Friday, March 29, 2013
Why is the U.S. military not protecting our veterans from being raped, by other veterans?! There are thousands of veterans who claimed to have been raped while serving in the military.
Just earlier today I met a young mother who said she's going to keep her 5 year old daughter by her side, especially when she takes her to play at a public park. Rapist are predators and they will go ANYWHERE to get their "fix".
Like with our wounded veterans, the military is quietly releasing what's become a "cancer" epidemic, back into the private sector. The reason I say "cancer" is because most of these veterans have been exposed to deadly chemical agents while serving in the Gulf region.
In 2009 Congress passed a number of bills identifying dozens of health issues that veterans, who served in the Gulf region, would eventually be diagnosed with. For those veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other military chemical bio agents, I'm sure you are aware of the side affects of our military weapons.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
In a recent NPR series, "America's Woman Warriors," correspondent Quil Lawrence looked at the unique challenges women face in the service, from sexual violence to balancing work and family.
"I think there are questions that we started to ask in the series and we realized we would never have asked a man, how do you balance your commitments to your family and your commitments to the military?"
Lawrence said on NPR. "It just goes without saying; men are men and they go off to war. Women have all of these other issues that, well, American society asks them about. And when they come back, if they've got the same sort of famous thousand-mile stare from PTSD, for me, again, that's expected; for women, why are you being so numb? Why are you unable to relate with your family? And some women don't make it home."
The military is putting more emphasis on research related to how women react differently to war. Some studies have shown that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. The Department of Veterans Affairs released a strategy report last year that examined how it could better serve female veterans.
Kayla Williams, former sergeant and Arabic linguist in a military intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), wrote about women at war in "Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army."
I'm used to speaking out about veterans issues, and the special issues that women veterans face. "Used to biting my tongue when I'm asked if I was allowed to carry a gun in Iraq because I'm 'just a girl.' Used to explaining that yes, women are actually in combat, they have died in combat, earned Silver Stars for their valor in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Used to being patient and calm and citing facts and figures and statistics to prove my points.
What I am not used to is having a little girl think first of someone like me when she thinks of what a veteran is. Not used to feeling so included, having our service recognized by an outsider without prompting, being ... accepted.
Read full article: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/03/28/daily-circuit-female-veterans
Food for thought: PTSD is real, trust me I know. When the Pentagon kicked me out of the Navy a few years ago, I had been prescribed a highly toxic chemotherapy medication just two weeks prior.
Prior to my separation I never received a full medical, dental or mental health screening and I was left to fend for myself. While coping with PTSD I chose to write a memoir about my 20 year military experience and it’s been a difficult transition for me to “blend in” with the “so-called” normal society.
After a veteran has seen war and return back home to their roots, it’s difficult for us to simply “close our eyes”, especially after seeing what really goes on during war!
When asked if he thinks audience members from 42 will be offended when they hear the n-word in the film, Ford said, “No. I don’t think they will.”
“Just to hear the word is a powerful emotional reaction from many people… me included.
If the circumstances that we’re talking about and the character that I play hadn’t worked with Jackie Robinson to change white baseball, the civil rights movement wouldn’t have happened as quickly as it did. So this is about racism, it’s about civil rights.
Food for thought: In order to change the face of our history, you must first understand our history. That history is American history!
Harrison Ford was on point during his interview but blacks in Hollywood are quick to pick out what is negative with something, vice what's positive about it.
No one enjoys hearing the "n-word" and we have come a long way from a dark time in America's history when the n-word loosely crossed white Americans lips.
Nowadays, the n-word has become a popular slang used by black men as sort of a "label" to prove there connection to the “streets”. Yet "educated" black men are offended when Hollywood makes an attempt to portray the struggles of blacks leading to the Civil rights movement. I don’t get it!
Like Harrison said, how can you talk about applesauce without talking about apples?
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
For the past year, while writing my memoir as part of my therapy treatment for PTSD I decided to create this blog site. My intentions were to give advocacy support for other victims of workplace abuse.
Over time, as I expanded my vision for helping others I found myself blogging about a number of different topics, causes, or whatever came to mind on a particular day.
Recently I’ve been examining the issues surrounding “Gay Rights” in America. I even went out on a limb to try to give advocacy support to a teenage family member who believes she is gay.
My support for her would cause strife in my family and even my mother accusing me of being gay, this was due to my dogged persistence in getting my niece’s voice heard.
