Iraq rebuild effort marred by $9 billion loss, auditor says

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WASHINGTON — The United States lost at least $9 billion of taxpayer money set aside to rebuild Iraq, as poor planning and weak oversight allowed waste and fraud to permeate the nine-year, $60.5 billion effort, according to a government watchdog.

Miscues by both the Bush and Obama administrations set the stage for as much as $8 billion in waste on rebuilding since 2003, according to Stuart Bowen, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. At least an added $1 billion was lost to fraud, taking the potential loss from allocated funds to 15 percent of the total, he said.

Bowen’s findings, contained in a 171-page report released today, may rekindle the debate about the origins and results of the Iraq war as the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion approaches later this month. The report focuses on the cost to rebuild Iraq, much of which was included in the $729 billion that the Pentagon says it spent on operations in the country.

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