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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.blitzeriowa.cnn.jpg caption=" 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)

    Just another example of dumb Dubya and the Repubican fail policies.

    April 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Belle

    I say give us (Taxpayers) our money back!

    If there was an agreement with Iraq about oil funding the war and reconstruction, it is high time to start helping with the bills!

    April 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Adam in Indy

    I'm sure this is the point where the Obamabots will say that barack was against the war the whole time although all he ever did about was give a speech... Obama is all about winning the war in Afganistan which explains why he hasn't held ONE hearing since chairing the subcommitee formed to deal with NATO's involvement in that war.... Give me a Break Barack!

    April 8, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Brian from California

    I agree that Iraqis need to step up to the plate and begin to pay with their oil reserves. The last thing we need is for a democrat to have another reason to raise our taxes, like NOBAMA desperately dreams of doing to the hard working amongst us.

    NOBAMA '08

    April 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Iraq will need that money for contracts with The Carlyle Group

    April 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |

    Of course we are being played. People either don't know or remember that the Bush-Bin Laden oil relationship goes way back. They are oil families and will use the citizens of the US as pawns to the oil they want. Two plus two equal four...DUH-BYA!

    April 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. Terry from VA

    Well put!!! The questions is Wolf, are you going to take responsibility for supporting the need for this war? Probaly not! You and your comrades and colleauges mis informed the American public when they counted on you for balanaced reporting instead of the parroting you did before the invasion and occupation.

    April 8, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This is proof also that the U.S. is on the wrong track. We need to focus on education; technolgy and science. War is not innovative and responsive to our future and the future of our children. Americans need to wake up and 5 or 10 years later is too late. We must have a president who has a vision for our future globally, there is no future in war.

    April 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Skipper

    They learned if from the best, Bush, Cheney, and Halliburton.

    April 8, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. SPP

    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.

    Yes...Why should they ?

    Uncle Sam destroyed their bridges, schools and hospitals so he pays to fix em..

    April 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Woodgate

    Oh Wolf, you crazy Israeli Lobbyist... You wanted this war and now you're getting the American people reved up against the Iraqis and thier horrible situation

    April 8, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. John B. in Miami

    These are the things we're not supposed to know about. If most people did, or at least remembered from when we were promised them, there would be rioting in the streets. The issue of impeachment would be secondary to a lynch mob for The Shrub and VP Halliburton.

    April 8, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Terrell

    pOST MY cOMMENT!...

    They are playing us for fools. I think you underestimated there profits and surplus. EXON made that amount in a 1/4. They're justifying the money saying that it used at home to build weapon's, clothes, etc. but in actuality they got caught out sourcing the work.

    Come on People ..WAKE up!

    Stop being sheep. Do research and stop listening to right wing or left wing extremist.

    April 8, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. lightbulb

    Gee, you think that maybe some people are finally starting to wise up after 6 years?

    April 8, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Michael

    This article is for all you democrats who they are going to vote for McCain if their nominee does not win. Wake up and get over yourselves. We need a democrat in the WhiteHouse.

    April 8, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. Herman LA, CA

    What a disgrace to the American people we are fools and should not stand up for this any longer, you republicans should be shame of your self’s to want to keep this going. This is costing each U.S. family on average $100 per day Wow....






    April 8, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Nicknas

    BUSH is Letting them ....so....this is old news.

    A REAL US President would have told Iraq that they were going to have to PAY us to help them NOT charge our Army FULL RETAIL PRICE for the Gas we use to drive around protecting them.

    Bush has done NOTHING with the powers we gave him to help US.

    April 8, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Stephanie, PA

    What a shock! Will someone please send this report to the McCain camp.

    We have to get out of this war. I don't want to be there for 100 years of reconstruction and peace-keeping!

    April 8, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    hey cheyney wheres the money going

    April 8, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. mitch from ark.

    another bush blunder that will add to his legacy,of being the worst president in this nation's history.

    April 8, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Midge from Ohio

    Iraq doesn't need to bomb us. They will ruin this country by taking our money and soldiers.......

    April 8, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. Monte Brown

    The Iraqis are playing the U.S. taxpayers for suckers. They need to sell us some of that oil. They're sitting on all that money and oil and we are paying. That's not fair.

    April 8, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. gerry

    Iraq is using the Bush/McCain credit card. Why would they change?

    April 8, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. brad

    That is so sad. Hope it isn't true but probably is. How pathetic.

    April 8, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. Richard, FL

    Of course, they are playing us for suckers and the biggest sucker of all is Bush. Next comes the 30%ers who refuse to look at truth. While Iraq makes billions, Bush has nearly doubled our national debt. It has been 1,800 days since "Mission Accomplished". We have tens of thousands more troops in Iraq now, but are only making "fragile" progress while our troops die. Bush has sent over 1,000 more Americans to die in a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 than died in 9/11. Our "childrens do learn" president is a miserable failure.

    April 8, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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