U.S. Reps. Henry
Waxman and Tom
Lantos, both California Democrats, have asked that the House Committee on
Government Reform hold hearings into why $8.8 billion in Development Funds for Iraq
were not properly accounted for by the Coalition Provisional Authority that had
been headed by Ambassador Paul Brenner.
Lantos and Waxman made the request in a Jan. 31 letter to the committee's
chairman, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virg.) following the release of a report by the
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction on what it described as
"severe inefficiencies" and "poor management" in the
disbursement of the funds. They noted that $8.8 billion "represents
two-thirds of the total amount of Iraqi funds expended by the Bush
Administration during its tenure as sovereign of Iraq."
The two congressman urged that the Inspector General, Brenner, and North Star
Consultants, Inc., which provided accounting services, be asked to testify
to the committee concerning disbursement practices that the Inspector General's
report described as open to the possibility of "fraud, kickbacks, and
misappropriation of funds."
They also asked that the Government Reform Committee look into the question of
whether the results of the Special Inspector General's study were withheld until
after both the U.S. and Iraqi elections for political purposes.
They noted that "five different congressional committees, including ours,
are now investigating allegations of impropriety in the U.N. Oil for Food
program," the predecessor to the Development Fund for Iraq. (DFI)
"These high-profile investigations have garnered significant press
attention, and some members of Congress have called for the resignation of
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Given that the Inspector General's report
faults the Bush Administration for failing to account for nearly $9 billion in
Iraqi funds under DFI, our Committee also has a responsibility to investigate
and hold accountable U.S. government officials responsible for these