Point-Counterpoint -amb

Ben Pauli

A recent report stemming from an investigation led by the House Government Reform Committee has exposed the fact that the Bush administration has mismanaged, misdirected or wasted over $126 million of foreign aid intended on going to help those in the Gulf Coast region devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
The donations, which came from 36 countries from around the world, were intended to be sent directly to those in need. Instead, nearly half of the money was simply placed in a non-interest-bearing account for months, which has been estimated to have cost the United States over one million dollars in lost interest.
Sadly, this is not the only way in which the money was mishandled. Of the $126 million, most of which was donated shortly after the Aug. 29 hurricane, only $10.5 million has even been spent on aid to those affected. This accounts for just over 8 percent of the amount available.
Furthermore, much of this 8 percent was sent to the United Methodist Committee, who had $66 million earmarked for it to expand its program and counsel families. Unfortunately, only half of the promised additional jobs have been filled and only about 3,100 families have signed up for counseling which had the goal of reaching 101,000 families.
Material donations were also mishandled and the United States actually paid $60,000 for the storage of food and medicine that was found — after it was imported — to have violated federal health standards and therefore could not be distributed.
Such recent evidence of the bungling of foreign aid simply adds to the litany of mistakes that the Bush administration had made in attempting to help the Gulf Coast recover from Katrina. The president was negligently slow in providing aid, displayed complete disorganization in the restoration process, chose to offer no-bid contracts to large corporations to rebuild the area and has recently mishandled the distribution of aid to those in need.
President Bush’s rhetoric often emphasizes his ability to keep America safe, but his complete mismanagement of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina highlights the complete inability of him and his departments to restore safety in America following a catastrophe.