for reconstruction projects are still being wasted or stolen,'' Klobuchar said. "It is our soldiers on the front lines and the American taxpayers at home who are suffering the costs.''

Klobuchar questioned witnesses at a hearing called by the Democratic Policy Committee hearing to examine corruption in the Iraqi government and the failure of the Administration to battle waste effectively. Two former Iraqi government officials testified that corruption in the Iraqi government is widespread and being covered-up by the Iraqi government. The former Chief Investigator for the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity testified that corrupt Iraqi officials stole hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars and diverted funds to al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq.

St. Cloud State Professor Abbas Mehdi testified about corruption he witnessed while serving as Chairman of the Board of the Iraqi government's National Investment Commission, a cabinet-level position in the Maliki government. Mehdi, who was born in Iraq and currently lives in Minnesota, testified that based on his experience, a significant percentage of Iraqi government officials are involved in corruption.

A whistleblower who served as a senior advisor to the U.S. government in Iraq testified that corrupt Iraqi officials are actively undermining U.S. reconstruction efforts. The former official, who asked that his name be withheld to ensure his safety, detailed the fraud behind one of the biggest examples of wasted money in the reconstruction effort, the never-finished prison construction project in Kahn Bani Sa'ad, which has cost American taxpayers over $40 million. The facility, which was supposed to house 3,600 inmates, was built by the U.S. over objections by the Iraqi government that it was not needed. The unfinished project, now abandoned, sits unused in the desert.

In March the former head of Iraq's Integrity Commission estimated that as much as $18 billion in reconstruction funding has been lost to corruption.

Klobuchar has supported the formation of a Wartime Contracting Commission to examine fraud and abuse in U.S. spending in Iraq. Last year Congress passed legislation authorizing the commission, but the Administration has not established one.

"We're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq," Klobuchar said. "The American taxpayers expect that the necessary accountability, oversight and reform are taking place to protect their tax dollars.''


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