Iraq: No Oil for War...

| Mon Jul. 17, 2006 7:06 PM EDT

Washington Post: Government Accoutablility Office chief David M. Walker told Congress last week that "massive corruption" and "a lot of theft" in Iraq's government-controlled oil industry is not exactly helping matters in that country. He said it took him "a second and a half" to figure this out, seeing as how "the numbers just didn't add up."

Oil production is below pre-war levels, thanks to the insurgency and attendant difficulties in maintaining infrastructure, and apparently about 10 percent of Iraq's refined fuels and 30 percent of its imported fuels are being stolen.

The GAO had been asked to ascertain, in the words of Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn), "whether we had and have a strategy and to what extent that strategy is meeting the needs of our engagement in Iraq." Doesn't look like it.

The GAO report criticized the administration's strategy for not identifying which U.S. agencies are responsible for implementation, for not integrating U.S. goals and objectives with the Iraqi government and for failing to identify future costs.

A big mistake, says the GAO, was to assume oil revenues would pay for the invasion/occupation/reconstruction of Iraq. In the immortal words of Paul Wolfowitz in March 2003, "The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years. Now, there are a lot of claims on that money, but...We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." Well, as Bush admonished at his press conference with Vladimir Putin last week, "Just wait."

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