Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Grand Iraq Failure

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An unpublished federal draft report depicts the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq as a $100 billion failure doomed by bureaucratic infighting, ignorance of basic elements of Iraqi society and waves of violence there, The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions.

The Pentagon issued inflated progress reports to cover up the reconstruction's failure once the effort began to lag, according to the Times, which received copies of the document from two people who had read the draft but were not authorized to comment publicly about it.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is cited as saying, for example, that in the months after the 2003 invasion the Defense Department "kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces -- the number would jump 20,000 a week! 'We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.'"

Powell's contention was supported by both the former ground troops commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, and L. Paul Bremer, the civilian administrator before the Iraqi government takeover in June 2004. Powell declined to comment on his quoted remarks, the Times said.

The report, "Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience," was compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, led by Stuart Bowen Jr., a Republican lawyer who visits Iraq often and maintains a staff of engineers and auditors there, the newspaper said.