Senator Claire McCaskill has spent the weekend in Iraq looking into fraud and abuse in military and reconstruction contracts. She reports a loss that might be beyond calculation.

McCaskill, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former state auditor, says the delegation has found "gargantuan" mistakes made in the amount of money spent on Iraqui reconstruction with no meaningful oversight. 

She says one of the most frustrating things is that mistakes made in the early part of the Iraq campaign are the same mistakes made in Kosovo and Bosnia.  But "serious gaps" in oversight mean serious loss of taxpayer dollars. She thinks it’s fair to say "billions of dollars" were lost because huge amounts of money were fed through the system at a time when the military was properly focused on its military mission and was prepared to provide proper oversight of reconstruction spending. She says many of the contracts were cost-plus, which she calls "the cherry on top."

As an example, McCaskill says, are contracts for more than 100 health clinics, hospitals, and prisons.  But only about twenty were completed. McCaskill says it’s doubtful much of the money can be recovered.   But she says several investigations are still open and criminal charges remain possible.



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