Spirit of America Progress Report

Jim Hake e-mails:

Today we delivered to Marines at Camp Pendleton, CA the equipment that will be used to equip Iraqi-owned and operated television stations in Al Anbar province. On Saturday, May 1 the Marines will fly the equipment from March Air Force Base to Iraq. This initiative and the original request is described here. We try hard to provide rapid response to requests we receive. Here is the timeline of this project:

April 8: SoA receives Marines request for television equipment.
April 14: SoA posts the request on our Web site and begins fundraising.
April 29: SoA delivers $82,687 of TV studio equipment to Camp Pendleton.
April 29: Marines pack donated equipment and prepare for shipment to Iraq.
May 1: Marines fly equipment to Iraq.

This rapid turnaround makes a difference in Iraq.

***

Please check Friday’s Wall St. Journal, Dan Henninger talks about Spirit of America in his column on the editorial.

We have received $1,532,931 in donations in the last two weeks. Contributions from 7,438 donors have been made to every request and every area of Spirit of America’s operations. I can’t begin to describe the effects this generosity will have on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan – both in helping the people of those countries and in supporting the hard work of those serving there.

As encouraging as the last 14 days have been, I believe we are just at the beginning of seeing homefront support for America’s efforts in Iraq. We’re fortunate to receive emails, letters and handwritten notes from our donors that thank us for finally getting the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. Since 9/11 many have felt helpless. That no longer need be the case.

You can find more on what’s happened and what next at Spirit of America’s blog. As promised, we have an accounting there of how the money was spent on the first phase of the Marines TV request.

This is in ironic contrast to this WaPo story: Rebuilding Aid Unspent, Tapped to Pay Expenses

Seven months after Congress approved the largest foreign aid package in history to rebuild Iraq, less than 5 percent of the $18.4 billion has been spent and occupation officials have begun shifting more than $300 million earmarked for reconstruction projects to administrative and security expenses.

Recent reports from the Coalition Provisional Authority, the CPA’s inspector general and the U.S. Agency for International Development attest to the growing difficulties of the U.S.-led reconstruction effort. And they have raised concerns in Congress and among international aid experts that the Bush administration’s ambitious rebuilding campaign is adrift amid rising violence and unforeseen costs.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chairman of the House Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, cited “bureaucratic infighting” and a “loss of central command and control” at a hearing yesterday as he sharply questioned top administration officials: “I have very serious concerns about the pace of assistance in Iraq and the management of those funds.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz pointed to successes in rebuilding and blamed contracting snafus for some of the delays. But Richard L. Armitage, the deputy secretary at the State Department, which will take over from the CPA this summer, refused to make what he called “excuses.”

Now, granted, it’s rather hard to spend reconstruction money while fighting an insurgency. But less than five percent?!

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Something doesn’t make sense there.

    I dunno, maybe materials are costing less than they expected? I know I’ve heard about this and that being done, accomplished, finito over there, so something’s got to have been miscalculated. Or maybe the reconstruction is proceeding (though slowly) and the funds aren’t getting distributed as reimbursement?

    I’d sure love to have a look at the books.

  2. Jay Solo says:

    That’s absurd. And I would bet that much of the problem is bureaucratic rules about how money is spent and things are done. If not that so much, then failure of imagination or to be in touch with the real needs.

  3. melvin toast says:

    Apparently spending 18 billion dollars takes time, even for the government.

  4. jen says:

    Listen, if the US government is involved in the disbursement of te money, then you have to know that it’s notoriously slow. Planning the spending of the money is nothing compared to the red tape and hoops that follow when actually attempting to spend it.