Iraq Firing Corruption Watchdogs

Up to 17 officials dismissed as cost of fraud hits $13B
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2008 6:00 AM CST
In Baghdad, hundreds of employees of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity and the Union of Technicians demanded the resignation of the Electricity Minister accusing ministry officials of corruption.    (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed )
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(Newser) – After the invasion of Iraq, the American transitional administration installed dozens of anticorruption officials to bring order to the nation's bureaucracy. But in recent months the Iraqi government has systematically fired these inspectors without making any public announcement, reports the New York Times. Only recently a senior Iraqi official testified before Congress that $13 billion in American investment has been lost in Iraq to fraud, embezzlement, and waste.

The exact number of dismissals is unknown; estimates range from just a handful to 17. The secrecy surrounding the firings supports the view of some in the government that political machinations are at play. One MP said that the Maliki government is transforming the watchdogs into collaborators: "They want it to become a political appointment. They are trying to restrict anticorruption efforts all over the country."