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Draft report: Iraq government 'not capable' of fighting corruption

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. Embassy in Baghdad document reports on how Iraq fights corruption
  • Draft report widely circulated among reporters but now classified
  • It says al-Maliki's office hostile to idea of independent anti-corruption force
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. Embassy in Baghdad document studying how Iraq fights corruption says the Iraqi government "is not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anti-corruption laws" and the prime minister's office is openly hostile to the idea of an independent anti-corruption agency.

The 82-page study, in an early working draft form, is a review of the cases handled by Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, which has the duty of investigating corruption in government agencies. It also looks into the roles of inspectors general in government ministries and other entities. Research for the report was based on events that occurred through the end of 2006.

The draft, obtained by CNN on Wednesday, is a "far-from-final version" and the data in the draft is still being reviewed, an embassy source said. Another embassy source said it is a "leaked, draft, staff-level report that was to form part of the internal deliberation process. It was far from a final version and the data and information it contains was still under review."

Iraqis, including government officials, who were asked about the draft have declined to talk about it.

The document began to surface in late August, and officials say they are upset it was leaked because it may draw attention to and disrupt anti-corruption efforts that are starting to work.

The document, which originally had been labeled as sensitive but unclassified, apparently was widely distributed to reporters and officials. State Department sources Thursday said the report has now been classified.

One senior State Department official -- who like others acknowledges the severe corruption problems in Iraq -- called the study an "internal working document" prepared by the embassy to help guide anti-corruption efforts. Other sources describe it as a working document written at low levels in the embassy.

The review compliments the diligence of the average commission investigator, part of a team of 120. But it says the unit lacks the necessary numbers and the Iraqi government undermines the agency by withholding support and resources.

The Commission on Public Integrity is characterized as a "passive rather than a true investigatory" unit paralyzed by the raging warfare and rampant crime within the country.

"The combined security situation and the violent character of the criminal elements within the ministries make investigation of corruption too hazardous for all but a tactically robust police force" supported by the Iraqi government. Twelve public integrity employees have been killed in the line of duty, the draft report states.

The review slams the prime minister's office, saying it "has demonstrated an open hostility to the concept of an independent agency to investigate or prosecute corruption cases."

It cites "a number of identified cases where government and political pressure has been applied to change the outcome of investigations and prosecutions in favor of members of the Shia Alliance."

The prime minister is Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, and the United Iraq Alliance is the ruling Shiite bloc.

The draft says there is a "pattern of pressure" to hire along political lines, and there "has been a clear sectarian shift in those who have been appointed" inspector general since the alliance came into power last year.

"American advisers have noted numerous efforts to interfere with investigations ... by senior members of the Shia Alliance Party, government officials and American officials," the draft said.

The commission lacks a "formal means" to institute "internal security or discipline, and such checks and balances have "placed in jeopardy the agency's reputation."

"The Iraqi government is conducting a series of classes for the training of hundreds of inspectors general, but without an increase in numbers nor a means to conduct investigations absent intimidation, their value may only be administrative in character," the draft report says.

According to interviews and case reviews cited in the draft report, anti-corruption efforts have been ineffective in Iraq's many government ministries.

The Interior Ministry, much criticized for being a magnet for illegal militias, is "seen by Iraqis as untouchable by the anti-corruption enforcement infrastructure of Iraq."

Corruption probes in the Defense Ministry "are judged to be ineffectual."

In the Health Ministry, corruption affects its ability "to deliver services" and "the lack of investigative capacity and the presence of militia make it beyond the reach of anti-corruption efforts."

The draft says the "high number of dismissals in cases involving alleged political motivations indicates manipulation of investigations within the Ministry of Oil."

The draft identifies "lack of access to the ministries" as "the single biggest hurdle to prosecution of anti-corruption cases."

Commission on Public Integrity investigators aren't able to travel to and from the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area where the United States and many Iraqi government ministries are based. So, it has had to rely on inspectors general inside ministries to conduct corruption probes.

"Because the IGs are subject to the same threat, anti-corruption investigations are subject to tampering or political manipulation," the draft report says. "Several ministries are so controlled by criminal gangs or militias as to be impossible to operate within absent a tactical force protecting the investigator. Though severely undermanned, CPI could vastly improve its anti-corruption cases if it were not so dependant on unreliable ministry support."

At the same time, the draft says, investigators "are not immune to attack in the Green Zone."

The review cites one vignette, from December, that says shots were fired at the Commission on Public Integrity headquarters in the Green Zone, and police later determined the shots had to have come from the top of the Iraqi government office building 800 yards away.

The draft also calls Iraq's court system "weak, intimidated, subject to political pressure, and clogged with minor cases."

Corruption in the Iraqi government is being investigated by the U.S. House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California. There was to be a hearing on corruption in Iraq on Thursday, but that was postponed to next week.

Waxman has been seeking State Department reports on the Commission on Public Integrity, but said in a recent letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the State Department had not complied with requests to turn over reports about the commission.

After the working document became classified, Waxman was given that version, which he cannot talk about in public. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Elise Labott and Cal Perry contributed to this report.

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