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UNDER FIRE
Report Describes Rampant Iraqi Corruption
US Embassy Assesses Ministry Problems, Maliki's "Hostility" to Investigations
08/31/2007 11:08 AM ET
Baghdad, IRAQ: Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki chairs a meeting of the Iraqi Cabinet in Baghdad, 03 July 2007.
Khalid Mohammed/AFP/Getty
Baghdad, IRAQ: Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki chairs a meeting of the Iraqi Cabinet in Baghdad, 03 July 2007.

Corruption in the Iraqi government is "the norm in many ministries," according to a report prepared by the US embassy in Baghdad, based on the work of the Commission for Public Integrity (CPI), an independent Iraqi institution, and other anticorruption agencies within the Iraqi government.

David Corn of the Nation procured a copy of the study, labeled "SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED/Not for distribution to personnel outside of the US Embassy in Baghdad," which describes a fairly bleak moral landscape in the Iraqi ministries, and a prime minister who is either unable or unwilling to impose or enforce standards of ethical practice, transparency, and accountability in government operations.

According to the report, Maliki's office exacerbates the problem: "The Prime Minister's Office has demonstrated an open hostility" to independent corruption investigations. His government has withheld resources from the CPI, the report says, and "there have been a number of identified cases where government and political pressure has been applied to change the outcome of investigations and prosecutions in favor of members of the Shia Alliance"-which includes Maliki's Dawa party.

A separate "Secret and Confidential" memo obtained by The Nation described how Maliki's office forbid the CPI from forwarding any case to the courts involving the president, the prime minister, or any current or past ministers without Maliki's permission. According to the U.S. embassy report, the government was so hostile towards the anticorruption investigations, the CPI link on the official Iraqi government website led visitors to porn for awhile.

From the looks of the Embassy's assessment of the pervasive level of corruption in Iraq's ministries, Maliki would have a massive problem to confront, if he ever wanted to.

Ministry of the Interior

"Seen by Iraqis as untouchable by the anticorruption enforcement infrastructure of Iraq."

"Groups within MOI function similarly to a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) in the classic sense. MOI is a 'legal enterprise' which has been co-opted by organized criminals who act through the 'legal enterprise' to commit crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, bribery, etc."

"Currently 426 investigations are hung up awaiting responses for documents belonging to MOI which routinely are ignored."

"CPI investigators assigned to MOI investigations have unanimously expressed their fear of being assassinated should they aggressively pursue their duties at MOI."

Ministry of Defense

"Corruption investigations in Ministry of Defense are judged to be ineffectual."

Officials express a "shocking lack of concern" about the theft of $850 million from the defense procurement budget.

"In some cases....American advisors working for US have interceded to remove suspects from investigations or custody."

Ministry of Trade

"Widely recognized as a troubled ministry"

Ministry of Health

"Is a sore point; corruption is actually affecting its ability to deliver services and threatens the support of the government."

Ministry of Oil

"CPI and the are completely ill-equipped to handle oil theft cases," which leaves criminal groups unhindered in stealing oil "for the benefit of militias/insurgents, corrupt public officials and foreign buyers."

Ministry of Education

"Anticorruption cases concerning the Ministry of Education have been particularly ineffective...."

Ministry of Water Resources

"Effectively out of the anticorruption fight with little to no apparent effort in trying to combat fraud."

Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs

"Hostile to the prosecution of corruption cases."

Ministry of Transportation

"Militia support from has effectively made corruption in the Ministry of Transportation wholesale according to investigators and immune from prosecution."

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