Thursday, May 10, 2007
Sex, Fraud, Sorcery - Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction
Sex, Fraud, Sorcery?
DEPARTMENT Washington Babylon
BY Ken Silverstein
PUBLISHED May 3, 2007
It was revealed yesterday that Stuart Bowen Jr., the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), whose responsibilities include uncovering misspending of Iraqi and U.S. funds, is now under investigation himself. From what I hear, the investigation, based on a complaint that former SIGIR employees filed last year with the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, concerns possible misspending by Bowen himself. Bowen is also accused of lesser crimes like dating on government time. A second senior SIGIR employee is accused of cooking the books as well as sorcery and sexual harassment.
The most serious allegation is that Bowen, a former aide to President Bush, may have violated waste and fraud rules in commissioning a print run of about 4,000 copies of a 4-color book telling the history of the SIGIR. The printing cost of the project is said to be roughly a quarter-million dollars, but it is alleged that the true cost is in the millions as a number of agency employees were assigned to work on the book. SIGIR also is said to have retained the Center for Strategic and International Studies to assist with the project, increasing costs even more.
Cruz reportedly told employees that she was a Wiccan who could cast spells on people, and said she preferred hiring young “hunks” to work in the office. She is also accused of propositioning junior employees in a crude fashion, once even proposing a threesome.
A question that arises here is why taxpayers should be footing the bill for this sort of self-congratulatory project. Bowen, I’ve heard, has expressed interest in running for congress in Virginia down the road; if he does, the book could be quite helpful in boosting his public profile. Bowen is also accused of long, frequent and unexplained absences from work, and doctoring time sheets to cover up the absences. Former employees accuse him of taking non-work related trips to Texas and France, but counting it as paid time.
Allegations were also made against Ginger Cruz, a senior SIGIR employee. (In late 2006, Cruz stepped down as deputy inspector general and took a communications posting at the embassy in Baghdad. After a very brief, disastrous tour—she was embarrassingly enthusiastic about the botched execution of Saddam Hussein—Bowen took her back as a senior adviser). Among the charges is that Cruz pressured an employee to come up with bogus numbers proving that SIGIR’s work had saved taxpayers some $10 billion, a figure that was used to justify the agency’s request of $30 million in the Fiscal Year 2007 budget. The true savings were said to be only in the tens of millions at best.
It’s hard to know what to make of some of the allegations I’m told are in the report; it’s possible that they are being made by people out to get Bowen and Cruz. But Bowen is apparently charged with spending many hours on www.match.com and arranging dates during work hours, and Cruz reportedly told employees that she was a Wiccan who could cast spells on people, and said she preferred hiring young “hunks” to work in the office. She is also accused of propositioning junior employees in a crude fashion, once even proposing a threesome.
SIGIR has done some excellent work and it’s possible that some of the allegations are coming from disgruntled employees. But some of the charges, especially those regarding the book project, look bad. I called SIGIR for to ask about the allegations. Spokeswoman Denise Burgess told me: “It is our standard policy not to confirm or deny ongoing investigations, either by SIGIR or other government agencies.”
Posted by lmurx at 11:06 AM