Tavis Smiley Asks Rep. Waxman Who Is To Blame For Missing Billions In Iraq
By Alan Breslauer on 3/1/2007, 12:23pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

California Representative (and mine) Henry Waxman, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, answers questions about Iraq last night with Tavis Smiley on PBS. After Waxman explains how at least $12 billion allocated for Iraqi reconstruction went missing, an incredulous Smiley states:

Can I ask a real simple question? Who would be in our government, so stuck on stupid, such an idiot, as to fly $12 billion in cash into a war zone.

Waxman lays most of the blame on the Republican-led Congress which failed in its oversight responsibilities. Similarly deplorable is what the reconstruction effort accomplished, considering Iraq's billions and our own additional $20 billion. According to Waxman:

The oil production is behind prewar levels. The electricity doesn't even last eight hours in Baghdad. In some places they have no electricity at all. And electricity is below prewar levels. Even drinking water is not available, and if you are going to measure it, it is not as good as it was before the war.

But while "Iraqis and the American people are not better off" for the war, Waxman does identify one group that has made out extraordinarily well:

But the ones who are really better off are all these contractors. Haliburton, Bechtel, all these different big contractors. They got mega mega monopoly contracts. They subcontracted and the subcontractors subcontracted and there are layers of costs on top of layers of costs. A lot of people made money out this who were the contractors.