SIGIR Audit Finds Some U.S. CERP Funds Went to Insurgents in Iraq
Funds from a $4 billion program intended to improve relations between the two countries were siphoned off by the enemy, a new audit finds. Eli Lake reports on why CERP was still called a success.
Eli Lake at The Daily Beast April 29, 2012
During the war in Iraq, battalion commanders were allocated packets of $100 bills and authorized to use them for anything from repairing a schoolhouse to paying off ex-rebels and paying blood money to the families of innocents killed by U.S. forces. But a new audit finds that in some cases that cash made its way to the pockets of the very insurgents the United States was trying to fight.
The money was part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), and from 2004 to 2011 the U.S. government poured $4 billion into it in Iraq. And because the Pentagon gauged CERP a success, a similar initiative is under way in Afghanistan. “We think CERP is an absolutely critical and flexible counterinsurgency tool,” Michele Flournoy, who was then undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2010.
But was CERP really a success in Iraq? A 2012 audit conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and released to the public on Monday found that 76 percent of the battalion commanders surveyed believed at least some of the CERP funds had been lost to fraud and corruption. “Commanders sometimes perceived the corruption as simply a price of doing business in Iraqi culture and others perceived it as presenting a significant impediment to U.S. goals,” the report says. “Several asserted that reconstruction money may have ended up in the hands of insurgents.”
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