US cuts back plans for Iraqi reconstruction

Guerrilla attacks in Iraq have forced the cancellation of more than 60 percent of water and sanitation projects, in part because American intelligence failed to predict the brutal insurgency, a US government audit said. American goals to fix Iraq's infrastructure will never be reached, mainly because insurgents have chased away contractors and forced the diversion of repair funds into security, according to an audit of the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Program released last week. It is the latest in a series of auditing reports being issued by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The rise of Iraq's insurgency was never envisioned by US officials, who originally budgeted about 9 percent of reconstruction aid for project security, the audit said. As kidnappings, killings and sabotage drove local laborers and foreign technicians from the reconstruction program, US administrators were forced to step up protection for workers. New measures like armored vehicles, private security teams and blast walls absorbed as much as 22 percent of project costs, according to the audit by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.