Letter in Support of a Commission to Investigate U.S. Contracts in Iraq

September 25, 2007



Dear Senator:

On behalf of its 300,000 members and supporters, Common Cause urges you to support an amendment to the FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill that would create a commission to study and investigate wartime contracts and contracting processes in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Senator James Webb (D-VA) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) are the sponsors of this amendment.

The proposed commission would assess the extent of fraud, mismanagement, waste and misuse associated with military contracts as well as the policies, procedures, processes and performance of those contracts. The commission could also help answer critical questions about the advisability of the move to increasingly depend on civilian contractors hired to perform wartime functions.

The New York Times recently reported that $6 billion in military contracts to provide food water and shelter to American troops was under review by criminal investigators. An additional $88 billion in contracts are being audited for financial irregularities. And in 2005, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) found that nearly $9 billion in funds for Iraq was unaccounted for.

Federal prosecutors are currently investigating charges that a private American security firm operating in Iraq, Blackwater USA, smuggled weapons into Iraq and sold them to groups designated by the United States as terrorist organizations. In addition, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki views the shooting of Iraq civilians last week by Blackwater USA personnel to be a threat to Iraqi sovereignty and is expected to refer criminal charges to the Iraqi courts, along with evidence of six other instances of civilian shootings by company employees.

This alleged behavior by an American contractor, and the astounding lack of accountability for billions of taxpayer dollars on the part of the Pentagon has outraged Congressional lawmakers of both parties and calls out for a thorough investigation by an independent, bipartisan commission.

It is long past time to establish this commission. Common Cause applauds Senator Webb and Senator McCaskill for sponsoring this amendment and we most urgently ask you to support it.

Sincerely,

Bob Edgar, President and CEO, Common Cause

Sarah Dufendach, Chief of Legislative Affairs, Common Cause


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