The AP reports on a $40 million prison compound built in Iraq with American taxpayer money that is basically useless.
In the flatlands north of Baghdad sits a prison with no prisoners. It holds something else: a chronicle of U.S. government waste, misguided planning and construction shortcuts costing $40 million and stretching back to the American overseers who replaced Saddam Hussein.
“It’s a bit of a monument in the desert right now because it’s not going to be used as a prison,” said Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, whose office plans to release a report Monday detailing the litany of problems at the vacant detention center in Khan Bani Saad.
The pages also add another narrative to the wider probes into the billions lost so far on scrubbed or substandard projects in Iraq and one of the main contractors accused of failing to deliver, the Parsons construction group of Pasadena, Calif.
“This is $40 million invested in a project with very little return,” Bowen told The Associated Press in Washington. “A couple of buildings are useful. Other than that, it’s a failure.”
In the pecking order of corruption in Iraq, the dead-end prison project at Khan Bani Saad is nowhere near the biggest or most tangled.
Bowen estimated up to 20 percent “waste” — or more than $4 billion — from the $21 billion spent so far in the U.S.-bankrolled Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. It’s just one piece of a recovery effort that swelled beyond $112 billion in U.S., Iraqi and international contributions.
Conservatives get furious if some Americans game the system and take advantage of social programs. Where’s the outrage for wasting up to $4 billion on useless projects in Iraq?