• State to Congress: Drop Dead

    June 9, 2011

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Barney Fife Entry into the Foreign Service requires, among other things, that you pass a tough written test, kind of like the SAT, but with less math. To help any readers thinking of joining State, here is a sample question. Let’s see how you do:

    You are in charge of the State Department during a rough budget climate. Your organization has few friends on the Hill, and you are going to be asking for a lot more money for your new duties in Iraq. One project you need cash for– say a billion dollars– is training Iraqi police. The military has done the job for the past seven years, but it will soon be State’s problem to resolve. Do you:

    a) Pick a turf fight with the well-regarded US government’s independent auditor for Iraqi reconstruction and force a showdown in front of an already angry Congress;

    b) Expect you’ll lose that fight and go along with the inspection to avoid further damaging your cred on the Hill;

    c) After pulling your head out of your own butt, try to get reassigned to the consular office in Bali and change your name.

    I’m not sure what the correct answer is on the test, but in real life the State Department chose A, have a figth with Congress.

    Someone at State, possibly still suffering from a bad batch of anti-malarials, has refused the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) permission to audit the police training mission. The US has spent billions training Iraqi police since 2003, hoping to change them from bribe taking street thugs into smiling law enforcement professionals. The Iraqis have proved, um, resistant to change and little has been accomplished outside the hemorrhaging of US money into the hands of Dynacorp, the contractor designated by the USG to steal all that money.

    The US government has spent $7.3 billion for training Iraqi police since 2003. Some 400,000 Iraqis received training and are on the force, but the “capabilities of these forces are unknown because no assessments of total force capabilities were made.”

    State says the Department regards SIGIR jurisdiction as limited to “reconstruction” activities, as opposed to “technical assistance and capacity-building” that the State Department will run after the military mission in Iraq ends on October 1.

    SIGIR is not going away. Their boss said “We are going to try and engage with the State Department and make the case why our statute and past practice demonstrably supports our jurisdiction over the police-development program. I hope they will see the correctness of our position and allow this audit to go forward. If they don’t agree, then I think the Hill might intervene further.”

    On March 31, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote a letter urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to cooperate with SIGIR’s request for information.

    State said no anyway. Oops, make that, Hell No.



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