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Thursday, May 04, 2006

More Good News from Iraq!

...or perhaps not. The Bush administration's commitment to rebuilding Iraq seems to have suffered a wee setback. Yes, another one. It seems we 've spent $243 MILLION to build 150 medical clinics. It's the least we could do. After all, we destroyed so many of the originals.

Still, it seems the Iraqis are not quite thrilled with this effort, "effort" being the key word. It was not much of an effort, I'm afraid. How so? The New York Times reports:
A $243 million program led by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build 150 health care clinics in Iraq has in some cases produced little more than empty shells of crumbling concrete and shattered bricks cemented together into uneven walls, two reports by a federal oversight office have found.

The reports, released yesterday, detail a close inspection of five of the clinics in the northern city of Kirkuk as well as a sweeping audit of the entire program, which began in March 2004 as a heavily promoted effort to improve health care for ordinary Iraqis. The reports say that none of the five clinics in Kirkuk and only 20 of the original 150 across the country will be completed without new financing.

.......Interior photographs of the structures show bare walls made of brick fragments through which sunlight streamed and stairs made of concrete already crumbling into dust.

And when inspectors compared what they saw to progress reports, some of the numbers seemed suspiciously high. One structure, essentially a rickety shell of uneven bricks, had been declared 56 percent complete. The second floor of another shell held up by little more than wooden sticks — a standard method of bracing unfinished floors in Iraq — had been declared half complete.
Why did this happen? The report cites unrealistic time schedules, a lack of oversight , and security concerns:
But the reports' main finding is that lax oversight by the Army corps is responsible for the failure of the overall program. Cowed by security fears that the reports suggest may have been overblown, the corps sometimes inspected the work only through what it called "windshield surveys" — hasty drive-bys.
And, of couse, there is the ever-present stench of corruption. Money was spent, work was not done....perhaps Halliburton has gotten into the medical clinic business?


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