Friday, October 5, 2007

Corruption that Would Make Mayor Daley Proud

My fair city of Chicago is known as the Windy City. Many people probably don't know that the monicker has nothing to do with the weather. While there is plenty of wind in Chicago, that is not why it is referred to as the Windy City. It first received that monicker because of the corrupt practices of the first Mayor Daley, Mayor Richard J. Daley. In fact, corruption is so prevalent in my fair city that we have a saying, "vote early vote often." Our deceased former mayor, Harold Washington, is known to continue voting in elections, and yes he votes Democrat. Mayor Richard M. Daley has taken the torch from his father corruption wise and run with it. Whether it is the hired truck scandal, police torture, or taking bribes for city contracts, corruption is so prevalent it is just a way of doing business here.

Well, it seems the Maliki government is trying to give Daley a run for his money curruption wise, and they are doing a "good" job of it. Newsmax picks up the story.

Widespread corruption in Iraq stretches into the government of Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki, an Iraqi investigating judge told U.S. lawmakers on
Thursday, and an American official said U.S. efforts to combat the problem are

Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who was named by the United States in 2004 to
head the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, said his agency estimated
corruption had cost the Iraqi government up to $18 billion.

Maliki has shielded relatives from investigation and allowed government
ministers to protect implicated employees, said the judge, who left Iraq in
August after threats against him. He told a Capitol Hill hearing that 31
employees of his agency had been killed.

Radhi said he did not have evidence against Maliki personally, but the
prime minister had "protected some of his relatives that were involved in

One of these was a former minister of transportation, Radhi told the House
of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Even more disturbing was this. our government responded to it...

A State Department official said Thursday corruption in Iraq was serious,
but he refused to say whether Iraq's prime minister was involved or capable of
addressing the problem.
Larry Butler, deputy assistant secretary of state
for Near East Affairs, told a House committee that divulging such information
could damage U.S. relations _ an assertion that enraged congressional Democrats.

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should know she is on a
collision course with Congress over the public disclosure of corruption in Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government.

''Look at all the people we have in Iraq getting killed, all the billions
of dollars we're spending in Iraq,'' said Waxman, D-Calif.

''The American people are asking: What are we doing and what are the
chances of success? How are we going to have any chances of success if there's
corruption going on in the Maliki government?'' asked Waxman.

Several times at the hearing, Waxman asked Butler whether the U.S.-backed
government had the political will or ability to stop the corruption. Each time,
Butler responded calmly that such information was not for public

Waxman is absolutely right, however I fear that he will use this as a blunt instrument to swing at the administration and further his own anti war cause. Keep in mind that oversight is one of the primary responsibilities of our legislature. It is Waxman's responsibility to make sure the Congress oversees that our tax that is spent is spent in an honest way. While grandstanding in a public hearing is all well and good, Waxman was actually elected to make sure that he comes up with solutions to the problem, not just to use the problem is a political tool.

Douglas Farah explains just how pernicious corruption is

Having covered wars several continents, there has never been an armed
conflict where those in rebellion did not have legitimate concerns, anger and
frustration over the level of corruption and impunity for the corruption, in the
regimes they were fighting.

The apparently rampant corruption in Iraq, mostly stealing U.S. taxpayer
money, not only cheats us, but is one of the most helpful elements to all the
different insurgencies operating in that country.

Nothing undermines the legitimacy of a government than widespread
corruption and the tolerance of corruption by that government’s backers. This
was true in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory
Coast, the DRC, Angola, etc. etc. Corruption and impunity from that corruption
are cancers that destroy one’s allies and strengthens ones enemies.

Farah is absolutely right, and it should be noted that corruption and third world always, always go hand in hand. In order for Iraq to move forward, this rampant corruption must be controlled. The U.S. State Dept. correctly points out that corruption under Saddam's regime was no better. That may be true however that is like your sixth grader telling you that their F isn't bad since it was no worse than their previous grade. Their is a sytemic thread of corruption that is pervasive not only in Iraq but in the entire Middle East, but if we are to win in Iraq, this corruption must be met head on. If not, this endeavor wll most likely face the same fate of the endeavors Farah pointed out. (The Washington Post adds their two cents if you still aren't convinced)

Now, it is time to act. We can let the pervasive corruption of Iraq become yet another issue that partisans will use to hammer at the other side, or our Congress can actually try and do their jobs. Again, oversight is one of the primary functions of the Congress. Citizens you can do your part. First, please go here and find your Senators. Tell them that sugar coating the corruption does no one any good. Furthermore, tell them that using the corruption as yet another partisan issue does even less good. It is time that the Senate does their jobs. They need to find solutions to this problem, not just grand stand and demonize. When you are done there, go here and find your Representative and tell them the same. It's time we all demand something more than business as usual not only in Washington but in Baghdad. As for Chicago, that maybe a lost cause.


Todd Anthony said...

Good job, Mike...very well-written. You get my vote on RCP.

mike volpe said...

Thanks Toddy, but don't just vote. Act. Email your legislators and tell them to act, not just grandstand. Links are included.