- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2007

Conservative House Democrats yesterday announced a plan to investigate the awarding of contracts in Iraq, as the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparred over President Bush’s new war strategy.

“It’s long past time that we kept track of the money and the weapons that we’re giving to the Iraqis and replace the waste, fraud and abuse with proper oversight, responsibility and accountability,” said Rep. Patrick J. Murphy, Pennsylvania Democrat.

Mr. Murphy and the coalition Blue Dog Democrats drafted a resolution demanding a detailed accounting of where the $400 billion spent so far on the Iraq war has gone and where future expenditures will go.

It also would require that future requests by the administration for war money go through Congress’ normal budget channels as opposed to the special “emergency supplemental” requests that bypass regular congressional appropriations.

“We’re spending $8.4 billion a month in Iraq, $12 million an hour in Iraq,” Rep. Mike Thompson, California Democrat, said. “We owe it not only to the American taxpayers … but most important, we owe it to the men and women who are putting their life on the line in Iraq to make sure that money’s being spent appropriately.”

A number of government oversights — including an Iraq special inspector general, the Pentagon inspector general and the military service’s own financial watchdogs — are stationed in-country. They have produced scores of reports and audits on U.S. spending.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Pelosi said Mr. Bush is swiftly enacting his plan to move 21,000 troops into Iraq solely to prevent opponents on Capitol Hill from blocking the new war strategy.

“The president knows that because the troops are in harm’s way, that we won’t cut off the resources; that’s why he’s moving so quickly to put them in harm’s way,” she said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The White House yesterday labeled Mrs. Pelosi’s comments “poisonous.”

Despite a pledge from the president and top Democrats to seek middle ground and try to work together, majority leaders are now engaging in “a sound-bite war,” Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said.

“[I]t’s certainly not in keeping with the bipartisan spirit and civility that the Democrats pledged and that we looked forward to, and the president will again call for that in his State of the Union address,” she said.

Mrs. Pelosi also said that Mr. Bush “has dug a hole so deep he can’t even see the light on this. It’s a tragedy. It’s a stark blunder,” but she refused to say how Democrats would improve the situation.

“[I]t’s the president’s war, and he’s the one without a plan,” she said.

The White House struck back fiercely on that comment, too.

“To say that this is only the president’s war makes a mockery of the notion that when we are a nation at war, we should all hang together,” Mrs. Perino said.

“The president really hopes that in this time of an epic struggle against radical Islam, that when we are facing an enemy that is determined to hurt us in Iraq and to hurt us here at home, that we can come together and be constructive.”

Mr. Murphy, an Iraq war veteran elected to Congress in November, said 20 cents of every dollar that’s been spent in Iraq cannot be accounted for. And much of the money that has been accounted for was wasted, he said.

Taxpayers, for instance, spent $75 million to build a police academy in Baghdad.

“You know what they’re going to do with it?” Mr. Murphy asked. “They’re tearing it down.”

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