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Reform Jewish Leader Decries Planned Termination of Iraq Reconstruction Oversight Authority

    Pelavin: Oversight is an essential element of an efficient reconstruction effort, which is necessary for the success of the Iraqi state and what is due to the American taxpayers who are financing it.

     Contact: Allison Grossman or Rachel Slomovitz
                         202.387.2800 | news@rac.org


Washington, DC, October 23, 2006 – - In response to the President’s recent signing of the FY2007 Defense Authorization Act, which includes provisions terminating the tenure of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), Mark Pelavin, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Last week, the President signed the FY2007 Defense Authorization Act, which included a termination date of October 1, 2007 for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  We are deeply disappointed by this provision that indicates an inadequate recognition of the importance of proper oversight of funds for Iraqi reconstruction and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure and government projects such as transportation, healthcare, education, and security. The SIGIR has issued 73 audit reports with 243 recommendations for program improvement, and produced 65 project assessments. These reports have revealed misuse of funds, as in the case of the Basrah Children‘s Hospital Project, which exceeded its budget while failing to complete its mission.

As it says in the 2005 Union for Reform Judaism Resolution on the War in Iraq, we “call upon Congress to provide more diligent oversight of the war and the expenditures related to it.”  The authority given to the SIGIR provides it with the mandate to ensure such oversight, as well as transparency and ethical use of funds while working to rebuild Iraq.

As we continue to allocate billions of dollars for the war in Iraq, we must be careful how funds are being used, especially in the case of the reconstruction of such basic needs as electricity and water.  And with reports of increasing corruption within Iraq, the prospect for misuse of funds grows.  Oversight is an essential element of an efficient reconstruction effort, which is necessary for the success of the Iraqi state and what is due to the American taxpayers who are financing it. We call on our members of Congress and the Administration to show their commitment to the reconstruction of Iraq in words and deed.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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