After tossing and turning all night I woke up this morning and decided to blog about my experience, although it’s a sensitive topic to talk about, “Gay Rights.”
At the sacrifice of severing ties with certain family members, I stand firm on my conviction to serving God, which requires me to continue my support for helping other’s achieve equality. This includes my support for “Gay Rights!”
For the record I’m not gay and I don’t care to engage in conversations regarding the “sexual acts” or activities of homosexuality.
While championing for gay rights I’ve learned this is one of the primary reasons why those who considers themselves to be “normal” shun away from LBGTs, along with their “extreme” behavior.
Furthermore, those who defend the Holy Bible have used it as a weapon to attack our children and adults who have learned to live a life of duality.
I’m a firm believer that no one should be denied their right to the pursuit of happiness and this was a shared belief of the founders of the Constitution.
…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”…
Children are our future, so I encourage you to be open minded to listen to what they have to say. If a child is still a virgin yet can relate to their sexual orientation they may have already discovered their true identity. The documentary, "The Christine Jorgensen Story" may give you an idea of where I'm coming from.
Step out on faith and open your eyes to try to see life through the eyes of someone who is gay or is struggling with defining their sexual identity. When you do you might just discover something you never knew about yourself, that you still love them regardless!!
Sunday, March 24, 2013
This is a message for all of us, especially for those who are opposed to same sex marriage. If you haven't noticed the world is experiencing a polar shift which is causing a chemical imbalance of our hormones.
Scientists are still studying human evolution and I'm amazed at the simple discoveries I've come across, most of them have been tucked in medical journals but easily be accessed it on the internet. After listening to the confession of one of my youngest relatives about their sexual orientation I've come to realize there is so much about the human mind we've yet to understand. In an adult mind, we would say, "children are too young to understand their sexual orientation, but if you were to go overseas in certain countries, parents are marrying their daughters off after she begins her menstrual cycle.
America claims to be leaders of the free world, so why are we not allowing our children to experience true liberation?! Is it because parents are too embarrassed about what their friends or co-workers may say about their child’s so-called “abnormal” behavior.
When a child is denied an opportunity to learn how to live in a world as adults classifies as taboo or against the Catholic religion we hinder a child from full growth development. I don't want to attack someone's religious beliefs on this topic but given the recent controversy with the Roman Catholic church their heinous actions pretty much speaks for itself.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Advocate.com reported -- A Navy SH1 was told that her wife could not be involved in her retirement ceremony, as custom for most military spouses, because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
The Department of the Navy is being asked to intervene in a case where the wife of a Ship’s Serviceman First Class was told that she could not be honored at her spouse's retirement ceremony because of the Defense of Marriage Act, according to a press release from OutServe-SLDN.
Navy Serviceman First Class or SH1 Melissa Smith was finally able to marry her wife TJ Jenkins two months ago in Maryland. After working on the NAS Oceana in Virginia, she is now ready to retire, but her commanding officer will not allow Smith's legal wife to be recognized for her support, as the ritual goes for military spouses. The commanding officer said that because DOMA is still the law federally, he will not allow Jenkins to be recognized at the ceremony.
Jenkins and Smith have also raised six children together. Two are Smith's, and two are Jenkin's, biologically. However, Smith was told that only her biological children will be recognized at the ceremony as well.
“My wife has served our nation for almost 20 years, and this is the way she is treated by her command?” Jenkins said in a statement Friday. “I believe that Captain Geis is being a bully and using DOMA as a shield to hide behind. He wants to use the terms 'service member’s partner,' when in fact I’m not her partner, I’m her wife!”
OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson said, in a statement, this is a clear example of how the so-called Defense of Marriage Act provides an inconsistent plan for how the military is supposed to treat same-sex, legal spouses of service personnel.
"As long as DOMA is on the books, commanders will be forced to discriminate, despite the fact that our Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense have made it clear that America’s LGBT service members and their families deserve to be treated fairly," Robinson said Friday.
The inconsistency is evident, since several other military service members have had retirement ceremonies since the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which honor their spouses, according to WTKR News.
Stephen Peters, President of the American Military Partner Association, said in a release, that the treatment of the couple is "despicable." He added, "certificates of appreciation have been given out repeatedly throughout the Navy to same-sex spouses since the repeal of 'don’t ask, don’t tell.' It is simply outrageous that this commanding officer is now suddenly trying to use the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as an excuse not to honor the wife of this Sailor at her retirement ceremony.”
