Friday, February 29, 2008

In the News: Who is watching the Iraq Police?

came across this gem while browsing through USA TODAY site:

'Phantom' police on payrolls in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Iraq's government has spent millions of dollars on "phantom" police officers who left the force or died, but whose names remained on department payrolls while others illegally pocketed their salaries.

An investigation by the Iraqi Interior Ministry in six provinces found that 15-20% of the names on police payrolls there no longer corresponded to active-duty officers. More than 11,000 names have since been purged nationwide as part of a broad effort to cut graft.

The excess money for salaries sent by the federal government in Baghdad often ended up in the hands of other police officers, said Army Brig. Gen. David Phillips, the top U.S. adviser for police training.

"A lot of those police officers disappeared — either ran away, didn't come to work, killed, any number of things," Phillips said. "There was still pay going out there … unless someone stopped it."

In recent months, the Interior Ministry has sent officials to provincial police stations, where they refused to pay anyone who couldn't walk in to collect their salary in cash.