A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Saturday, November 05, 2005

We owe Iraq money?

AP: U.N. Audit: U.S. Should Repay Iraq $208.5M---

AMMAN, Jordan - A U.N. auditing board has recommended that the United States reimburse Iraq up to $208.5 million for contracting work carried out by KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, in the last two years.

The International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq said in a report that the work, paid for with Iraqi oil proceeds, was either overpriced or done poorly by the Virginia-based company.

Compiled from an array of Pentagon, United States government and private auditors, the report did not specify how or what work has been done poorly.

Halliburton said its subsidiary had cooperated with the auditing process and that questions raised had to do with documentation rather than the costs incurred by the company. It pointed to findings by the Pentagon's Defense Contract Audit Agency.

"Many of DCAA's questions have been about the quality of supporting documentation for costs that KBR clearly incurred," Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said in an e-mailed statement. "Therefore, it would be completely wrong to say or imply that any of these costs that were incurred at the client's direction for its benefit are 'overcharges.'"

The International Advisory and Monitoring Board, which was set up in 2003 to ensure the transparent operation of the development fund, recommended in a statement Friday that "the U.S. Government seek resolution with the Iraqi Government concerning the use of resources ... which might be in contradiction with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483."

That resolution transferred authority for expenditures from Iraq's oil revenue from the United Nations to the Development Fund for Iraq.

The fund was controlled by the United States and Britain, Iraq's occupying powers, until the June 28, 2004, transfer of sovereignty to the new interim government, when it was handed over to Iraq's new leaders.

The report said because the audits were continuing, it was premature to specify how much of the $208,491,382 must ultimately be paid back.

But the board said that once its analysis was completed, it "recommends that amounts disbursed to contractors that cannot be supported as fair be reimbursed expeditiously."
If a private business overcharged the Iraq government, then that business certainly ought to pay Iraq back.

However, the United States owes Iraq no money. How many billions have we already spent on that country and how many more will we spend by the time we are through? This is not to mention the priceless lives of our military, the countless supplies American citizens have sent, and everything we have done for Iraq.

Will they ever pay us back for all we have done?