Food for thought: Yet another clear example of how military top brass are denying our sailors their civil rights, much less their Constitutional rights.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
GENEVA: The United Nations’ top human rights official is condemning a series of attacks on albinos in Tanzania and urging the country to do more to prevent the ”abhorrent” crimes.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
How much does a U.S. War Cost?......... Brown University Study Show: Iraq War Cost 190K Lives, $2.2 Trillion
WASHINGTON -- The U.S.-led war in Iraq claimed 190,000 lives and will cost the U.S. government at least $2.2 trillion, according to the findings of a project at Brown University released Thursday.
The Costs of War report, released ahead of the 10th anniversary of the war on March 20, said that the financial calculation included "substantial" costs to care for wounded U.S. veterans.
The total estimate far outstrips the initial projection by President George W. Bush's government that the war would cost $50 billion to $60 billion.
More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq were civilians, or an estimated 134,000 people. A small number of the 190,000 dead were U.S. casualties: 4,488 U.S. military members and at least 3,400 U.S. contractors, according to the report.
"The staggering number of deaths in Iraq is hard to fathom, but each of these individuals has to count and be counted," said Catherine Lutz, a professor at Rhode Island-based Brown University who helped lead the study.
The U.S. government has spent $60 billion on reconstruction, but little has gone to restoring destroyed infrastructure. Most of the money has gone to the Iraqi military and police, the report noted.
"Nearly every government that goes to war underestimates its duration, neglects to tally all the costs and overestimates the political objectives that will be accomplished by war's violence," said Neta Crawford, a professor who helped coordinate the study.
The U.S. State Department conceded that both countries made "enormous sacrifices." Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, responding to the Costs of War report, said that the United States and Iraq have forged a "strategically important bilateral relationship."
"Compared to where we were in the Saddam era, we now have a bilateral security agreement. We have deep economic interests and ties. We have a security relationship. We have a political relationship," she said.
The Costs of War project involved 30 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel and political scientists from 15 universities, the United Nations and other organizations.
Food for thought: And you wonder why young people are afraid to join the military!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the Management of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms in Health Care Settings in 2006 followed by the Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Health Care Settings in 2007. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) developed the Enhanced Standard Precautions (ESP) guideline to consolidate the CDC's recommendations. The ESP guideline addresses preventing the transmission of any infectious agent in long-term care facilities. The ESP guideline is attached.Read full article here: http://www.10news.com/news/mrsa-rampant-in-southern-california-nursing-homes-says-new-study
CDPH's ESP guideline recommends that facilities should implement standard precautions which include proper hand hygiene (thorough hand washing) and use of personal protective equipment when in contact with all blood and body fluids from residents. Contact precautions, grouping together patients with MRSA and enhanced environmental sanitation are recommended to prevent the transmission of MRSA in long-term care residents.
Recently Michelle Obama announced Beyonce as one of the music artists booked to perform at her 50th birthday party next year, along side Adele.
With random quotes like, "I Rule the World" and "Bow Down Bitches", makes you wonder what other trophy 'little Ms. B' is trying to achieve next?!
Read articles here:
Monday, March 18, 2013
I'm proud Hillary is taking a stand for Equality, especially Gay Marriage! I've encountered so many young people who are already identifying with their "self-chosen" sexual orientation, before reaching their final stage of puberty. Unfortunately parents are not supportive when a child tries to own his or her "individual" yet dual identity. These children will one day become adults and should be afforded the same equal rights to marry whom ever they choose.
Read full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/18/hillary-clinton-gay-marriage_n_2900557.html
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Black Pearls of Wisdom
© 2012 Syneeda Penland
Deep inside the pit of the abyss
I let out a loud scream,
Crying out to God, asking,
“Lord, what does all of this really mean?”
I’ve traveled the earth
40 days, 40 nights, 40 years
Since my birth,
Only to experience a re-birth,
To be awaken from a curse.
My mind, my body, my spirit,
Held in captivity,
I’ve arisen from the pit of hell
Only to discover all the lies that’s been told to me.
I am but a stem, a cell,
Once- twice divided
Once- twice divided
From the seeds of Mother Earth,
Two souls intertwined upon my re-birth.
Living in one body,
Conjoined at the head,
One soul represents the living
The other, the dead.
At the ripen age of adulthood
What am I now to believe?
