Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Must Be Misreading This

Today's Washington Post reports:
Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

The article also states that:
The first concrete program officials announced in October 2005 -- a $66 million contract to a consortium of 10 faith-based and charity groups to provide social services to displaced families -- so far has assisted less than half the 100,000 victims it promised to help, the project director said.

The group, led by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, has spent $30 million of the money it was given to aid about 45,000 evacuees. Senate investigators are questioning some terms in the contract proposal, including a provision to pay consultants for 450 days to train volunteers for the work the committee was paid to do.

I don't believe that one faith-based group has administered three quarters of the aid that's actually been spent, but it's still troubling. I understand that the U.S. government isn't used to receiving foreign aid and might have trouble administering the aid that it received. However, the Bush administration didn't seem to have trouble funneling the aid that it did accept to its political allies. Yes, I'm assuming that the faith-based groups that receive Bush administration money tend to be composed of politically active conservative churches. I have no problem with religious leaders being involved in either local or national politics, I do have a problem with religious leaders having any involvement with the spending of government money at either the national or local level. At any rate, the American press occasionally runs stories about American aid to poor Islamic countries getting funneled to fundamentalist Islamic groups with ties to the governments of those countries. I wonder if we'll see similar stories in newspapers in Islamic countries..

There was another item that might or might not be related to political connections:
In another instance, the Department of Homeland Security accepted an offer from Greece on Sept. 3, 2005, to dispatch two cruise ships that could be used free as hotels or hospitals for displaced residents. The deal was rescinded Sept. 15 after it became clear a ship would not arrive before Oct. 10. The U.S. eventually paid $249 million to use Carnival Cruise Lines vessels.

Maybe the Greek ships just don't got the fun. To be fair, I should include one more link.

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