(AFP) – May 12, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — A former senior US official in Iraq on Monday accused the State Department of recklessly misleading Americans over the country's plight and contributing to the deaths and maiming of US soldiers.
Retired judge Arthur Brennan alleged that poor performance by the department had led to the loss of billions of dollars, and warned some of the money could be funding outlaws, or insurgents, including the Mehdi Army.
Brennan, who served in 2007 as Director of the Office of Accountability and Transparency, at the US embassy in Baghdad, testified before a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing, which no Republicans attended.
He accused the State Department of failing in its mission to thwart widespread corruption in Iraq, and said its policies had instead allowed corruption to fester.
"The actual policies and performance of the State Department in Iraq were not what they are represented to be," he said, his voice shaking with emotion.
"The Department of State has negligently, recklessly and sometimes intentionally misled the US Congress, the American people and the people of Iraq."
"In a sense, the Department of State has contributed to the killing and maiming of US soldiers, the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians; the bolstering of illegal militias, insurgents and Al-Qaeda."
"Billions of US and Iraqi dollars have been lost, stolen and wasted, it is likely that some of that money is financing outlaws and insurgents such as the Medhi Army."
There was no immediate response to the allegations from the State Department.
Brennan, who said he only served in Iraq for 25 days due to a family emergency, was asked by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill whether US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker was intentionally misleading Americans over the level of corruption in Iraq.
"If he doesn't know then he is negligent, if he does know he is intentionally misleading Congress and the American public," he said.
Brennan alleged that one unnamed Iraqi leader, who was "corrupt and dangerous," had been involved in a leadership role in a ministry complicit in the abduction, torture and murder of hundreds of Sunnis in Iraqi medical centers.
He said he brought the issue to the attention of Crocker, but added "That Iraqi leader is still in power."
Brennan also accused the State Department of joining the Iraqi government in ignoring and demeaning Judge Radhi al-Radhi, former head of the Iraqi Commission for Public Integrity (CPI).
Radhi has since sought US asylum, after what he said were threats and pressure by the Iraqi government to thwart his attempts to investigate leading ministers for corruption.
Another former US official in Iraq, James Mattil, accused President George W. Bush's administration of failing to demand meaningful action from the Iraqi government on fighting corruption.
"It seems reasonable to conclude that the reasons are either, gross incompetence, willful negligence or political intent on the part of the Bush administration and more specifically, the Department of State," he said.
Mattil was employed as chief of staff for the Office of Accountability and Transparency in Baghdad between October 2006 and October 2007.
The hearing came ahead of the latest in a series of congressional showdowns on funding for the war, and the demands by senior Democrats to bring troops home after the five-year war.
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