BAGHDAD – The US military is demanding to know what happened to $1.9 million worth of computers purchased by American taxpayers and intended for Iraqi schoolchildren that have instead been auctioned off by Iraqi officials for less than $50,000, the military said Friday.
The US press release was a rare public admission by the military of the loss of American taxpayer money in Iraq and an equally rare criticism of Iraqi officials with whom the Americans are trying to partner as the military hands over more and more responsibility and withdraws troops from the country.
A shipment of computers intended for schoolchildren in the central Babil province was found to have been auctioned on Aug. 16 for $45,700 — before the computers could be sent to the province, the US military said.
The computers were auctioned off by a senior Iraqi official at the southern port of Umm Qasr, the statement said.
"United States Division-South Commander Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks called for an immediate investigation into the actions of the Umm Qasr official to determine why computers destined for children to facilitate their education were approved for auction," it read.