Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Something's Missing!

I love my newspaper in the morning. Beyond the satisfaction it serves up to the news junkie in me, there's the engagement of all senses in the ritual that is coffee, newsprint, reading glasses and my warmest sweater. Suffice it to say, I've never quite understood the pleasure in reading news online. Today, however, I am almost compelled to cancel my subscription to the Austin American Statesman, (which costs me about $20 a month), because no where in my newspaper today - not on page 1, page 21, section A, B, or E - was this headline:
‘US wasted billions in Iraq, Afghanistan’: Congressional report
For most of you, in fact - unless you live in Bangor, Maine - this story is not obvious in your newspaper today. A quick scan of front pages across the nation via Newseum turned up no notice of this story on the front pages of: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, the Bloomington Times Herald, or The Louisville Courier-Journal. So let me tell you the big news today: We've wasted $51-billion dollars in Iraq. An auditor, called the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, delivered a 250,000 page audit to Congress yesterday titled, "Hard Lessons." His name is Stuart Bowen, and he absolutely had some bad news for lawmakers:
  • $50+ billion dollars has been funneled to private contractors in Iraq with little government oversight, and that has led to massive fraud and very little progress
  • The US has spent 25 times more than pre-war planners envisioned for reconstruction in Iraq, and Bowen calls the effort a "massive failure"
One shining example is a maximum security prison we're building in the Iraqi province of Diyala. The Iraqis call it "the whale." The Whale has cost us $40-million dollars to date, and will cost at least $33-million more to complete. Bowen says it will probably never house an inmate. I think it's important for us to have this information. Perhaps we don't need to continue to fan the flame of "WTF?" with regard to George W. Bush and his host of unbelievable failures, but we do need to keep a fire burning in our bellies over decisions being made on our behalf, with our tax dollars, by our elected representatives in Washington, DC. Don't get me started on what $50-billion might have bought us elsewhere in the world...in the name of peace. So, if your newspaper failed you today, write a letter to the editor. And, consider this a heads up. General Bowen told the bipartisan commission looking into wartime contracting problems that we're about to make the same mistakes in Afghanistan. Peace.

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