Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Congress is becoming curious about Iraq deals and it's about gd time....

Top Republicans and Democrats in Congress are calling for greater scrutiny of the American effort to rebuild Iraq, and some want to investigate how huge contracts were awarded to Bechtel Corp. of San Francisco and Halliburton Co., a Houston firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Democrats such as Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a presidential candidate, and Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio expect that their calls for an investigation will be dismissed as attempts to score partisan points by embarrassing President Bush. But GOP Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, usually a firm Bush ally and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said he is concerned with the "lack of transparency" that has surrounded the reconstruction program for postwar Iraq.

Hyde, speaking at a hearing Thursday, said a lack of basic information about the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs has hamstrung congressional efforts to find out what's going on, who's responsible, how contracts are awarded and the effectiveness of efforts to restore law and order as well as basic services in Iraq.

"I understand, for example, that the very charter of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs is still classified as national security information," Hyde said in asking for a General Accounting Office review of the Iraq situation.