Tonight Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly followed up his last night’s piece on investigating where the money went in Haiti with an interview with Senator Coburn. O’Reilly confronted Coburn for holding up the Haiti aid money. Apparently the White House identified Coburn as the roadblock. However, Coburn says already $1.1 billion has been sent down to Haiti
(see attachment for an accounting of that money: http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/humanitarian_assistance/disaster_assistance/countries/haiti/template/fs_sr/fy2010/haiti_eq_fs70_09-03-2010.pdf )
with little to show for it. And, the Congress already authorized another $1.5 billion several months ago. The only hold up with that money is the U.S. State Department which was required to provide a plan to ensure that the money is not wasted or lost in corruption and an outline of the benchmarks and mechanisms to implement that plan. Secretary Clinton only provided that this week (again, after several months). Senator Coburn noted that the deployment of that $1.5 billion is up to the State Department now and that there is no time frame for when it should be sent.
Separately, there is another bill pending in the Congress for $500 million for infrastructure construction projects in Haiti (not humanitarian aid) that he is holding because it is unfunded and the cost has not been offset. He will not release his hold on this bill until there is a plan put forward for how to fund this. His point is that the US is in such dire economic circumstances and Congress promised the American people that there would be no new spending.
O’Reilly asked Coburn, a doctor, to travel down to Haiti with him to get to the bottom of this situation. He noted that 1.5 million people are still sleeping in the streets and the situation is “disgraceful”. Many of you may not agree with O’Reilly’s politics; however, he hosts the number one news program in the US. His rating beat every other news program in the time slot – combined. He has a big voice and a lot of influence so his focus on this issue can only benefit the Haitian people.
O’Reilly should look into the cold, and calculated plan to block everything in Customs.
There have been complaints about the slowness in rubble removal. Well, it takes trucks to remove the debris and Preval effectively stops the importation of heavy equipment for disaster operations. For example, supposing you want to participate in the removal of debris and set out to do so. You form a Haitian corporation and purchase 10 trucks in the States for the operation. Documentation is completed and the vehicles are shipped, by boat, to Haiti.
Then you are faced with a disastrous nightmare trying to get them off the docks and out of Customs. Each day they create some new regulation that slows the process. And then., the operator is charged with a daily fee after the trucks have been in Haiti for 15 days.
The docks have thousands and thousands of relief containers blocked by Customs. There are dozens and dozens of large MACK trucks sitting there, ready to work but stopped by Preval and his team.
They hope that people will become frustrated and walk away, deserting their vehicles for Jude Celestin, Preval and the rest of the criminals.