The ancient story that humans
Are descendants of only Adam and Eve?
The Roman Catholic religion
dates back for only 2000 years,
dates back for only 2000 years,
For centuries, their lies
Have been cemented inside our ears.
Some say war on religion
Is a sign of Armageddon;
I say, its God way of unveiling
All the secrets that’s been hidden.
I don’t like to argue my belief
Or disbelief on religion,
But connected to our minds, our body and our spirit
Is where the truth is really hidden.
The human heart is magnetically charged
By God’s spirit called life,
God shines his Glory, the Sun,
Onto Mother Earth, his wife.
We are all star seeds, human Angels
Sent here to protect Mother Earth,
Arriving from the deep abyss of God’s Black Heaven
Far beyond the reaches of man,
The truth of our existence
Man has yet to understand.
For Mother Earth has become restless
From all the chaos caused by man,
His threats of nuclear war
Seeking to destroy her precious land?!
As a fire child, I see, I hear, I feel...
The echo vibrations of Mother Earth’s cry;
She’s asking us to worship her in PEACE
Before mankind is called forth to die.
The stories of his sins
Are outlined in his Holy book,
Tales of how man came to destroy himself
And how long it took.
His-story is a lesson learned
That is not to be repeated,
As Mother Earth gets closer to our Father, Sun
She’ll start to get very heated.
Her fiery lust for her protector
Is what is really needed,
To bleed out hate from the souls of man
Leaving the tears of her daughter’s
To finally nourish her precious land, again.
Peace and love will save us in the end!
Peace and love will save us in the end!
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Indiewire.com reports "Steve Harvey should be a very happy man. He has a hit daytime talk show, still hosts a popular TV game show, has best-selling books that become box office hit movies, a popular self-described relationship expert (please no snickering), and a very successful comedy career to boot.
But there are some things that Harvey is not happy about.
In a recent piece about him in the Hollywood Reporter, Harvey lashed out at the unfairness he sees in Hollywood:
The article went on to reveal exactly when Harvey's eyes were first opened to this, though it was pretty obvious to everyone else:
So do you agree with Harvey? Are you surprised or is he just stating obvious?
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Finally, Congress taking Civil Rights issues in the military seriously... But then again, isn't rape a human rights violation?!
Read full article here: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/13/17299244-rape-on-duty-senate-panel-members-suggest-overhaul-of-military-justice-system?
Food for thought: Upon signing an enlistment contract or commissioning oath of office, is when a veteran proves his willingness to sacrifice his life for his country. Unfortunately over the past decade, service members have become the aggressive enemy towards one another, resulting in committing acts of human rights violations. This is condoned under the 1965 Equal Employment Opportunity Act and 1950s Feres Doctrine, which gives military officials the authority to manage its own internal civil and human rights affairs. These laws are carried out and governed under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, UCMJ.
This blog post is not intended to promote every detail of my story but to amplify the pain a victim endures after he or she has experienced sexual victimization.
Early last year, after concluding the final chapter of my manuscript, "Broken Silence", I was diagnosed (a month later) with symptoms of PTSD. For months, while writing the final chapters of my story, I suffered: panic attacks, insomnia, flashbacks and fear, all while struggling to find the right words to describe my civil rights violations, committed against me by my direct military supervisors. I’m sure I left out a lot of details.
After watching excerpts from the Senate hearings yesterday, my emotions were triggered once again but this time I had flashbacks to when I was locked away in prison. I remembered being sexually victimized by the female inmates and prison guards. The abuse began the first night I arrived at the federal prison when I was ordered to stripe naked and was photographed from every angle.
After each visitation, which was several times a week, I was further violated by the prison guards. They would always have me wait in the visitation area, after my visitor left, until a particular guard(s) was available. At times there were two of them. I was taken to a small room, ordered to strip naked, down to my socks and even eyeglasses. I never understood the reason for “the search” because the visits were always monitored through a two-way glass and video camera, and the visitors were searched before they were allowed to see me.
During my brief incarceration, I was assigned to live in the general population dormitory as the only commissioned officer, which violates the rules of fraternization. I was also forced to live among convicted murders, drug addicts/dealers and a sex offender, convicted of child molestation. My deferment request to remain under house arrest was denied. A year before my trail and a year after my release from prison, I was denied my EEO rights and was ordered to work from home. My only military duties was to call in everyday no later than 0730.
