Tens of millions of U.S. dollars have been wasted in Iraq reconstruction aid, investigators say. The quarterly audit by Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, is the latest to paint a grim picture of waste, fraud and frustration in an Iraq war and reconstruction effort that has cost taxpayers more than $300 billion and left the region near civil war.
The audit comes as President Bush is pressing Congress to approve $1.2 billion in new reconstruction aid as part of his broader plan to stabilize Iraq by sending 21,500 more U.S. troops to Baghdad and Anbar province.
According to the report, the State Department paid $43.8 million to contractor DynCorp International for the residential camp for police training personnel outside of Baghdad's Adnan Palace grounds that has stood empty for months.
Also according to the report, Bowen's office opened 27 new criminal probes in the last quarter, bringing the total number of active cases to 78. Twenty-three are awaiting prosecutorial action by the Justice Department, most of them centering on charges of bribery and kickbacks.
The government's "most significant challenge continues to be strengthening rule-of-law institutions -- the judiciary, prisons and the police," the report said. "The United States has spent billions of dollars in this area, with limited success to date."