Bowen's interviews with influential Iraqis reveal, however, that they don't seem to have noticed all this investment or don't seem grateful. One reason
might be that households -- as recently as 2011 -- still got an average of only 7.6 hours of electricity a day, and a sixth of Iraq's citizens lacked access
to potable drinking water for more than two hours a day.
Both U.S. and Iraqi officials complained to Bowen that not enough was done during the occupation to stem corruption. An Iraqi government watchdog agency,
the Board of Supreme Audit, noted last year that $800 million in profits from illicit activities was being transferred out of Iraq each week, effectively
stripping $40 billion annually from the economy, according to Bowen's report.
There are exceptions to the tales of fraud and waste. A State Department-funded childhood vaccination program helped cut the national infant-mortality rate
by nearly three-quarters. The Baghdad rail station was repaired on time and under budget. And telecommunications repairs have enabled mobile phone use to
climb from 80,000 to 23 million subscribers.
But U.S. dreams of fostering a thriving, Western-style economy in the Middle East have not been realized. Almost all of Iraq's gains have come from oil
production, which is now roughly a third greater than it was in 2003. The oil industry is not a big employer, however, and "Iraq is still far from having a
vibrant, market-based private sector," Bowen reports.
Moreover, its military still "lacks critical capabilities in logistics, intelligence," and repair, Bowen's report states. It cannot defend its airspace or
its coastline, and is weak in counterterrorism.
Bowen's report indirectly assigns blame for mismanaging the endeavor to the Bush White House, which had the authority to force U.S. government agencies to
coordinate their work but failed to exercise it. Instead, he points out, no single office was assigned to lead the effort, making stovepiping -- a myriad of
narrowly focused efforts -- "the apt descriptor," the report said.
But the largest responsibility for the screw-up lies generally at the Pentagon and particularly in the Army, according to the report. The Defense
Department "held decisive sway over $45 billion (87 percent) of the roughly $52 billion allocated to the major rebuilding funds that supported Iraq's
The agencies formally charged with dispensing foreign aid -- the State Department and the Agency for International Development -- played only a minor role in
these accounting shortfalls, because they spent less than a fifth of the reconstruction funds. "State's role in managing the reconstruction ... ebbed and
flowed in cycles driven by the personalities involved, with State frequently on the losing end of arguments," Bowen reports.
It was the Pentagon that failed to plan "for a lengthy occupation or a large relief and reconstruction program," Bowen noted, under the tutelage of a
Defense Secretary -- Donald Rumsfeld -- who famously said, "If you think we're going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly