Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Abu Ghraib torture: Bush pledge to raze prison and build a new one turns to farce 

And it only took what, two days?

To begin with, there's no money budgeted for it:

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said U.S. taxpayers will finance a second prison to replace Abu Ghraib. She said there is sufficient flexibility within the $18.4 billion in Iraq reconstruction aid approved in October to build the prison.

But Tim Rieser, a Democratic aide on the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which is monitoring the reconstruction, said Bush would have to consult Congress on such a large transfer of money. "For all intents and purposes, the money is not there," Rieser said.

Just for the administration's reference, that would be the Congressional power of the purse.

Then, because Bush butchered security for the occupation, the prison that was budgeted for is way behind schedule:

The [previously budgeted] prison in Nasiriyah is already behind schedule, occupation documents indicate. In January, occupation authorities said they would direct $33 million to the project. By April, nothing had been spent. The occupation authority cited only one accomplishment in its latest report to Congress: approval of "the initial scope of work for the new prison."

Finally, if Bush doesn't want to spend more money, he'll have to cut something. But what?

But unless the White House breaks its pledge not to ask for more reconstruction money, the additional prison construction funds will have to come from other projects -- a potential public relations problem. Members of Congress have already questioned the administration's shift of $213 million from drinking water and democracy-building projects to administrative expenses and U.S. Embassy operations.
(via WaPo)

Oh, don't you love it? It's 105 in the shade in Baghdad, and Bush cuts the money for drinking water. And look at the bait-and-switch on democracy!

Meanwhile, Froomkin writes that some Iraqis want to make the prison into a museum, not raze it, the IGC says razing the the prison is a waste of money, and none of the Iraqis think a new prison will make up for the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Can someone explain what the Bush team was thinking when they put this boondoggle into Bush's speech? The only concrete proposal, and already it's right down the tubes.

Hey, here's an idea! Instead of sending Iraqis to prison, let's send them to Mars!

UPDATE The Iraqis aren't stupid, you know:

On Tuesday, Ahmed Hassan al-Uqaili, deputy chief of the Human Rights Organization in Iraq, dismissed Bush's promise as a Republican ploy "to win the (presidential) election in the United States."
(via AP)

Translation: "How stupid does Bush think we are?" A question more of us in this country should be asking?

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