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)
  1. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Another Blunder for the Bush party> Not little Blunders! They are
    all huge blunders that have robbed the American people of many
    of American possessions.

    That is more than sad. It is unforgivable. It is of utmost importance
    that another Bush and Cabinet get that opportunity again. It should
    have never happened in the first place. Miserable Republicans have
    robbed our land and our good people.

    April 8, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. B. Beasley

    Are you kidding? Of course the Iraqis are playing us for suckers!
    And at the expense of our crumbling infrastructure and poor economy.
    How do we get out of this nightmare created by Bush and the NeoCons?

    April 8, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |

    I just have one question, why haven't we, the United States impeached Mr. Bush yet?

    April 8, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Ron, TX

    This should be at the top of the ticker.

    April 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. al

    Suckers ??? – That's an UNDERSTATEMENT. Try another word. The ENTIRE government of Iraq once lived in exile right across the border in Iran and you EXPECT them to turn away from the hand that FED them ?? You are just doing the Iranians a favor.

    Anybody knows why the soviets left Afganistan ?? They got BANKRUPT and could not fund the war ANYMORE.

    Guess where we are HEADED

    Suckers is a nice word.

    April 8, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. We are Suckers!

    Wolf we've gotten played as suckers by our own government over the last 7yrs some would say more, so i do not find this surprising. Yet McCain wants to continue down the same path to nothingness for a meaningless war that we now have the nerve to say we should stay, yea of course we want to stay to fix a mess created. The problem with this strategy is that it will never work, these people don't lay down for anyone. They will decide when it is time to come together, we have cement walls blocking two race of people and we call that an improvement, didn't this happen in East Germany ,a wall separting people because of race and religion, that worked out real well.

    April 8, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Michael Lorton, Virginia

    The United States is being deceived. Iraq lead the US to believe that they were going to partially fund the war, and that "art of pleasing" is now their the art of deception. Iraq'concealed their own defects, by discovering the weaknesses of the US. We will never see a dime of that money.

    April 8, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Von S.

    Of course they are taking us for suckers; and at the expense of our infrastructure and economy. We are borrowing money to rebuild Iraq and ordinary Americans are suffering.

    How can we get out of this nightmare in which the Bush Administration and the NeoCons got our country into?

    April 8, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Jose go home

    not another group playing the system

    April 8, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. Dude!

    Threaten to pull the troops out, as they keep crying they need them, until they start either 1) doing it themselves or 2) reimbursing us for the money we've spent. Why should they get the freeby? We already did the dirty work of fighting their war for them. My tax money pays for too much crap over here that I shouldn't have to pay for their crap over there. They get their gasoline for pennies on the dollar, too. They are playing us for the liberal pansy feel-good suckers we are as a nation.

    April 8, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Graeme Glasgow

    Big surprise big surprise- this story finally made it to the CNN headlines... something we've all known was occuring, especially when serving in Iraq.

    April 8, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. Dave in Atlanta

    What do you expect? Telling the Iraqis that we are going to stay in Iraq indefinetly regardless of what progress they make is like telling an unemployed person on welfare that they can continue to draw welfare checks forever regardless of whether they find a job or not. They have little incentive to look for work, and even when they do find work they are still going to keep cashing the welfare checks.

    The Iraqi government is in a fine position right now. US troops are in Iraq, and the republican government wants to keep them there. But they know that the more the violence gets out of control the more support for the war drops at home. On the other side on the Iraqi people who seem to resort to violence every time it looks like the pace of reconstruction isn't fast enough for them. So to keep the reconstruction going and to keep the country from bursting into flames, the US government decides to foot the bill for the reconstruction. The Iraqi government doesn't care because as long as the Republicans are in power they don't have to pay for their own reconstruction.The republican administration actually has a stronger incentive that the Iraqi government to see the reconstruction continue so they continue to foot the bill to keep up the impression that Iraq is making progress. If some day the US wakes up and decides to ask the Iraqis to pay for their own projects, well they are saving up their oil revenue right now and they will have plenty of funds.

