Wed, May 14, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Americans misled about Iraq, former official says

ALLEGATIONSThe US State Department allowed corruption to fester in the Iraqi government, a former head of the Office of Accountability and Transparency said

AFP , WASHINGTON

A former senior US official in Iraq on Monday accused the US 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 as director of the Office of Accountability and Transparency at the US embassy in Baghdad last year, 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," Brennan said. "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."

The State Department rejected the charges on Monday.

"We recognize that corruption is a serious problem in Iraq and have worked continuously with the Iraqi government to respond to it," State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said.

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 said 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."

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