The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

Annals of Outrage II

United States General Accounting Office seal. GAO.
This weblog was written by Katrina Vanden Heuvel.
In January, I wrote my first Annals of Outrage weblog about the waste, fraud and abuse that the Bush Administration has perpetrated against the US taxpayer. But so much has happened in just the last three months -- a cornucopia of corruption stemming, in large part, from the war in Iraq and the growing scandal that is Rumsfeld's Department of Defense -- that I felt the time had arrived to do another top ten list of the most serious GAO and Inspector Generals' (IG) reports that have recently become available. It's a bracing series of studies, revealing the ever-widening scandals in this post-9-11, say-and-do-anything political environment. Happy Reading.

1) Halliburton Redux: The revelations seem to never stop when it comes to the Defense Department's favorite corporate client, Halliburton. In April, Henry Waxman released summaries of five reports in which the Defense Contract Audit Agency cited as questionable $212 million that Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root spent in Iraq under a no-bid contract. The money given to Halliburton by Defense was part of a $1.69 billion no-bid contract awarded the company. The auditors told the Army that it should withhold some of Halliburton's money. The Army refused. Halliburton continues to do its work and make millions in Iraq.

2) Democracy in the Middle East: Iraq is a "free-fraud zone." That's the description that a brave whistleblower Frank Willis -- who had served as a senior advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq -- called Iraq a few weeks ago. It's hard to know where to begin. The scope of the corruption beyond Halliburton is so widespread and endemic that multiple investigations by the government and non-governmental organizations are underway to see how much the fraud, waste and abuse have cost the US taxpayer. One corruption watchdog organization, Transparency International, reported in March that the US had completely mismanaged Iraq's oil revenues, used "faulty procedures for awarding reconstruction contracts," and that we were now potentially facing "the biggest corruption scandal in history."

In addition to all of the problems associated with Halliburton, our reconstruction efforts have also come under fire from IGs and the GAO because US officials failed to provide the proper training and oversight for private security firms doing contract work in Iraq. CACI International Inc., for instance, had an essentially free hand to conduct interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison. The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction Stuart Bowen reported as well that US officials have been unable to account for how nearly $100 million slated for Iraqi reconstruction projects had been spent. The IG is now investigating whether anyone in the US-led Development Fund for Iraq committed outright fraud.