You'd think that an Iraqi anti-corruption crusader who testified
before Congress about his travails would find no great difficulty in obtaining asylum in the United States. You'd think the U.S. would be grateful for the news that $18 billion worth of corruption had virtually "stopped" reconstruction in Iraq. But not so much.
Former State Department officials told Congress
earlier this week that, though Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, the former head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, was able to get access into the U.S., he is not allowed to work and is living hand to mouth. Why has he fallen through the cracks?
It's always a toss-up between negligence/incompetence and malfeasance with this administration. On the negligence side of things, you have the disastrously impenetrable immigration system, which has allowed so few Iraqis to come to the U.S. As The New York Times reports today
, U.S. soldiers have actually set up organizations to help their interpreters gain asylum, since the Iraqis, even though they face certain threat of death for collaborating with American forces, cannot navigate the system on their own. As one Army captain tells it, interpreters are required to produce a letter from a general, which he said was "like a junior associate at a Fortune 500 company asking the chief executive for a letter of recommendation."
But then there's the malfeasance side of things. One of the former officials testified that "a senior State Department official had ordered agency employees not to give al Radhi references or contact him" for help with his asylum.
That might have a lot to do with the trouble that Radhi gave Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the administration. Like pointing out that corruption ran rampant under Maliki and that he'd jiggered the system so that corruption judges could not bring charges against any of his senior officials without his approval -- that was a decree on which Secretary of State Rice refused to pass judgment
when she testified late last year. Rice also refused to comment
on Radhi's many accusations.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) declared at the hearing early this week that he is "going to ask the State Department what in the hell are they thinking." Somehow I don't think Rice will be any more forthcoming this time around.