Lawmakers say Iraq reconstruction suffers from disorganization

Efforts to rebuild Iraq are suffering from a lack of interagency coordination, according to several lawmakers who recently visited the country.

During a House Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday, members of a congressional delegation that went to Iraq in late August told leaders of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the country's governing entity, that they had observed a number of organizational problems in the country during their trip.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the organizational structure in Iraq appeared to be "very chaotic," creating a "lack of certainty" on the ground for both U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.

Pomeroy said confusion about the organizational structure in Iraq continues. He cited recent news reports that the White House failed to consult Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when creating the Iraq Stabilization Group, a new coordinating body headed by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said he was dismayed by the lack of interagency coordination in Iraq. For example, the U.S. military is performing tasks that could easily be done by other agencies, such as training Iraqi police, border guards and customs officials, Tiahrt said.

Despite Tiahrt's concerns, he sided with the Appropriations Committee Thursday in approving an $87 billion supplemental spending bill for the military occupation and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill passed on a 47-14 vote.

Officials from the provisional authority who testified during Wednesday's hearing acknowledged the organizational problems in Iraq and said they are working to resolve them.

Bernie Kerik, who just returned from Iraq as chief of its Interior Ministry, said the provisional authority is specifically focusing on improving coordination when it comes to training Iraqis. He added that the Jordanian government has pledged to help train up to 75,000 Iraqi police and 15,000 border and customs agents.

Iraq's new governing council, which works in tandem with the Coalition Provisional Authority, also took criticism during the hearing from critics who say it does not adequately represent Iraq's diverse population.

"There should be immediate action to revise or override the current council makeup," said Alaa Haidari, an Iraqi-American who fled Iraq in the 1960s after being persecuted by the country's ruling Ba'ath Party. "It is almost the same as the outside exile leadership that was established with U.S. sponsorship in London before the defeat of Saddam," he said. "Most of the Iraqi people reject this leadership, but the U.S. is ignoring the reality of political power within Iraq. To let this continue will lead to serious and increasing political opposition and possibly even to military opposition on a wide scale."

Philo Dibble, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, said the council realizes it does not adequately represent the country and is working to change its composition.

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