Bush Adminstration Overlooked Corruption in Iraq?

Do tell. I don’t have much time, so I will just post the article…

Bush administration is accused of overlooking rampant corruption in Iraqi government

By ANNE FLAHERTY

The Associated Press

The Bush administration repeatedly disregarded corruption at the highest levels within the Iraqi government and kept secret potentially embarrassing information, two former State Department employees say.

Arthur Brennan, who briefly served in Baghdad as head of the departments Office of Accountability and Transparency last year, and James Mattil, who was the chief of staff, told Senate Democrats on Monday that their office was understaffed and that its warnings and recommendations were ignored.

Brennan also alleges the State Department prevented a congressional aide visiting Baghdad from talking with staffers by insisting they were too busy. In reality, Brennan said, office members were watching movies at the embassy and on their computers. The staffers workload had been cut dramatically because of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malikis evisceration of Iraqs top anti-corruption office, he said.

The State Departments policies not only contradicted the anti-corruption mission but indirectly contributed to and has allowed corruption to fester at the highest levels of the Iraqi government, Brennan told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

The U.S. Embassys effort against corruption including its new centerpiece, the now-defunct Office of Accountability and Transparency was little more than window dressing,? he added.

Deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the administration took the issue of corruption seriously. He pointed to its recent appointment of Lawrence Benedict, a retired senior career diplomat, as coordinator for anti-corruption initiatives at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The Office of Accountability and Transparency, or OAT team, was intended to provide assistance and training to Iraqs anti-corruption agencies. It was dismantled last December after it alleged in a draft report leaked to the media that al-Malikis office had derailed or prevented investigations into Shiite-controlled agencies.

Brennan charges the State Department never responded to his teams report, which was retroactively classified because agency officials said it could hurt bilateral relations with Iraq. Other recommendations by the group also were kept secret, including a negative assessment of Iraqs Joint Anti-Corruption Committee, Brennan said.

But information later released by the embassy ignored the teams assessment and ultimately failed to even mention what a disaster the committee really was, Brennan said.

Brennan said he approved the embassy report against his better judgment but later regretted it.

Mattil, who worked with Brennan, made similar allegations. Specifically, he said the Bush administration remained silent in the face of an unrelenting campaign by senior Iraqi officials to subvert Baghdads Commission on Public Integrity. Then the United States turned its back on Iraqis who fled to America after being threatened for pursuing anti-corruption cases, he said.