Nation Nabs an Exclusive: Maliki Gov’t Overrun by Corruption, Unwilling to Change

Capital Gamesman David Corn of The Nation has a noteworthy exclusive. Corn somehow got his hands on an internal report from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad that has this to say about the Maliki government:

…the Maliki government has failed in one significant area: corruption. Maliki’s government is “not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anticorruption laws,” the report says, and, perhaps worse, the report notes that Maliki’s office has impeded investigations of fraud and crime within the government.

The simple fact that there is corruption in Iraq isn’t surprising, I suppose. But this exclusive isn’t all-hat-and-no-cattle. The document Corn nabbed is 70 pages and it’s loaded with details. Corn elaborates:

The report depicts the Iraqi government as riddled with corruption and criminals—and beyond the reach of anticorruption investigators…

“The Ministry of Interior is seen by Iraqis as untouchable by the anticorruption enforcement infrastructure of Iraq,” it says. “Corruption investigations in Ministry of Defense are judged to be ineffectual.” The study reports that the Ministry of Trade is “widely recognized as a troubled ministry” and that of 196 corruption complaints involving this ministry merely eight have made it to court, with only one person convicted.

The Ministry of Health, according to the report, “is a sore point; corruption is actually affecting its ability to deliver services and threatens the support of the government.” Investigations involving the Ministry of Oil have been manipulated, the study says, and the “CPI and the [Inspector General of the ministry] are completely ill-equipped to handle oil theft cases.” There is no accurate accounting of oil production and transportation within the ministry, the report explains, because organized crime groups are stealing oil “for the benefit of militias/insurgents, corrupt public officials and foreign buyers.”

And from there it goes on, with indictments of ministry after ministry (click the link above to survey the full damage). Maliki is a big part of the problem, demonstrating “an open hostility” to externally-led (aka possibly effective) corruption investigations.

Staffers leading corruption investigations “have been ‘accosted by armed gangs within ministry headquarters and denied access to officials and records.’ They and their families are routinely threatened. Some sleep in their office in the Green Zone. In December 2006, a sniper positioned on top of an Iraqi government building in the Green Zone fired three shots at CPI headquarters. Twelve CPI personnel have been murdered in the line of duty.”

So what does this all mean?

Well, it means the Maliki government is rotten to the core and we’re propping it up. It also means that the calls for Maliki’s ouster — from illegitimate and self-serving sources like Iyad Allawi, ironic sources like the neocon right that got us into this mess, and Congressional sources — will only increase.

But is that a good thing? Will switching the head of government in Iraq create positive change or will things remain exactly the same? From Corn’s report, it seems evident that you could do no worse. Actually, the only way to do worse is if you replace Maliki with Allawi, who is an ex-CIA asset and thug with no broad support in Iraq except in old Baath Party quarters. But he’s got lobbyists in Washington, so watch out. In a year’s time, all this corruption will probably be going on under him.