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. Venus

    Hey Wolf – how about all the money VP-Cheney has made since the war ----- 22-billion dollars!

    April 8, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. pbj

    We were right to go in and now it's time to get out. The Iraqis will never stand up as long as we refuse to stand down - why should they? As for the prospect of civil war after we withdraw, that's on them, not us. If they can't resolve their differences in any other fashion, let them resolve them in the only way they know how - primitive, atavistic violence. If the Iranians and Saudis get dragged in, neither is any friend of ours and if oil supplies get disrupted, Venezuela is a whole lot closer and the supply lines a whole lot shorter.

    April 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. North Carolina

    Trekkie: Karl Rove would say "Pull a Capt. Kirk and change the rules. " We'll just say we've won and leave. Sooner or later you know it's going to happen.

    April 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Willy

    Wolf who?

    April 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. FB

    You break it, you buy it!

    US should have never invaded Iraq. Now that US is in there, US better clean up their own mess.

    We are suckers for having elected Bush in the first place. Then to re-elect him? What a Joke.

    We bought into his lies and half truths and we got ourselves into this mess...now we're doing the same with Hillary. These individuals do have experience in playing the game, but does that mean it benefits the country or their own agendas? It's about time US opened up it's eyes.

    April 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. Philip

    Why does it seem that our news reporters and personalities make much more sense than our politicians?

    We're being taken for a ride by the Iraqis....any other country that wants free money should just have terrorists come in and do their work from there....

    April 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. Kay-Arizona

    Thank you Wolf, its about time someone called it like it is.

    April 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Charles Neumann

    Pretty good Blitzer, we invade a country, destroy their infrastructure, kill their people destroy our military, we look bad to the world and while Cheny's old company Haliburton (on an uncontested illegal contract) reaps the profits of war. Now we want Iraq to pay to rebuild their country. A country that we invaded on false pretenses. How would we feel if our country was invaded by a foreign military force under false pretenses and was told it's your problem now because we spent our money to break your infrastructure, you spend your money to put it back together again.

    April 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. ds

    I don't mind us paying for the things we've destroyed–but c'mon. Most of the destruction these days is initiated by Iraq's own people or their fueding "guests".

    April 8, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. amie

    Pottery barn rule..........You broke it, you buy (fix) it

    April 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Philip

    Wolf -

    Can we dig deeper into this? It seems we should at least know how much we're being taken a ride for....

    April 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. tms

    only people that have nooooo money problems, at all, vote Republican....

    April 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. Philip

    The Iraqis seem to be better businessmen than politicians....they won't even invest in their own country!!!!

    April 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    PREACH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Terry, El Paso TX

    As Deepthroat advised Woodward and Bernstein: "Follow the money." Who controls it, who benefits from it, who is keeping the accounts?

    If Americans, Iraqis, a few Frenchmen, and a few Russians aren't skimming billions from those funds I will eat my Stetson.

    And if some of that loot isn't finding its way into American political campaign treasuries I will eat my boots.

    And if a good team of American auditors went through the books, they wouldn't find any books or I'll eat my spurs for dessert.

    April 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. dEMABRAT

    Let's remind our ourselves that our Government is there for their own interests, not for the good of the Iraqi people.

    April 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. Ashmead

    No one is playing the US Taxpayer for suckers. George Bush destroyed the Iraqi infrastructure, their security, their commerce, their family life and has put them in worse misery than before his 'pre-emptive strike'. The US broke it all; the US should pay to fix it all.

    April 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. Joe

    Its utterly unacceptable for the American taxpayer to foot the bill for reconstruction of Iraq. Come on America WAKE UP!

    April 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. Spencer

    Could you please have someone explain how the Iraq war can be "won"The concept is so niave in these circumstances to be laughable.
    The other issue being raised today is why the US shouls pay to rebuild schools etc. How about because we destroyed them.Du.

    April 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    That's not all they're playing us for and the rest of the world.

    April 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Those awful Iraqis, where is the gratitude? First we bomb their country, gut their infrastructure, disembowel the military and civilian governments thus leading to rule by strongmen and militia leaders. Over 2 million Iraqis have fled their country, hundreds of thousands have been killed, and they expect US to pay the bill for a war of choice that we have inflicted upon them? Go figure. I'm sure if the situation were reversed, Wolf, you would be the first in line to start paying for reconstruction fees. I wish you could spend a week in the shoes of an Iraqi before wailing about the high price of gas.

    April 8, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. EBC

    I want a REFUND NOW!! I want every penny taken out of my paycheck BACK.

    It's no wonder what we are viewed as idiots around the world. It's these stupid Bush/Cheney policies in Iraq. They keep putting their billions of oil dollars in the bank and YET our stupid President keeps paying them for doing absolutely NOTHING.

    Americans are working hard and trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table and gas in their cars and WE are paying the Iraqi people to clean up their own country!! Get outta here!!



    April 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. Arwa

    I had to sit down when I heard you stating that the Iraqis have a large savings account while we are taking out our checkbooks every day. I AM SPEECHLESS! SHAME ON OUR GOVERNMENT!

    April 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. vern anaheim,ca

    wolf,i can't believe that the american people can be so stupid,we are being taken for fools by the iraq goverment and we continue to spend million of dollars who will continue to play us for "suckers"as long as we allow them to.why kill the goose that laid the "golden egg"

    April 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. Joe

    Does anyone know how we (theamericantaxpayer) are actually paying for this war? Its all LOANS, Call your congressman and let your voice be heard. How can we afford "tax cuts" and still pay for dumya's..(sorry dubya's) war. ASK QUESTIONS PEOPLE.... CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES, LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10