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Prof testifies at Iraqi fraud hearing

Monday, September 29, 2008

Abbas Mehdi, sociology professor, testifies on Capitol Hill

Abbas Mehdi, sociology professor, testifies Sept. 22, 2008, on Capitol Hill. Mehdi told members of the Democratic Policy Committee that corruption is endemic in Iraqi society.

Abbas Mehdi testified before Congress last week about corruption and waste in the Iraqi government.

The sociology professor and former chair of the Iraqi National Investment Commission appeared Sept. 22 before a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing in which senators learned that as much as $13 billion meant for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes, according to news reports.

"The costs of corruption fall most heavily on ordinary Iraqi citizens," Mehdi testified. "They are the ones who suffer from the complete absence of services: no water, no electricity, no oil, and too little security."

Baghdad residents have electricity one hour in every seven-hour period, despite $22 billion invested in electrical infrastructure, including an American contribution of $4 billion or more, Mehdi said.

The view that American officials are involved in corruption is widely shared throughout Iraq, he said.

The committee, which has been a key tool of the Democratic caucus since 1947, is chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

Mehdi holds a doctorate in sociology from Ohio State University. His areas of expertise are social development, organization and management, and global change. He began teaching at St. Cloud State in 1988.

Born in Iraq, Mehdi returned to his native land twice in recent years to serve in government. He also has served as a consultant to international organizations and governments.

- Jeff Wood

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