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Crocker: Spending Safeguards in Place -- 'To A Degree'
Spencer Ackerman –
Perhaps the most difficult question for Iraq, no matter where you stand on withdrawal, is what happens after the U.S. leaves. Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) asked Amb. Crocker what confidence he had that the Anbar tribal shift against al-Qaeda could take hold in the absence of the U.S., and Crocker answered that the Iraqi government is investing billions in infrastructure development, including in Anbar. Fine, Sununu asked; but what will ensure that the Iraqi government will spend that money?
Crocker's answer: "There are a number of mechanisms Iraq has in place," including inspectors general in the ministries and the Commission on Public Integrity, to guard against corruption. Are they at all competent? "To a degree," Crocker said.
Late last month, David Corn reported on an internal U.S. embassy memorandum calling corruption "the norm" within the Iraqi government. Corruption safeguards, according to the memo, aren't in place "to a degree"; they're entirely overwhelmed by wholesale corruption. That comes from Crocker's own subordinates.
Crocker's fallback position is that the provinces will make "darn sure" they'll get the money. Whether they'll spend it or pocket it is a different story. The lead tribe in Anbar allied with the United States is known for what Time called "highway banditry."