[color:blue]The trickle of money spent to rebuild Iraq – just $1.1 billion of the $18.4 billion U.S. taxpayers provided – “is an extraordinary ineffective administration procedure,” Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said Wednesday.<br><br>“It is exasperating,” he told two State Department witnesses at a hearing on Iraq reconstruction. “We are failing to fully take advantage of one of our most potent tools to influence the direction of Iraq.”<br><br>Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said the spending pace is “beyond pitiful. Beyond embarrassing. It’s now in the zone of dangerous.”<br><br>Congress approved the $18.4 billion 11 months ago to provide electricity, water, sewer and other services to the country that had been savaged by Saddam Hussein’s reign or bombed during the war. Administration officials said at the time that restoring Iraq’s infrastructure was essential to rebuilding the economy and providing jobs.<br><br>Lugar said he doesn’t disagree that more money is needed for security and that “if $1.8 billion is not enough, you ought to ask for more. You ought to get on with it.”<br><br>“Creating a sovereign, democratic, constitutional and prosperous Iraq deals a blow to terrorists,” Paul Bremer, then-administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, told Congress last year. “It shows you can have freedom and dignity without using truck bombs to slaughter the innocent. It gives the lie to those who describe America as enemies of Islam, enemies of the Arab or enemies of the poor. That is why the president’s request has to be seen as an important element in the global war on terrorism.”<br><br>But now the White House said about 20 percent of that money – $3.46 billion – should be moved to beef up security and law enforcement, however, because violence threatens Iraqi elections that are scheduled for January.<br><br>If Congress doesn’t allow the money to be reallocated, Marc Grossman, a State Department official, said Tuesday, “the short-term stability of Iraq would be compromised, and the longer-term prospects of a free and democratic Iraq undermined.”<br><br>Lugar, whose language is usually diplomatic rather than direct, offered a harsh assessment of the Bush administration’s handling of the reconstruction.<br><br>“We have an emergency problem now,” he said.<br><br>“Why in the world are they taking five, six, seven weeks?” he demanded of the witnesses. “We are in a war.”<br><br>Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the increased violence and the lack of reconstruction are “getting awfully close to creating the conditions for failure like Vietnam.”<br><br>The Bush administration wants to shift $3.46 billion of the reconstruction money earmarked for water and sewer projects and power plants and use the money for heightened security because of the increase in violence. Congress must approve the transfer, and Lugar pointedly asked several times whether the administration has its legislative ducks lined up because Congress is scheduled to adjourn Oct. 8.<br><br>Lugar’s frustration was shared by every senator at the Foreign Relations Committee hearing. They criticized the lack of planning for the post-war reconstruction, the lack of preparation for continued violence, the way the U.S. occupation operation was handled, and the lack of participation in rebuilding costs by other governments.<br><br>“Unless we get a much better handle on it,” said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., “we’re going to lose Iraq.”</font color=blue><br><br>The article is here<br><br>By the way, the 18.4 billion that Mr. Bush can't seem to figure out how to spend is the money because of which Mr. Kerry decided ultimately to vote against the 87 billion dollar appropriation. Seems maybe Mr. Kerry knew what he was doing, eh?<br><br>
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