Corruption crusader stuck in Iraq

Adam Doster

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The negligence of the Bush Administration with regards to the Iraqi refugee crisis is mind-boggling. Check out this story from Paul Kiel at TPM: You'd think that an Iraqi anti-corruption crusader who testified before Congress about his travails would find no great difficulty in obtaining asylum in the United States. You'd think the U.S. would be grateful for the news that $18 billion worth of corruption had virtually "stopped" reconstruction in Iraq. But not so much.Former State Department officials told Congress earlier this week that, though Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, the former head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, was able to get access into the U.S., he is not allowed to work and is living hand to mouth. Why has he fallen through the cracks? In more encouraging news, military men and women are doing some admirable organizing around the issue, even as the administration twiddles it's thumbs. The Times reports: It took two years for Jack to get a visa. He is one of the very few to succeed among thousands who have worked as interpreters for the United States military.To many veterans that is not an acceptable rate, given the risks the interpreters took, and Colonel Zacchea and others are taking up the cause.They have created a growing network of aid groups, spending countless hours navigating a byzantine immigration system that they feel unnecessarily keeps their allies in harm’s way. There is, they say, a debt that must be repaid to the Iraqis who helped the most. To them it is an obligation both moral and pragmatic.“It’s like this disjointed underground railroad that exists,” said Paul Rieckhoff, who served with the Army in Iraq as a first lieutenant in 2003 and 2004. Mr. Rieckhoff is now executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which has more than 85,000 members and a Web site at http://www.iava.org.

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Adam Doster, a contributing editor at In These Times, is a Chicago-based freelance writer and former reporter-blogger for Progress Illinois.
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