The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Thursday, May 1

iraqi national congress

The USAID is improving the way they post information. But there's still too much squidginess. In the meantime, bpost has been trying to nail down how much financial support has gone to the Iraqi National Congress. There's what's been said. And then there's what's been written. But none of it really adds up. At least its consistent.

If you've been following the news of Iraq, you'll have come across the Iraqi National Congress and former exile, Ahmad Chalabi.

The Iraqi National Congress is an umbrella group of exiled dissidents who for years hoped to overthrow Saddam Hussein. It was created by the Rendon Group to facilitate funding of their efforts. The Iraqi National Congress was created in the sense that Rendon Group gave them a name--and then funneled a lot of money to them from the CIA.

Before we get into their funding history, you should know they have a multitude of monickers.
Iraqi National Congress
Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation
Iraqi National Congress Office of Mobilization and Coordination
In theory, its the second organization the US funds. Bpost hasn't actually seen the cancelled checks. To be consistent with how its been reported, bpost uses the INC instead of the more appropriate INCSF.

Between 1992 and 1996 the INC received roughly $12 million dollars thru the CIA to support covert operations against Saddam Hussein's regime. After a failed coup attempt that resulted in the deaths of almost 100 INC members operating outpost media transmitters in northern Iraq, US funding was stopped.

Support within the US for overthrowing the regime in Iraq did not end with the failed coup. In 1998, a group of politicians pressed for and passed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.
Sec 2 (12) On May 1, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-174, which made $5,000,000 available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for such activities as organization, training, communication and dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related purposes.

(A) Grant assistance to such organizations for radio and television broadcasting by such organizations to Iraq.
(B) There is authorized to be appropriated to the United States Information Agency $2,000,000 for fiscal year 1999 to carry out this paragraph.

(A) The President is authorized to direct the drawdown of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training for such organizations.
(B) The aggregate value (as defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of assistance provided under this paragraph may not exceed $97,000,000.
However, not much of the above funds found their way to the Iraqi National Congress. In fact, funding the INC became problematic. Money would be appropriated and announced, but smaller sums would actually be allocated. According to reports the INC received less than they were expecting the first two years:

$267,000 in 1999
$850,000 in 2000

During this time, and due to a rather ongoing problem of accountability within the INC, an additional $3.2 million in funding was handled thru Quality Support Inc. of Landover, Md. and $215,000 thru Burson-Marsteller.

Shortly after President Bush assumed office in 2001, efforts were made to see funding increased. But squabbling from the State Department over financial accountability continued to interfere. After conducting an audit (pdf) and making recommendations for room for improvement, the taps got looser on the money. By the end of 2001, the INC had received:

$4.3 million during the audit period of March 31, 2000 to May 30, 2001
$6 million after June 14, 2001

Just one month after the inauguration of George W. Bush, a rather innocuous and cryptic passage appeared in the Daily Telegraph in London on February 25, 2001 that warrants attention. According to the paper:
Members of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC) won American funding last week for a £21 million ($33.3 million US) plan to send exiles into the country to gather information and rebuild links with sympathisers in the armed forces. INC officials want the plan to be expanded to include military training and logistical support, although they do not expect President Bush to contemplate using American ground forces.
The only other reference to this funding is again in the Telegraph that reported it the first time. But the date coincides with reports that President Bush had asked his cabinet to analyze the US position on Iraq. By 2002 the INC were receiving funding again:

$2.4 million on January 30, 2002
$11.6 million on January 31, 2002, all of which may or may not have gone to the INC. Its unclear.

With the State Department still not comfortable with the financial responsibility of the INC, the Defense Department took over their funding in August. Ahmad Chalabi is a favorite of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which probably helps. Bet you feel reassured now.

President Bush sought to speed things up a bit and in December of 2002 signed a memorandum allocating the remaining funding to 6 Iraqi opposition groups that included the INC. How much funding was there to begin with? Questions, questions, questions.
I hereby direct the furnishing of up to $92 million in defense articles from the Department of Defense, defense services from the Department of Defense, and military education and training in order to provide assistance to the following organizations:

Iraqi National Accord
Iraqi National Congress
Kurdistan Democratic Party
Movement for Constitutional Monarchy
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
According to reports, so far in 2003 the INC has received:

$3.1 million on April 10, 2003 to operate broadcasts inside Iraq

Total to date: $43.9 million dollars (not including the £21 million)

But there's something bpost is not clear on and that's this report (see page 13) Iraq: US Efforts to Change the Regime from August 16, 2002. The report lists Unspecified Opposition Activities in its funding categories. It shows $25 million for 2002 in the Unspecified Opposition Activities column and a big zip in the INC column. But how can that be if the INC had already received at least $2.4 million before the August date of the report? Hmmm. If INC funding is included in that column in addition to their own column, then what else is included up column from the earlier years?

But wait, there's more. There are also education and training expenses. It is unclear where the expense should be assigned, but at least it is listed. Its so confusing. Announcements of appropriations. Announcements of delays on fundings. Reports showing money allocated and spent, not spent, might be spent, could be spent. Here a million, there a million. None of the numbers completely matching up with each other. If bpost listed each appropriation, announcement, change, new announcement, report, revised report, well, it would take pages.

Aaaahhh. Bureaucracies. It's so easy to slop around the numbers when it's not your money you're playing with. We'll probably never really know how much the INC has really received.

By the way, did we mention Ahmad Chalabi was convicted in absentia of embezzling $300 million dollars in Jordan?


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