Thursday, September 27, 2007

Working draft of classified State Department report: 'Iraq is not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anticorruption laws'

Above: A guard checks an oil tanker's identification card before letting it exit the the Baiji Oil Refinery, one of the three largest in Iraq and producing more than 75% of Iraq’s refined products. The facility employs more than 5,000 people, including security guards hired by the Oil Protection Force, which are all employed by Iraq’s Ministry of Oil. Because of problems with guards bribing and extorting drivers, the Oil Protection Force fires and hires at least 10 people each week.

'Classified' Iraq Corruption Report Posted Online

The State Department thinks the Iraqi government is larded with corrupt officials who protect their own at the expense of their country. But they don't want you to know they think that.

Amid a clash with Congress over details on the problem of corruption in Iraq, the State Department classified a previously unclassified new report which details the pervasiveness of fraud, intimidation and misdirection within Iraqi ministries.

However, the "Secret" stamp appears to have come down too late: a watchdog group obtained an early version of the report, stamped "Sensitive but Unclassified," and published it online...

How bad is it? The anticorruption advisor to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuses to disclose his own financial holdings, the report says. Routine investigative reports by government anti-corruption watchdogs "cannot be trusted to truthfully reveal criminal activity against anyone protected by the violent or the powerful."

Read the rest at ABC News

Executive Summary and Introduction to the Report


Not for distribution to personnel outside of the US Embassy in Baghdad Iraq

Working Draft

This report analyzes the ability of Iraq to enforce its anticorruption laws. It seeks to provide a snapshot of Iraq’s institutions created to fight corruption, the ability of the United States Government to support capacity building, and catalogue those actions which would provide an indication of the Iraqi will to take on the often painful reality of prosecuting ones political supporters.

It must be acknowledged that the enforcement of anticorruption laws is only a part of the anticorruption effort. Also included as a vital part are civil society efforts, transparency efforts, accountability efforts, economic reform, and public education. These essential programs are not within the scope of this report.


Currently, Iraq is not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anticorruption laws.

The study team conducted a comprehensive study of the cases in Commission on Public Integrity (CPI) and a review of the performance of the anticorruption institutions. CPI is currently a passive rather than a true investigatory agency. Though legally empowered to conduct investigations the combined security situation and the violent character of the criminal elements within the ministries make investigation of corruption too hazardous for all but a tactically robust police force with the support of he Iraqi government. Currently this support is lacking.

Within the ministries Inspectors General (IG) have repeatedly complained that fighting corruption is seen as an IG function alone and is not seen as a concern outside of that office. This lack of support has allowed corruption to be the norm in many ministries. Unarmed in the red zone subject to intimidation, reports submitted by the Inspectors General can not be trusted to truthfully reveal criminal activity against anyone protected by the violent or powerful.

The court system in Iraq remains weak, intimidated, subject to political pressure, and clogged with minor cases.

Reviews of the cases and interviews with CPI investigators and American advisors give a breakdown of the anticorruption efforts in the ministries that have provided 70% of the corruption complaints. The Ministry of Interior is seen by Iraqis as untouchable by the anticorruption enforcement infrastructure of Iraq. Corruption investigations in Ministry of Defense are judged to be ineffectual. With 196 complaints and only 8 being sent to court and only one person having been convicted in what is widely recognized as a troubled ministry, corruption investigations are clearly inadequate in the Ministry of Trade. The Ministry of Health is a sore point; corruption is actually affecting its ability to deliver services and threatens the support of the government. The lack of investigative capacity and the presence of militia make it beyond the reach of anticorruption efforts. The high number of dismissals in cases involving alleged political motivations indicates manipulation of the investigations within Ministry of Oil. CPI and the IG are completely ill-equipped to handle oil theft cases. Anticorruption cases concerning the Ministry of Education have been particularly ineffective. As is shown by the small number of investigations in the Ministry of Water Resources it is effectively out of the anticorruption fight with little to no apparent effort in trying to combat fraud. The number of referrals for prosecution and failure of even rudimentary cooperation support the contention that the Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs is hostile to the prosecution of corruption cases. Militia support from Sadr has effectively made corruption in the Ministry of Transportation wholesale according to investigators and immune from prosecution. In the Ministry of Displacement & Migration there has been only one investigation initiated or complaint made about any person identified with the Shia. Anticorruption activity efforts are in practical measure devoid in the Ministry of Science and Technology. In general, the lack of cooperation within the Ministry of Housing & Construction has left the anticorruption fight principally to CPI which is not capable of any sustainable campaign within that ministry. That there are so many complaints about NGOs that it leads to the conclusion that either NGOs are wrapped up in political intrigue or they are a significant contributor to the corruption problem. In the Ministry of Youth & Sports no cases have made it to trial because the minister has granted Article 136B immunity from trial on wholesale bases. The concentration on investigating people once they leave the ministry implies political protection for those currently within the Ministry of Electricity. Only one conviction has ever come from corruption cases in the entire city of Baghdad. In the Ministry of Finance the minister has developed a reputation for ruthlessness in applying the anticorruption laws to control his staff. CPI is powerless to prevent this type of abuse.

