Crime and Corruption in Iraq
by David Corn

As Congress prepares to receive reports on Iraq from General David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker — and readies for a debate on George W. Bush’s latest funding request of $50 billion for the Iraq war — the performance of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a central and contentious issue. But according to the working draft of a secret document prepared by the US embassy in Baghdad, the Maliki government has failed in one significant area: corruption. Maliki’s government is “not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anticorruption laws,” the report says, and, perhaps worse, the report notes that Maliki’s office has impeded investigations of fraud and crime within the government.

The draft–over 70 pages long–was obtained by The Nation, and it reviews the work (or attempted work) of the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), an independent Iraqi institution, and other anticorruption agencies within the Iraqi government. Labeled SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED/Not for distribution to personnel outside of the US Embassy in Baghdad, the study details a situation in which there is little, if any, prosecution of government theft and sleaze. Moreover, it concludes that corruption is “the norm in many ministries.”

The report depicts the Iraqi government as riddled with corruption and criminals — and beyond the reach of anticorruption investigators. It also maintains that the extensive corruption within the Iraqi government has strategic consequences by decreasing public support for the US-backed government and by providing a source of funding for Iraqi insurgents and militias.

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