    April 8, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. jt

    I would try to take as much money from my invader too. Can't get the 100,000+ iraqi lives back. Why not ask the US to pay for a little reconstruction?

    April 8, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. Bernadine Platen

    Are we really sure that the money has all gone to the Iraqis or has it wandered back to the States through the likes of Blackwater and Halliburton?

    Are the Iraqis making fools of us or are we largely making fools of ourselves?

    April 8, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  15. Ed Olanrewaju - Virginia

    It just shows you the lies of this administration. Here we are mortgaging the lives of our children to pay for the reconstruction of another country that has billions saved in several banks all over the world. What ireks me most is that these billions comes form the sales of their oils that we are paying dearly for in the form of $3.30 from the pump. That means the Iraqi's are sucking it to us twice. We paying to rebuild their country and we also paying a lot at the gas pump so that they can store billions of their own money at the bank.

    If that does not make us Americans mad to booth this administration from power, then I don't know what would.

    Yet we have this old man Mccain asking us to stay in Iraq for ever if we need to. No More, let's send Washington a message that we are no fool.


    April 8, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. xtina

    I have a suggestion for Congress then, if people think we're spending too much tax money in Iraq. Why don't the Senators suspend the federal gasoline tax? That would help the avg. American in a real and immediate way.

    April 8, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  17. Key West Sun

    Maybe those people were right; WAR FOR OIL, just didn't tell us we were going to pay for it twice. Easy choice here, pullout now,we leave the oil, our money and thier bank deposits there for Iran. Isn't life easy for the anti war crowd.
    Well guess I now will have the Obama people agree with me.
    Oh! forgot to say maybe we could leave some flowers and a nice card for them to, I'm sure they will send us a thank you note. Let the change begin. Sorry, I forgot to put in anything about hope.

    April 8, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. Mike

    The American people and Lawmakers should have listened to OBAMA in 2002 when he gave that SPEECH!!!

    April 8, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Still Crazy After All These Years

    "With God On Our Side"-Bob Dylan, now recognized by the Pulitzer Prize givers as having an influence over society and politics."People get ready there's a change a comin'. Don't need no ticket You just get on board"-Curtis Mayfield

    April 8, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Is America everybody's fool? Thank you Mr. Bush. Iraq has billions
    of dollars in banks and our money went to China????????????
    Oh, my God, Help us. Help us Lord.

    April 8, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Anna

    It is the Congres people who voted for the war who are playing the American taxpayer for suckers.
    This was poor judgement on their part.
    Now they blame the Iraqi government, Iran, Sunni, Shiite. Anyone but their poor knowledge base in international affairs and Islamic countries. In addition they actually believed that this would bring democracy to the Middle East. They believed the Bush Admin.
    Democracy is not bought, not forced. Democracy comes from the bottom up, not the top down.

    April 8, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. FREE

    I say let them go to hell in a hand basket, it's their country, let them take control. And so what if there's a power vacuum and Al Queda takes over, with our troops out it will be easier to smoke 'em all with one big bomb, without getting any of our guys in the process.

    And every single f='in death that has and will occur should be laid at the feet of G.W. Bush and Rove and Wolfowitz, and Cheney and company, they will have to answer for this.

    April 8, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. TN

    Quite apart from the economic cost, each day we continue this war, there are hundreds more extremists being recruited.

    April 8, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

    Look these people have money, and nothing better to do than stand around on a corner all day. We have seen for ourselves when a welfare state is allowed, it is the downfall of the welfare recipients. They need to be made to build their country back with their own money and thier own hands. That is the only way they will be invested in the outcome.
    Democracy can't and won't ever work unless all citizens have a stake in how thier own country turns out. They need something to do, and something to believe in. America seems to have to learn over and over again........a welfare state simply keeps the reciever beholden to the giver, with no real stake in the end results.

    April 8, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. obama 08

    Elect Obama.

    April 8, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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