There’s another aspect to Iraq rebuilding story

Published 11:10 pm Monday, March 6, 2006

By Staff
The White House proposed spending “only” $100 million for Gulf Coast restoration and $4.2 billion for New Orleans housing.
By comparison, U.S. taxpayers shelled out almost $30 billion so far to rebuild Iraq.
Yet Iraq remains plagued by daily power outages, water supplies and skyrocketing local fuel prices.
Government officials blame insurgents for the combination of drained military resources and an environment too dangerous for any work to proceed smoothly.
A federal report by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction obtained by Time magazine paints a different picture, though.
The report details a litany of blunders and poor planning in Washington that have nothing to do with sectarian violence.
Relying on private contractors with dubious loyalties.
In particular, the report faults the administration for not enlisting any government employees from outside the State or Defense departments.
That meant legions of unqualified people rushing in and putting Iraq on their resumes at overtime rates.
Things could improve.
Two of the report's four recommendations are implemented.
One, the State Department is operating an office, although it is reported to be underfunded by Congress.
Two, that office is coordinating its efforts with the Pentagon.
The report also calls for a “civilian reserve corps” to serve as rebuilding “first responders.”
Civilians remain notably absent in Iraq, with soldiers who lack formal training for such tasks trying nevertheless to fulfill vital non-military jobs.