I tried to contact several local California Senators, Congressmen and even the NAACP for help with my overall case, but they were too afraid to challenge the military. I sadly realized, after my discharge, so was Senator Grassley!
Because our veteran’s cries goes unheard on the inside of the military's iron curtain, rape and sexual assault victims have been forced to file petitions, contact news reporters and are now testifying before Congress to get our voices heard.
The Department of Defense has an ironclad system put in place which I describe as a fraternal order, it is to preclude any unlawful acts being committed against veterans from coming to light, just Google the "Tail hook" scandal. I was on active duty when that horrific sex scandal took place and you can read all about the aftermath on the Internet. Boys will by Boys, and the Big Boys will always provide cover for their “Bad Boys”!
During my 20 years of active military service I saw a lot, as both an enlisted sailor and as an officer. Trust me; it was like I was living in two different worlds. Needless to say, I learned how to walk the tightrope until I arrived at the end of my career. It was when I was encouraged by my senior counterparts to begin networking myself to defense contractors, if I wanted to secure a cushy and lucrative post retirement job with the military. Because I didn't go along to get along I ended up in prison and was kicked out of the military 5 months before reaching my 20-year retirement eligibility. I was later denied my retirement pension.
The victim’s stories are real and should not be ignored! When I initially spoke out against my aggressors, I was ordered to be punished, to be put back in my place. I wasn't sure what was meant by that statement. Was it because I was a woman? Or because I'm Black? Oh well.
I pray the rape victims are able to find relief, because I have. I finally asked God for forgiveness, for myself and for my transgressors. And so can you!
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
How can gay adoption be considered child abuse and not child molestation?! According to the Roman Catholic church.
Read full article here:
Read full article here:
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Catholic Cardinals hear plea for "unity" as they prepare to elect a new pope
CBS NEWS reports -- Vatican City, "The cardinals tasked with electing the Roman Catholic Church's new pope began Tuesday morning with a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Following the service, the 115 cardinal electors returned to their hotel-like quarters for lunch before they were due to shut themselves into the Sistine Chapel for the first day of the actual papal conclave -- the ritualistic voting process which will see them chose the next pontiff.
Torrential downpours in St. Peter's Square kept the number of faithful and curious low as inside the Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, asked his fellow prelates "to cooperate with the Successors of Peter, the visible foundation of such an ecclesial unity."
Sodan's appeal for unity comes on the heels of the first resignation of a pope in almost 600 years, and just hours ahead of the process which will serve to install a new Catholic leader on whose shoulders will rest the daunting task of steering the church out of an era marked by scandal and allegations of infighting and mismanagement.
Pope Benedict XVI's resignation exacerbated the problems the Church has been attempting to deal with quietly for more than a year, sparking speculation that corruption and poor management practices brought vividly to light by the publication of private documents from the pontiff's own desk might even have catalyzed his decision to step down.
In his wake, the now- Pope Emeritus Benedict left a Church divided, by many accounts, between the Vatican's inner-circle of prelates who dominate its bureaucracy, know as the Curia, and many cardinals from outside the circle who feel, perhaps more keenly, pressure from their congregations and the world at large to drag the 2,000 year old institution into the 21st century."
Saturday, March 9, 2013
The AP reports, An Ohio man who spent 13 years in prison for a murder he did not commit has been awarded $13.2 milion by a federal jury. David Ayers, 56, was released from prison in 2011 after an appeals court reversed his conviction of the 1999 murder of 76-year-old Dorothy Brown. Two police detectives were found to have violated Ayers' civil rights by coercing and falsifying testimony and withholding evidence that indicated Ayers was innocent...
Read full article: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130309/ohio-man-david-ayers-exonerated-after-13-years-p
Food for thought: No amount of money can make up for spending one day in prison for a crime you didn't commit. Trust me, I know!
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
More evidence of your tax dollars gone to waste... And you still support wasteful military spending?!
Project on Government Oversight reported--The legacy of all the money the U.S. wasted in Iraq might be summed up with a single quote. “$55 billion could have brought great change in Iraq,” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently told the U.S.’s Iraq auditor. In fact, the U.S. spent $60 billion in its botched and often fraudulent efforts to rebuild the country it invaded, occupied and recast in its image.
With the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion looming, Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, considers $8 billion of that money wasted outright. And that’s a “conservative” estimate, Bowen tells Danger Room.
