The U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan estimates that up to $60 billion was wasted in fraud, waste, and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Commission has decided the American taxpayers cannot see the details of this fraud against them for twenty years, since the Commission has decided to seal its records until 2031. The reason they gave is the possibility of embarrassment.
Embarrassing State Department and other U.S. officials over the fraud and waste in Iraq was obviously the reason why the State Department has revoked the security clearance and suspended employment of twenty-three year veteran Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren. Van Buren was subject to intense retaliation by the State Department over the publication of his book, "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People."
Van Buren, who was previously assigned to diplomatic outposts in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom, before being assigned to Iraq, witnessed first-hand the squandering of billions of dollars in U.S. cash in Iraq. In one case, the State Department decided to build a chicken processing plant in central Iraq. Local contractors were paid off in cash and a facility was built, but with no chickens. It turns out that while the local sheikhs were not interested in a chicken plant because their local way of preparing chicken dinner, grabbing a chicken from the yard and cutting its head off, was sufficient. However, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, decided that the chicken plant was essential because he bragged to a number of young female bloggers about the success of the chicken plant. It turns out that Odierno was more than happy to discuss his activities in Iraq with a number of young female bloggers.
When one of Odierno's female blogger friends decided to visit Iraq, Van Buren and his team were forced to buy up all the chickens they could find in the local area to feed Odierno and his female friend a locally-prepared elegant "chicken dinner from the plant." Odierno was promoted to Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army by President Obama.
The chicken plant was not the only waste of money. The State Department sank cash into beekeeping and pastry classes for Iraqi widows whose husbands were killed during the U.S. invasion and occupation. There was no accountability for the cash spent on such projects.
The State Department's $1 billion Baghdad embassy, the largest embassy in the world, was constructed by a dubious Kuwaiti engineering firm, with little or no accountability over the funds spent.
The State Department unsuccessfully sought to have Van Buren's book redacted after publication, a ploy successfully used by the Pentagon on Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's book on U.S. military special operations, "Dark Heart." The appearance of Van Buren's book cost him his security clearance. However, after Van Buren posted on his website a video of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chortling over the execution of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi -- she exclaimed "We came, we saw, he died" -- Van Buren was told he could not return to the State Department premises and he was to remain at home to await further instructions. In an October 27 news conference at the National Press Club, Van Buren described Mrs. Clinton's statement as "obscene" and "undiplomatic."
Van Buren described a draconian working environment at the State Department where employees are forbidden from accessing leaked State Department cables from WikiLeaks at work or even at home. Ironically, Van Buren said he and Private Bradley Manning, who remains jailed without charges for allegedly leaking the over quarter million State Department cables, were stationed together at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq. Van Buren said he doesn't recall meeting Manning while at the base but they may have very well crossed paths. Curiously, Van Buren said none of the State Department Diplomatic Security agents who grilled him were interested in whether he and Manning ever met in Iraq.
Taking pride in the fact that during his State Department career he was able to help U.S. citizens in distress in foreign countries, Van Buren cited the fact that now the United States kills its citizens in foreign countries by using drones.
Van Buren also fears the same reconstruction contract fraud that was rampant in Iraq will be repeated in Libya. U.S. reconstruction projects are carried out through large amounts of cash and, according to Van Buren, the system shouts out for fraud. He said there was no accountability for funds spent in Iraq and he understands from colleagues that the situation in Afghanistan is much worse. Van Buren described Bechtel and KBR (Kellogg, Brown & Root) getting billions to build sewer systems and hospitals in Iraq that were never built. Van Buren is confident there will be a repeat in Libya. Looking down the road, Van Buren also sees Iraq reconstruction fraud situations occurring in Yemen and Somalia.
Van Buren has only been contacted by the staff at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Representative Ron Paul. No other members of Congress apparently care that tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been wasted in Iraq, are being wasted in Afghanistan, and will be wasted in Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, and Yemen...