Lack of access to the ministries is the single biggest hurdle to prosecution of anticorruption cases.

The inability of CPI investigators to travel safely to and from the ministries in the red zone has so hobbled the agency it is relegated to relying almost entirely on IGs to conduct investigations. Because the IGs are subject to the same threat, anticorruption investigations are subject to tampering or political manipulation. Several ministries are so controlled by criminal gangs or militias as to be impossible to operate within absent a tactical force protecting the investigator. Though severely undermanned, CPI could vastly improve its anticorruption cases if it were not so dependant on unreliable ministry support.

CPI investigators have also suffered by recent attacks on their character. The withdrawal of apparent support by the top of the government has provided an intangible excuse to avoid compliance with the law by many in the Iraqi government.

In addition to the lack of capacity within the anticorruption agencies, politicization and fear of accountability are serious impediments to the enforcement of anticorruption laws.

The Prime Minister’s Office has demonstrated an open hostility to the concept of an independent agency to investigate or prosecute corruption cases. The Iraqi Government also withholds support and resources from CPI. There have been a number of identified cases where government and political pressure has been applied to change the outcome of investigations and prosecutions in favor of members of the Shia Alliance. Advisors have documented a pattern of pressure seemingly designed to hire personnel along political lines. There also has been a clear sectarian shift in those who have been appointed as IGs since the Shia Alliance has taken control of the government.

Across the board there is a fear by anticorruption agencies to any metrics that might indicate performance or the lack of it. There is a pattern of loose accountability and a lack of clear rules throughout the Iraqi Government. This lack of accountability and transparency has resulted in both promoting corruption and manipulation of the criminal justice system against otherwise innocent people.

The Government of Iraq is making grudging progress in capability to investigate and prosecute corruption in Iraq, but not at a level that would support any reasonable time line.

The average CPI investigator has proven him/herself adept at comprehending the training; diligent in applying the techniques taught in a lawful way; and highly interested in expanding their professional abilities and contributions. CPI’s 120 investigators do not have the numbers or the capacity to confront the job it is asked to do and is not being funded to a substantial increase. CPI has no formal means to handle internal security or discipline. This lack of a CPI IG or internal affairs department has placed in jeopardy the agency’s reputation. The Iraqi government is conducting a series of classes for the training of hundreds of inspectors general, but without an increase in numbers nor a means to conduct investigations absent intimidation their value may only be administrative in character. Without a commitment to withdraw partisan and sectarian politics from the selection of senior IG leadership, there is the likelihood that investigations will not have credibility. According to the figures supplied, BSA is not a major player in referring criminal investigations. The US Embassy has established the Office of Accountability and Transparency to provide direct support to the capacity building of CPI, the IGs and BSA. If adequately resourced this organization will provide the expertise needed to confront the stalled growth in capacity building. This agency can provide support where there is the political will which has waned over the last six months.


Corruption has been described through number of sources as one of the major hurdles the Iraqi government must overcome if it is to survive as a stable and independent entity. Corruption is identified as a funding and logistical source for the insurgency and the mainstay of unsanctioned armed groups which make up the militias and conduct attacks both against the Coalition forces and populations other than their own ethnic or sectarian groups. The Prime Minister of Iraq has repeatedly described the fight corruption as the second war in Iraq. The popular press has openly reported corruption as endemic to Iraq and all indications point to corruption as undermining the support of the population for Iraq’s government.

With the wide spread acknowledgement that corruption is a serious if not potential fatal threat to the government of Iraq this report is a comprehensive look at the state of Iraq’s anticorruption enforcement institutions. A six month review this report catalogues the progress of decline of those institutions in their capability and performance. In the last six month analysis the statistics showed a remarkable increase in the newly emerging institutions. In the time between January to July of 2006 the number of cases processed equaled the total cases of the year before.

The cases filed in June 2006 showed what appeared to be a sectarian concerning senior leadership but only in those ministries that changed hands as a result of the new government formed in May 2006. Leadership in those ministries suddenly found themselves subject to unsympathetic scrutiny by the ministry. Only two of those cases, the former Minister of Electricity and two cases from the Ministry of Defense have gone to trial. Most have stalled at the investigative court or after investigation been dismissed. By far most of the cases did not result in pretrial detention.

This report takes off from there tracking Iraqi performance and using the observations of US Personnel within CPI, interviews with Iraqi investigators, and a case review of the files. It should be noted that with 120 investigators and 20 US personnel providing training and mentoring this organization has proportionately closer supervision and scrutiny than any other institution in Iraq.

Read the entire Report at FAS

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