It's Time For Congress To Pull Tighter The Purse Strings For Iraq Money
While Rummy blames Congress for lagging funding to train Iraqis and Afghan soldiers and police, and Bush says we’ll stand down when the Iraqis are trained and can stand on our own, a new report from the Congressional Research Service indicates that the Pentagon and Bush Administration isn’t spending the money Congress has appropriated for such training and transfer-of-responsibility activities.
The U.S. military has spent just 40 percent of the $7 billion appropriated in 2005 for the training of Iraqi and Afghanistan security forces, a top Pentagon priority that is lynchpin for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The slow pace of spending was outlined in a congressional report that also raised questions about whether the Pentagon needs the full $5.9 billion it has requested for training this year in an emergency spending bill that is pending in Congress.
In a report obtained by The Associated Press, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said the Pentagon is spending at a slower rate than Defense Department officials initially expected. As of Jan. 1, the report said, the Pentagon had allocated $2.1 billion, or just 37 percent, of the $5.7 billion in Iraqi training funds for the 2005 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.Again, that money is still unspent in last year’s budget. This hasn’t stopped Rummy from blaming others once again for his own failings.
In a radio interview last week, Rumsfeld complained about the difficulty in getting Congress to quickly approve funds to help develop the Iraqi and Afghan armies and police.
“Our government and our Congress are not really organized effectively to build partner nation capabilities,” the defense secretary told WTN in Nashville, Tenn. “We can sustain financially five or six or seven or eight Afghan or Iraqi soldiers for the expense of one of ours, and yet we have a terrible time getting approval through the Congress to use some of the funds to develop the capacity.”
No, I would say that it is soley this Administration that isn't organized effectively to build partner nation capabilities, or motivated to do so. Exactly how committed are Rummy and Bush to getting out of Iraq if they are dragging their feet on training the Iraqis to stand up for themselves? It's no surprise to find out today that everything Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld have said about our desire to train the Iraqis and give them the responsibility has been just another lie in a long list of lies from this criminal gang.
And it is well past time for Democrats to blame a GOP rubber stamp Congress for allowing this administration to shovel $6-8 billion a month towards a permanent presence in Iraq without any commitment to eventually get out.
Image courtesy of MSNBC.com