Tuesday, February 15, 2005

When Greed Defeats Human Decency

Fighting corruption is the duty of all men for it is a battle between the evils of greed and the spirit of human decency. When the UN oil-for-food controversy surfaced, a core group of Republicans in Congress demanded an extensive and transparent investigation into corruption charges against UN personnel. Although those calls may have been somewhat politically motivated, it was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do because public officials have a moral and legal duty to expose fraud and hold those who breach the public trust accountable for their actions. It is after all, accountability and the rule of law that are the strongest tenants of democracy. What is disappointing is that the standard somewhat changes when allegations of corruptions are found in our midst. It is easy for a U.S. Congressman to be vocal about allegations of corruption in the UN, an institution that was made to be unpopular in the US recently, but it is a whole different story to call for the investigation of those you call your own.

Recently, whistleblowers have come forward accusing the U.S. provisional authority in Iraq of "misusing" millions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues to the benefit of U.S. firms. One thing strikes me immediately is the use of words to cover such stories in the U.S. media. If it is a U.S. soldier sodomizing an Iraqi detainee with a falshlight (a practice documented in Army investigation reports), we call it "Abuse" not "Torture". If it is a U.S. official who diverts millions of dollars in Iraqi funds to U.S. firms in bogus contracts we call it "Misuse of funds" and not "Corruption". May I remind you that this is exactly what the world sees as American hypocrisy, further compromising U.S. credibility in the world.

The U.S. Congress must step forward and thoroughly investigate allegations of corruption against the CPA and the U.S. firms who were the beneficiaries of CPA contracts. Using the same standard they used against the UN, Republicans must have the decency to pursue the whole truth in investigating these charges. They should show the world that they care about the values they advocate even when it means exposing their own failings. They must demonstrate to the Iraqis and the whole world that the same standard that applies to American life and American assets also applies to Iraqi life and Iraqi assets.


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