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The World

Report details waste in Iraq totaling millions

January 31, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government wasted tens of millions of dollars in Iraq reconstruction aid, including scores of unaccounted-for weapons and an unused camp for housing police trainers that has an Olympic-size swimming pool, investigators say.

The quarterly audit by Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, is the latest to paint a grim picture of waste, fraud and frustration in an Iraq war and reconstruction effort that has cost taxpayers more than $300 billion.

"The security situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, hindering progress in all reconstruction sectors and threatening the overall reconstruction effort," according to the 579-page report, which was being released today.

The report says the State Department paid $43.8 million to contractor DynCorp International to build the residential camp for police trainers outside Baghdad's Adnan Palace grounds that has stood empty for months. About $4.2 million of the money was improperly spent on 20 VIP trailers and an Olympic-size pool, all ordered by the Iraqi Interior Ministry but never authorized by the United States.

U.S. officials spent an additional $36.4 million on armored vehicles, body armor and communications equipment that can't be accounted for.

Responding in the report, the State Department said that it was working to improve controls.

A spokesman for DynCorp, Greg Lagana, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Bowen's office, which was nearly eliminated last month by Republicans in Congress, launched 27 criminal inquiries in the last quarter, bringing the total of active cases to 78.

Twenty-three are awaiting prosecutorial action by the Justice Department, most of them centering on charges of bribery and kickbacks.

Still, "fraud has not been a significant component of the U.S. experience in Iraq," Bowen said.

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