David Satterfield, reality. Reality, David Satterfield. Glad you could meet one another.
After weeks of silence and obfuscation
on the extent of corruption in Iraq, Satterfield, one of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's top Iraq advisers, finally admitted what has been clear to unbiased observers
for a long time: Iraq is really, really corrupt. Satterfield bowed
to the unfortunate fact of corruption in Iraq during a conference call with reporters yesterday.
"Corruption is a reality in Iraq," the department's Iraq policy coordinator, David M. Satterfield, said. "Iraqis at every level have failed to put the nation's interests ahead" of their own and those of their religious, ethnic and tribal affiliations, he said.
State's refusal to discuss corruption in Iraq has reached absurdity in recent weeks. First
, House oversight committee chairman Henry Waxman accused State's inspector-general, Howard "Cookie" Krongard, of scuttling corruption investigations. Then
he accused Krongard of retaliating against some of the whistleblowers in Krongard's office who alerted his staff to the alleged malfeasance. State also took the weird step
of reclassifying a publicly available documents from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad running down the list of corrupt institutions in and around the Maliki government. And for good measure
, at a hearing that featured a former Iraqi corruption judge describing how his colleagues have been tortured and murdered for their work, a State official meekly commented that he would rather discuss Iraqi corruption in a closed session.
But don't expect a new era of openness from State over the corruption problem. According to Satterfield, secrecy is integral to State's anti-corruption strategy. That's what led to the reclassification of the embassy document:
The analysis, initially labeled "sensitive," has been widely available on the Internet since early last month. Satterfield said it had been "mis-classified" and was unavailable for public distribution. In general, he said, such "internal working papers" and others containing "sensitive information" have to be protected.
Some of them, he said, include "anecdotal accounts of an individual's view of what they believe may be going on with respect to corruption" that had been provided to the embassy "in many cases, completely uncorroborated by us or the Iraqis." He said that sources had to be sheltered and information verified.
"What we wish is to preserve our ability to combat this issue, not to hide it, but to fight it," Satterfield said. "To believe the U.S. government is concealing vital information, some smoking gun . . . is simply not correct."