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October 30, 2003
Let's see how long this will last

American military commanders are using confiscated Hussein funds to speed the reconstruction of Iraq:

The speed and ease with which reconstruction money is being handed out by the military here contrasts sharply with the delays and controversy surrounding the handling of major reconstruction funds by the Pentagon and U.S. Agency for International Development.

The fact that the money comes from seized Iraqi assets, the Saddam Hussein regime's overseas bank accounts and cash stockpiles found in palaces and the walls of government buildings in Iraq has provided a fortuitous loophole. Since the money was not appropriated by Congress, officials of the U.S.-led occupation government in Iraq believe that it does not have to be disbursed under the usual contracting regulations.

The money for most military projects in Iraq goes through something called the commander's emergency response program. About $100 million has been allocated so far and the 101st Airborne Division, which oversees northern Iraq, has spent about $31 million of it. It has been used, officials said, for more than 11,000 projects such as hiring a civil defense corps, patching roads and fixing an oil refinery and a sulfur plant.

So far, according to the Post, this program has been a fabulous success, both in the speed of the reconstruction and in showing that the US military presence is intended to be helpful to ordinary Iraqis. While there is risk in this process of misdirected funds or inefficiency in effort, this is a small distribution channel and shouldn't be closed down in favor of a single, large bureaucracy. A combination of efforts will hasten the return to normalcy for Iraqis and ensure the broadest benefit of US aid. Hats off to the Post for featuring this good news from Iraq. (via Instapundit)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 30, 2003 7:49 AM

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