July 11, 2013
A soldier with the 25th Infantry Division takes a break as he observes Iraqi workers renovating a school in Al Awad, Iraq, July 17, 2008.
Fraudulent and wasteful spending in Iraq’s reconstruction projects has cost U.S. taxpayers at least $1.5 billion, a new report says.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported Tuesday that the money was wasted on U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq between 2004 and 2013.
The report urged Congress to create a new agency called the Office for Contingency Operations to prevent future waste and excess.
“If it had existed at the outset of the Iraq program, the United States might have avoided wasting billions of taxpayer dollars,” said the report, titled “Learning From Iraq.”
U.S. reconstruction efforts lacked legitimacy and the support of the Iraqi people, said John Herbst, the director of the Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University in Washington.
“You must have sufficient security before engaging in reconstruction activity,” said Herbst. “That cost us billions of dollars and too many lives.”
In Iraq, the price tag for the war, according to nonpartisan congressional researchers, was at least $806 billion, although that figure doesn’t take into account related expenses such as coming decades of veterans’ benefits and other costs including medical treatment and job retraining for wounded soldiers.
According to a study by Harvard scholar Linda Bilmes in March, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost the U.S. between $4 trillion and $6 trillion in the long term.
An Associated Press analysis in March showed that U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next 100 years.