Money for nothing?

Condi, you're doing a heck of a job.

Published October 23, 2007 12:41PM (EDT)

When George W. Bush said during his 2005 State of the Union address that "taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not at all," we vowed to pack those words away and pull them out again whenever the occasion warranted.

The occasion warrants.

As the New York Times reports this morning, the State Department cannot say "specifically what it received" for the $1.2 billion it has given to a company that was supposed to be building training facilities and deploying trainers for Iraqi police.

The problem is in the records -- they're in "disarray," the Post says -- and in the lack of oversight from State. The audit finds that State had all of two employees overseeing the $1.2 billion and 700 contractors in Iraq -- a level of supervision Iraq reconstruction inspector general Stuart W. Bowen Jr. calls "pretty weak."

How poor was State's oversight? This poor: As the Post explains, State initially told auditors that as part of its Iraq contract, DynCorp had billed the government $1.8 million for an X-ray scanner it never used and spent nearly $400,000 to put company executives in hotels rather than in existing living facilities. That's bad, but it gets worse: It turns out the expenditures weren't even made in Iraq; they were made in Afghanistan, which is, like, a totally different country.

But no worries now, because the State Department is totally on top of the problem -- and sometime within "three to five years," it says it will be able to square the payments it has made to DynCorp with whatever services it may have received from the company.

All of which reminds us of something else the president once said: Condi, you're doing a heck of a job.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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