Iraq Inspector: U.S. Must Change Course

Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction
Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

It's not what U.S. taxpayers want to hear from the man charged with monitoring how their money was spent in Iraq:

"Billions of dollars were wasted in the Iraqi reconstruction enterprise," said Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

But now, as attention - and more tax dollars - are turned to Afghanistan, Bowen warns the U.S. effort there is headed the same way, reports CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan.

"Thirty-two billion dollars later, we don't know a whole lot about what's happened to that money," Bowen said.

It's so critical that the Bowen was called in by the Obama administration, within a week of the inauguration.

"We had meetings over there on specifically how the Iraq lessons apply to Afghanistan," Bowen said.

"So that's a particular concern right now?" Logan asked.

"Number one, I would say, yes," Bowen said.

Number one because Iraq's reconstruction has been a disaster and the new administration knows they have to make dramatic changes or Afghanistan will be even worse.

"Be sure that you're building to the need of the local level," said Bowen, who warned that if that was not done, the reconstruction would fail.

Bowen knows all about the failures in U.S. reconstruction efforts. In Iraq, he's done over 300 investigations and more than 250 audits and inspections, getting out across the country. He was shocked by what he found:

"You have multiple departments carrying out similar missions without effective communication," Bowen said. "You get redundancy, you get waste, and you hinder the U.S. mission."

"The bottom line is the U.S. has to change the way they do business in reconstruction, the system is flawed?" Logan asked.

"That's exactly right," Bowen said.

The challenge now is to apply those lessons from Iraq to the even greater needs in Afghanistan.

  • Lara Logan
    Lara Logan

    Lara Logan's bold, award-winning reporting from war zones has earned her a prominent spot among the world's best foreign correspondents. Logan began contributing to 60 Minutes in 2005.