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. denis

    Does this story remind anyone of the play "THE MOUSE THAT ROARED"?
    Well, here it is in real life. We should tell the people of America that die because they cannot afford the needed medications [or maybe the homeless that have been foreclosed upon]... that they died for the Iraqi people!

    April 8, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. cnn rocks

    wolf,its time the american people and the media stand up for what is right,we must join together and end this war.i am currently in europe and any time i say i am american pple either laugh or accuse us of killing innocent iraqis.pls publish ur article on huff post the world must know.

    April 8, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. ben

    Yes, we are being played for suckers. Not by the Irakies, but by the oil companies. Who sets the oil prices anyway? Our own oil companies do!
    they say we have to raise gasoline prices because the price of crude oil keeps going up.Yet they show the greatest profits ever in history.
    Why doesn't congress do anything about this farce? The reaon is simple, they don't do anything that might offend the oil companies, because if they do, the oil giants would make sure the would not get elected the next time they run for office. Politicians do not run our government. Giant coorperations do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yet politicians keep yapping about democracy!

    April 8, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Wisconsin for Obama

    dEMABRAT April 8th, 2008 2:50 pm ET wrote ............

    Didn't Sen. Clinton say this in a debate over 2 months ago?
    Anything she says about that war is irrelevant now. The damage has already been caused and we dont think we want to know what she thinks at this point. She had an opportunity to make sure this war is not there in the first place so please respect the american people and talk to them like adults.

    April 8, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. P

    After two tours in Iraq I noticed that none of the money is going to the people and any projects were financed by U.S.

    April 8, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Jeannie V

    Good for Mr. Blitzer. Its about time mainstream media puts out a story with a realistic spin. Now lets just get it on tv for the folks who do not like to read their news. I was about to give up on CNN.

    April 8, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. Curtis - Marietta, GA

    Yet we keep holding on to our policy in Iraq so tight and hope that one day they will come around, start waiving American flags while eating a hot dog and drinking a coke slushy.

    Most Iraqis never wanted us there, they still don't wan us there...so why would they pay for our "goals". Now, this war may very well bring down America as we know it and you quote me on that!

    April 8, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Spirit of America

    Of course, the Iraqis are playing the US taypayer for suckers. But the Israelis have been doing so for far longer at far higher cost. Can we all get a refund for our support of military regimes in the Middle East?

    April 8, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. Dave

    ummm...it should not say Iraqis playing US for suckers. it's the US leaders playing us for suckers.

    April 8, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Raymond

    John Smith ~ "As a Catholic, I will continue to say the Rosary for anyone who votes for Hillary. Great nations such as the Roman Empire, fell because of lack of "morality, integrity, lies and so on." These types of moral issues are more important than "wealth." With all their wealth, the Clintons cannot fund their campaign?"

    As a Catholic, I will pray for you as well that your blinders be taken off so you may see the atrocities committed by this administration and their orgy of greed and excess.

    April 8, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. carolflowery

    I agree Iraq should step up, and if any of you were watching the on hill goings on today, you would know they are trying to take up more of the money slack, and since when did Wolf Blitzer start running for President

    April 8, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. Grant

    Well, we did blow up all their bridges and roads, come to think of it! Lets do the math, Iraq (armpit of the world) has $50B in the bank, and the glorious USA is $2,000,000,000,000.00 in debt...no wonder everyone in the developed world laughs at us.....sure we have alot of everything, but none of it is paid for! As we are painfully becoming aware of now, since our bills are coming due!

    April 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. 180degrees

    Voting Obama '08!

    Thanks Hillary 4 making it possible 4 me to give my depreciating

    dollars to such a worthy cause!

    April 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. jason

    so, republican got us into this war. i don't understand how anyone could trust the republicans to get us out.

    does it really take so little to fool you people?

    April 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Gerry

    I would say that it is our responsibility to fix it since we did the original damage except that after we fix it they blow it up again. When that happens we are no longer responisble. Get the US out of Iraq now.

    April 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Stacy Clarks,






    April 8, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Trekkie

    It's a "Kobayashi Maru," a no-win situation. We should have stayed out of the Neutral Zone.

    April 8, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. CJ

    I think it is long overdue for this administration to be made to be held accountable for their disastrous actions over the last eight years. We have all suffered greatly at the hands of this poor leadership. What a waste.

    April 8, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. james

    WHY-because we have a less than half wit chimp for president and a congress that should all be fired.

    April 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Dennis Clark

    Let's step back for bit and forget all the political posturing, and the "you broke it" rheotoric from the idiots. The very plain truth is that this is just another in the long list of lies and deception that the neocons have fed us for the last 6 years. The war has been a farce from the start. Where have all the sixties war protesters gone. Let's
    get back in the streets, and show the buffoons in Washington that there is power in the people.

    April 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Cyril

    Terry from VA: Thank you for your comment. That is exactly how I feel about this issue as well. The press really let the American people down and they need to step up and apologize for how badly they let us down.

    April 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Now we know

    The reason most news agencies won't report anything bad about Obama, even the truth, is because lots of them are getting death threats if they do.

    It's not just that they are against Hillary, they are afraid to say anything else

    April 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. Charles Mulhern

    it seems ridiculous to me that some people think that we will be in Iraq for a hundred years. It doesn't matter who wins the White House. I think that we will be there only as long as we continue to pour the wealth of our country in to Iraq. As soon as the money flow ends we we be asked to leave and Iraq and Iran will be closer than Cuba and Venezuela. Then the Sunni will have hell to pay at the hands of the Shia. Amazing what can happen when you start a war without a plan and an understanding of the region involved.

    April 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. Grant

    In response to an earlier comment, Canada is actually the third largest producer of the worlds oil, some say it could be number 2. They are are the largest supplier to the US and can easily cover off our import needs...I bet no one knows this?! Why are we even caring about the crackpots in the middle east?

    April 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. Bud Curtis

    Iraq, and the rest of the world, are playing by the rules we set up. We decided to "go it alone", in all of our arrogance. We broke it, now we have to fix it.
    I am also bothered by the fact that the surge was intended to allow the Iraq government the breathing room they needed to find the political solution, since it was pretty much agreed that there is no military solution to the Iraq issues. But like everything else from the Bush administration, that is water under the bridge, so the issue is off the table.
    What a fine mess we have gotten ourselves into. But let's not change courses, lest we find ourselves labeled as unpatriotic.
    Bud Curtis
    Miami, OK

    April 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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