$75M Iraq Project Called A 'Disaster'

Iraq's police play a critical role in determining when U.S. troops can start going home, so when recruits were graduating from the Baghdad Police College last month, American officials highlighted it as a big success.

Today, the construction of that same police college — crucial to the U.S. strategy in Iraq — has been called "a disaster" by independent U.S. investigators, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports. Investigators said in a report that poor contract work and substandard plumbing has caused human waste to cascade through student barracks and resulted in leaks that have threatened the structural integrity of the rooms, posing a serious health threat to recruits.

At a congressional hearing on Thursday, the U.S. auditor responsible for the report said $75 million in taxpayer money was paid to U.S. construction giant Parsons Corpoartion for the project.

"This performance is not major league, it's bush league," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.

CBS News was scheduled to accompany the U.S. Inspector General on his tour of the Baghdad Police College last week, but was barred from doing so by the U.S. military.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for overseeing construction projects across Iraq, including the police college, shares the blame with Parsons, according to the Inspector General.

"There were supposed to be 142 clinics and two are operational," Inspector General Stuart Bowen says.

Parsons also received the $500 million contract for those clinics.

Total U.S. reconstruction money for Iraq stands at $30 billion, but progress has been painfully slow. In Baghdad, people say the United States has promised them electricity, water, and a better life — and that it lied because they haven't received any of this.

"$6 billion had to be moved out of reconstruction into security. Security is job one, and until relative stability is achieved, significant progress can't be made in the overall reconstruction program," Bowen says.

It's that need for security on the streets of Iraq that made the Baghdad Police College so important in the first place.
  • Melissa McNamara

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