Shooting the Watchdogs

US stops audit of Iraq rebuilding

A US government agency that has exposed corruption in Iraqi reconstruction projects will close in 2007.

Washington lawmakers have reacted with shock at the discovery that an obscure clause in a military spending bill will terminate the work of the auditor.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has embarrassed the US administration with its reports on corrupt practices.

Critics of the government claim this is what lies behind its sudden closure.

Dogged investigator

Under the direction of Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen, the Office employs 55 auditors and inspectors.

His office has detailed successes among the many reconstruction projects, such as in the rebuilding of infrastructure essential for transport and education.

However, critics of President George W Bush’s Iraq policy seized on the auditor’s conclusion that the overall $20bn (£11.5bn) reconstruction effort was being hampered by inefficiency as well as attacks by insurgents.

The auditor recently reported that a subsidiary of Halliburton, the largest US civilian contractor in Iraq, had withheld information from US officials.

It said that KBR, formerly Kellogg Brown & Root, had systematically engaged in practices aimed at veiling the facts around its contracts.

Read all of it here.

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