Rebuilding Iraq

From today’s New York Times

Last week Robert Stein Jr. was charged in federal court with a slew of crimes allegedly committed while he was a financial officer for the American occupation authority in Iraq. The affidavit in the case says that Mr. Stein accepted over $200,000 a month to steer contracts to an American businessman whose companies often did poor work and sometimes did no work at all.

The case is a painful reminder of the absolute dearth of planning for rebuilding Iraq after the war. According to reporting by James Glanz in The Times, Mr. Stein was convicted of a fraud-related felony in 1996 and also fired from a job in 2002 for falsifying payroll records and invoices. The American government then sent him to help oversee construction projects in Hilla and the Shiite holy city of Karbala, with $82 million in taxpayer funds.

There must be accountability higher up for this clearly bad judgment. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. Officials at the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction say they are pursuing 50 more cases and have already referred at least six more to prosecutors.