On May 12, the Senate's Democratic Policy Committee heard disturbing testimony from former State Department officials in Iraq, who testified that the State Department turns a blind eye to corruption in the Iraq government, even when that corruption involves American tax dollars and even when there is reason to believe that some of the money, arms, ammunition and equipment stolen winds up in the hands of Iraqi insurgents and militias who are killing American soldiers.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and I are now asking the U.S. Treasury Department to use its authority and resources to track these funds so that we hold those responsible accountable. From the AP report on our request:
Two Democratic senators have asked the Treasury Department to investigate allegations that Iraqi leaders have embezzled or misspent billions of U.S. tax dollars intended for the country's relief and reconstruction.
In a May 20 letter to Stuart Levey, the department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island called the scope of corruption within the Iraqi government staggering.
Levey's office, they said, should examine whether any Iraqi officials have set up bank accounts outside of Iraq "that might contain ill-gotten proceeds."
Citing recent congressional testimony from Arthur Brennan, a former State Department official, the senators said the inspector general of the Iraq's ministry of health had steered as much as $1 billion in medical supplies onto the black market and then pocketed the profits.
According to Brennan, it's likely some of that money is financing insurgent groups such as the Mahdi army, the militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
I talk about the issue in the video below: