September 1, 2007
Contact:

Anna Christopher, NPR
   

NPR NEWS REPORTS:
IRAQI PRIME MINISTER MALIKI'S GOVERNMENT
WITHHOLDING ANTI-CORRUPTION RESOURCES
FROM WATCHDOG AGENCY,
ACCORDING TO DRAFT U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT
OBTAINED BY NPR NEWS

REPORT AIRING ON NPR NEWS ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, TODAY, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2007

EXCERPTS BELOW; AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT WWW.NPR.ORG AT APPROXIMATELY 7 P.M. (ET)


September 1, 2007, Washington, D.C. – The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is incapable of enforcing its own anti-corruption laws and has withheld resources from its watchdog agency, according to a draft U.S. State Department report obtained by NPR News. NPR Foreign Correspondent Corey Flintoff reports on the findings of the unreleased State Department document today, Saturday, September 1, 2007, on NPR News All Things Considered.

Flintoff reports that the "sensitive but unclassified" document, prepared by State Department investigators at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, concludes that Prime Minister Maliki's government has withheld resources from Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, the Iraqi government's anti-corruption agency. The U.S. investigators further concludes that, in some cases, the Prime Minister's office has quashed corruption investigations of politicians allied with the government.

Speaking with NPR's Debbie Elliott, host of All Things Considered, Flintoff says the report indicates that "Some ministries, such as the Interior Ministry, are seen as untouchable because of their political connections to the government. The Ministry of Oil, which is supposed to safeguard the country's major source of wealth, has allegedly manipulated investigations against it. The report says the departments of the government routinely ignore requests for information, and that investigation teams can't go into their offices because they don't have any firepower to protect them."

Flintoff also tells Elliott: "If you believe the report, and you listen to people who work at these ministries, you get the impression that corruption is completely sapping the country's resources. ...Someone who works at the Ministry of Interior -- that's the department that supervises all of Iraq's police forces...told me that it's corrupt from top to bottom -- that officials at the top of the pile are making money from contracts to buy equipment."

Flintoff says the report recommends that the State Department give greater support to the Commission on Public Integrity, including using U.S. forces to protect the Commission’s investigators, some of whom have been murdered on the job. It also recommends that investigators receive police protection for their families and be allowed to carry weapons.

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. Audio of the interview will be available at www.NPR.org at approximately 7:00 PM (ET).