“We couldn’t look at every project — that’s impossible — but our audits show a lack of accountability,” Bowen says. “We are not well structured to carry out stability and reconstruction operations.”
That isn’t nearly the whole story of the Iraq War’s expense. Bowen is only looking at reconstruction money, not the cost of military operations in Iraq, which totaled over $800 billion. But on Wednesday, Bowen’s office released a mammoth, final report into the botched reconstruction, which cost the U.S. taxpayers, on average, $15 million every day from 2003 to 2012 — all for dubious gain.
It turns out there wasn’t just one way to waste all that money. Some projects got started and never finished, like a prison in Diyala province, shown above, that languishes unbuilt nearly nine years after the government spent $40 million to build it. Other contracts went to cronies: the top contracting officer in Hilla awarded $8.6 million to a contractor, Philip Bloom, in exchange for “bribes and kickbacks, expensive vehicles, business-class airline tickets, computers, jewelry, and other items.” Still others got needless cash infusions: one unspecified school requested $10,000 for refurbishments and got $70,000. Government contracting databases didn’t even have “an information management system that keeps track of everything built,” Bowen recounts.
“You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad or other cities,” Iraq’s acting interior minister told Bowen, “but you cannot point a finger at a single project that was built and completed by the United States.” Shoveling money into a chaotic warzone created a “triangle of political patronage” that ensured corruption would be an “institution unto itself in Iraq,” in the view of the acting governor of the Iraqi central bank. (Iraq consistently ranks at the bottom of Transparency International’s index on corruption.) By contrast, David Petraeus, the U.S. general who led the 2007-2008 troop surge, told Bowen that reconstruction provided “colossal benefits to Iraq.”
Even projects that seemed like success stories ultimately under-delivered. Nine major reconstruction projects for Iraq’s energy infrastructure cost around $1.19 billion. By and large, they were each completed within two years of their original schedule, and are a major reason why Iraq’s energy supply stands at over 8,000 megawatts, compared to around 3,000 megawatts at the time of the invasion. The problem is, Bowen’s report finds, the estimated demand for electricity in the new Iraq is around 14,000 megawatts.
Lots of factors contributed to the misspent or missing cash. Rarely was it clear which of the alphabet soup of government agencies was in charge of the disbursement. The U.S. was overeager to hand over construction projects to Iraqis that lacked the capacity to finish them. Contractors flooded Iraq — there were nearly 174,000 contract personnel in Iraq in 2009, a larger force than the U.S. military ever fielded — but a persistent “lack of sufficient contracting personnel in Iraq weakened acquisition support, hampering project outcomes,” Bowen’s report concludes. The report considers the 2003 purge of Sunnis from the Iraqi government to be the bureaucratic equivalent of the Baghdad looting that occurred in the occupation’s early days.
Some U.S. reconstruction cash ended up being wasted during attempts to mitigate waste. A case in point was an effort the military loved, called the Commanders Emergency Response Program. As the name indicates, the program was basically walking-around-money, distributed at the discretion of military commanders, to hire Iraqis to work on short-term, high-value projects, thereby bringing economic dynamism — and an alternative to insurgency — to impoverished Iraqis.
To this day, Bowen finds, it’s impossible to say what the $4 billion program actually bought. Commanders’ record-keeping was inexact and incomplete. “This renders suspect commander narratives, academic studies, and other analyses that claim success based on that data,” the report concludes. (That includes $370 million that commanders famously used in 2007 and 2008 to pay Sunni insurgents not to fight.) Yet the program was exported to Afghanistan.
The legacy of the Iraq War, and the reconstruction effort, will be debated endlessly. One argument holds the U.S. should not attempt to destroy and then rebuild a foreign country it doesn’t understand. Bowen doesn’t go that far — “unrealistic,” he says. Agnostic on the wisdom of open-ended nation-building missions, Bowen contends that the U.S. can’t afford to do them in ad hoc ways, as experience teaches they require much greater structural oversight over the dumptrucks full of cash that they require.
But that hasn’t happened. “The U.S. government is not much better prepared for the next stabilization operation than it was in 2003,” his report laments. A bureaucratic reform Bowen pushed earlier in the Obama administration to consolidate reconstruction efforts went nowhere.
“If we don’t reform our approach to stability and reconstruction operations,” Bowen warns, “we can expect to confront once again the very significant challenges we saw in Iraq, albeit on a smaller scale.”