No One’s Watching the Contracts?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

I don’t even know what to say about this:

The chief Pentagon agency in charge of investigating and reporting fraud and waste in Defense Department spending in Iraq quietly pulled out of the war zone a year ago – leaving what experts say are gaps in the oversight of how more than $140 billion is being spent.

Apparently the Pentagon hasn’t had an inspector general watching things in Iraq for over six months. Of course, the last inspector general, Joseph Schmitz—a self-described “conservative activist”—wasn’t exactly known for his eagle eyes, spent most of his time defending Halliburton, arguing that the companies problems were “not out of line with the size and scope of their contracts.” (Schmitz eventually resigned after becoming the focus of a congressional inquiry into whether he blocked two criminal investigations over the Pentagon’s crooked air-tanker deal with Boeing; he now works for Blackwater USA, a private security contractor operating in Iraq.) In a sane world, Schmitz would have been replaced with someone who was able to do their job. Not, obviously, the world we live in.

UPDATE: More, from the Washington Post:

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, [told Congress that] administration promises to use $18 billion Congress allocated to rebuild water, electricity, health and oil networks to prewar levels or better are running into cold reality. “We are going to provide something less than that,” he said….

The hearing came with uncertainty over who will be watching over future spending in Iraq. Bowen’s office could disappear as soon as next year, though pending legislation would extend its life. Krongard said he has not yet received funding for 2006 to provide oversight in Iraq. And the Defense Department’s acting inspector general, Thomas F. Gimble, revealed that his office does not have a single staff member in Iraq.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend