April 8th, 2008
01:45 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: Iraqis playing U.S. taxpayers for 'suckers'?

 The Bush administration had predicted Iraqi oil exports would finance reconstruction of the country.
The Bush administration had predicted Iraqi oil exports would finance reconstruction of the country.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just before and immediately after the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq, Bush administration officials optimistically predicted that Iraqi oil exports would soon finance the reconstruction of the country. That didn’t happen. U.S. taxpayers were stuck with the literally tens of billions of dollars in bills.

Now, five years later and with the price of oil reaching more than $100 a barrel, Iraqi oil exports are generating huge sums - $56.4 billion this year alone, according to the Government Accountability Office. Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says Iraq now has tens of billions of dollars in surplus funds in their banks and in other accounts around the world, including about $30 billion in U.S. banks right now.

But Levin notes that the Iraqis by and large are still not using their money to build new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. Why should they? Uncle Sam is still doing that for them.

“The result is that far from financing its own reconstruction, as the administration promised five years ago, the Iraqi government has left the U.S. to make most of the capital expenditures needed to provide essential services and improve the quality of life of the Iraqi citizens,” Levin said in his opening remarks before the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. “As of last Thursday,” Levin added, “the United States is paying the salaries of almost 100,000 Iraqis who are working on reconstruction.”

At a time of economic distress in the United States, including fears of recession, home foreclosures, job losses, infrastructure strains, and health care worries, U.S. lawmakers publicly are asking why the Iraqis themselves can’t pick up the tab for their own reconstruction. Privately, several of them are going one step further - asking whether they Iraqis actually are playing the U.S. taxpayers for suckers.


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. SHERRIE GOODMAN

    YOUR ARTICLE IS THE REAL STORY OF THE DAY. WHILE GENERAL PATRAEUS SITS AND TRIES TO SELL THE WAR IN FRNT OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE, WE'RE PAYING FOR ALMOST EVERYTHING IN IRAQ PLUS GETTING OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN KILLED...ALL FOR WHAT? WE ARE DEFINATELY THE ONES BEING HELD HOSTAGE....AND I PERSONALLY DON'T THINK WE CAN GET OUR TROOPS OUT OF THERE FAST ENOUGH. LET THEM KILL THEMSELVES OFF FOR A CHANGE AND GET IT OUT OF THEIR SYSTEMS! ALTHOUGH WE STEPPED INTO THEIR LIVES WHEN WE SHOULDN'T HAVE...WE CAN'T GO ON LOSING THIS WAY..THERE AND AT HOME. THIS WAR IS WREAKING THE AMERICA I'VE KNOWN ALL MY LIFE AND I'M NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT!

    THANKS, WOLF! LOVE YOUR BRAIN AND UNFLAPPABLE NATURE..YOU'RE ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS!

    April 8, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Stephen Lindsey

    Thank you, Wolf. Enough is enough. Many states can't build new roads because of the lack of Federal contributions- but yet we keep wiring billions to Iraq and for what? Does it really take $12 Billion a month to kill a handful of "bad guys" every month. No, it takes $12 Billion a month to pay off the Shiites and Sunnis so they won't cut each others throats.

    April 8, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. D.D.

    We are fighting criminals there and need to be fighting the criminals here at home.

    April 8, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. shirley

    No, Iraq has no obligation to pay Halliburton to rebuild what we have destroyed in this illigal war. Halliburton has been paid billions of dollars in a no bid contract rebuilding what this war has destroyed in Iraq. Reports have suggested that Halliburtion has failed in their rebuilding attempts. Our tax money is being invested in Halliburton and Cheeny is profiting from this fraudulent contract. Halliburton should be fired and the Iraq people should be given the help needed to rebuild their own Country.

    April 8, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. Anthony-Minneapolis,MN

    Don't forget Bush and Cheney playing there own citizens for suckers as well. After reading this report I now feel that this administration is the worst in our history. Bush and Cheney are like Idi Amin, Castro, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh. They are the true enemy within. Out grand tree of liberty and freedom needs to be replinished with the blood of tyrants i.e. Bush.Cheney/Rumsfeld, etc etc with patriots i.e. the american people brave enough to chart that course as the founders once did

    April 8, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Nelson Colorado Springs Co

    If this so the Bush administration and congress should stop funding now and pay off some of the war dedt

    April 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Joe

    They didn't ask us to invade them either. We broke it, we have to foot the bill...

    We can't even imagine how horrific we have made their lives, this is the least we can do

    April 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. clark shannon

    I agree that the U.S. taxpayers are being used as suckers. Only one thing makes me madder: I don't see a way to get some of that free money.

    April 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Billy J Austin,TX

    Although it's nice to see it in print, since the war so tepidly criticized when it REALLY counted, at the beginning, this is hardly news to anyone paying attention.

    April 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. Ava Marie Napoleon

    What a sin! I work for a non-profit that serves adults with developmental disabilities and Florida has a waiting list for money to provide services for these individuals that is 4 to 5 years long. This is due to lack of funds! Has the US ever heard of taking care of your own before you reach out to others?

    April 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. John, Milwaukee, WI

    It is NOT ONLY the Iraqis who are playing us for SUCKERS, it's the KING GEORGE administration as well... but they have been doing that for almost 8 years now, and no one seems to have noticed...

    That's America for you!

    April 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. fred brooks

    another reason to leave Iraq.

    April 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Kevin of Portland

    Well.

    Are you nuts? Do you really need to be told the old saying- you broke it, you bought it?

    When are we going to take some responsibility for our actions? We destroyed Iraq's infrastructure. Bombed their country into the stone age and now you're complaining that we're paying to fix it?

    That is the LEAST we can do to fix the damage. Don't forget that the case for war in Iraq was wholly manufactured by the Bush administration. We blew it up and now it's our job to put it back together at our expense. And as for corruption in Iraq's new government? Well. That is the government we help install. So that's on us too.

    Why don't you admit that, in spite of our economic woes at home and in spite of the fact that we never should have invaded Iraq in the first place, that now it is our sacred responsibility to repair the damage at our expense. As much as I would like to see us withdrawal troops tomorrow, I think that would do more damage than we've already done.

    Time to stop complaining and start talking about the hard choices we have to make, the bullets we have to bite and the difficult realities we have to endure because of our actions.

    April 8, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Josh

    The Iraqis are playing the taxpayers? Tell me again who exactly damaged their roads and infrastructure? I forget, was it the Iraqis who told us to invade their country?

    Where do you people come up with this stuff? Why shouldn't we be responsible for cleaning up our own mess?

    If you break it, you bought it applies in a grocery store, it should apply to foreign policy.

    April 8, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Kel

    Very interesting indeed. While looking at the numbers though, I couldn't help but have a though. Forgive me if i'm mistaken, but if Iraq exports $56.4 billion a year in oil, isn't that much, much more than the yearly cost of the war to the US?

    Perhaps we are being played. Wouldn't be the first time.

    April 8, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. The Pending Tea Party

    No Wolf, but I'd imagine Congressional Dems see taxpayers as suckers. "Ha ha! Work harder! Millions on welfare are depending on you!"

    April 8, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Matt

    wow...it took such a long time for this to actually be addressed!!

    Do we really need to continue financing this reconstruction? I understand the argument that "we made this mess, we need to clean it up," but there comes a point when enough is enough. This war and reconstruction is going to cost us an estimated $3 trillion! That's certainly money that could be used back here...especially with the social security crisis looming.

    April 8, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Temitayo Gidado

    WOW. GOD BLESS THE DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA. WELL GOD ALREADY HAS BUT ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ACKNOWLDGE THE PERSON HE SENT TO SAVE US ALL. A DIFFERENT FORCE, THE MAN HIMSELF SEN. BARACK O'MA MAN!

    April 8, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Tex

    Absolutely, at $10 billion a month.

    April 8, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. gary

    HRC has the solution for the oil problem. She told everyone on the moring show. If the lost minded youth O.B. voters keep supporting a lost cause ,this country wont see no real changes.HRC is the only canidate to bring us the changes we need. O.B. hasn't said anything different in his speeches from day one.His smooth speeches is all what they are.He is just a talker ,no action or know how.I feel sorry for this country if O.B. gets elected from the youth votes and African American voters.They havn't got enough common scence to know a canidate for their life accomplishments ,track record and what they have really done for our country.O.B. has done nothing ,just turn his back after he gets votes ,from his own race.HRC has time after time been there for us. You young voters keep voting for an empty suit, and the biggest con man I have seen in yrs. Its up to you young people to think about our country and do the right thing ,not just because he fits in to your youth world.I dont want my life in the hands of a greenhorn that knows nothing about real changes,just a good speech. GO HRC.

    April 8, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. mep

    Of course we are being played for suckers...Bush and his regime are easy marks, even though they think they are the smart ones...Roll on November!

    April 8, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Jude

    We need to get out of Iraq ASAP because the cost is just wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy tooooooooooooooo muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. We're talking about TRILLIONS of dollars...Are you kidding me? Mr. McCain knows nothing about the economy and that's why he is unfit to be the next President! How are we going to pay the cost of the IRAQ occupation if we stay there for a 100 hundred years??? Vote Democrate...Vote Obama..Bring this war/occupation to an end.

    April 8, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. cris

    Iraqis are saving their money for future conflict against the US remember most of Iraqis are Iranian allies. There goes our tax dollar thanks to bush and cheney

    April 8, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. Ash Joseph

    Wolf, you want the Iraqi's to rebuild the country that the US tore down? I get it, engage in a war against Iraq to benefit US contractors and multinationals, bomb it with 'shock and awe', kill a million people, displace another million, and then expect the Iraqis to foot the bill.
    Yeah, i guess your right, I never looked at it that way.

    April 8, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. E Margetson

    think: "you broke it...you bought it..."

    April 8, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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