Paging Norm Coleman – Norm Coleman to the White Courtesy Phone Please

From Holden:

Here’s a scandal that could make you a political love-god, Norm.

In recent audits and interviews, June 2004 has emerged as a month when money and accountability were thrown out the door. The United States played the role of frenzied shopper, leaving the Iraqis to pay the bill.

More than 1,000 contracts were issued by U.S. officials in June, about double the usual number. Auditors disclosed this month that several U.S. officials are under investigation for possible embezzlement during the June spending blitz.

“There were lots of examples of bad management because of the chaos around the turnover,” said Ginger Cruz, chief of staff for the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, who oversees U.S. spending in Iraq. “There was a greater opportunity for fraud.”

[snip]

[T]the pell-mell effort to spend money in June 2004 helps explain many of the problems in the reconstruction of Iraq, and continues to haunt the United States nearly a year later.

U.S. officials are now unsure whether billions of dollars dispatched to Iraqi ministries to fund reconstruction projects ever reached their final destinations. Schools and hospitals refurbished with hastily issued contracts have again fallen into disrepair. The oil and power industries are in worse shape than during the Saddam Hussein regime.

[snip]

On a single day in May, U.S. and Iraqi officials approved almost $1.9 billion worth of spending, including new oil, security and electricity projects.

Over the next few months, U.S. officials throughout Iraq placed more focus on launching projects, and less on accounting concerns. E-mails, documents and interviews with officials who worked in Iraq at the time portray a mania to move money.

“The Iraqis will be paying for the screw-ups of the CPA for a long time,” said a coalition adviser who requested anonymity. “They have had to unwind what we did in that year, and that has made it tougher for them to recover.”