No One’s Watching the Contracts?

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I don’t even know what to say about this:

The chief Pentagon agency in charge of investigating and reporting fraud and waste in Defense Department spending in Iraq quietly pulled out of the war zone a year ago – leaving what experts say are gaps in the oversight of how more than $140 billion is being spent.

Apparently the Pentagon hasn’t had an inspector general watching things in Iraq for over six months. Of course, the last inspector general, Joseph Schmitz—a self-described “conservative activist”—wasn’t exactly known for his eagle eyes, spent most of his time defending Halliburton, arguing that the companies problems were “not out of line with the size and scope of their contracts.” (Schmitz eventually resigned after becoming the focus of a congressional inquiry into whether he blocked two criminal investigations over the Pentagon’s crooked air-tanker deal with Boeing; he now works for Blackwater USA, a private security contractor operating in Iraq.) In a sane world, Schmitz would have been replaced with someone who was able to do their job. Not, obviously, the world we live in.

UPDATE: More, from the Washington Post:

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, [told Congress that] administration promises to use $18 billion Congress allocated to rebuild water, electricity, health and oil networks to prewar levels or better are running into cold reality. “We are going to provide something less than that,” he said….

The hearing came with uncertainty over who will be watching over future spending in Iraq. Bowen’s office could disappear as soon as next year, though pending legislation would extend its life. Krongard said he has not yet received funding for 2006 to provide oversight in Iraq. And the Defense Department’s acting inspector general, Thomas F. Gimble, revealed that his office does not have a single staff member in Iraq.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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