Comments from the land of the golden parachutes

I feel like we’ve been graced with a minor celebrity, maybe. Somebody claiming to be “David Soroko” commented on this piece about the “non-profit” charity IRD and all the great work it did to enrich its owners while also (allegedly) funding the Iraqi insurgency with USAID money. Mr. Soroko, you may remember, was the USAID official who was supposed to be overseeing one of IRD’s contracts, the one where they were allegedly paying for no-show jobs for the insurgents, and then just coincidentally parachuted out of Baghdad as the program was being investigated, landing in a wonderful new gig with a 20% raise at, and the coincidences really start piling up here, IRD. Here’s Mr. Soroko’s comment in full:

David Soroko says:

Then again people who actually served in Iraq, and worked to suppress insurgency and violence, and yes risked their lives, might ask why others without similar experience, believe all that they read in a newspaper article whose author paraphrases, uses innuendo and stretches the truth to pad his own nest and that of his owners.

I was happy to reply:

DWD says:

Wow, David, is this really you? I’m honored that you stopped by this infinitesimally small corner of the internet to defend your good name. First of all, let me say that I was very happy to read that you took the high paying job with the charity you were supposed to be overseeing rather than, you know, starving to death.

Now, when you mention “people who actually served in Iraq, and worked to suppress insurgency and violence, and yes risked their lives,” are you talking about folks like Louis Fazekas?

Army Col. Louis Fazekas, who supervised a combat team in Baghdad, said in a recent interview that he and other U.S. officials confronted David Soroko, a USAID official supervising the program in Baghdad.

“We said our money was going into the hands of the people who were killing our soldiers,” Fazekas recalled. “He flat out denied it and said, ‘We’re not going to change anything.’”

Or did the Washington Post reporters make him up? Or, wait, I know, he never said that stuff, or went to see you about anything, right? They’re just making it up, I bet, to pad nests with all the money that they undoubtedly made by writing an article about a charity that none of their readers had ever heard of before.

What about John E. Bennett? Seems like he was there.

“IRD is a nonprofit in name only,” said John E. Bennett, a former career State Department official and ambassador who led a reconstruction team in Baghdad that worked alongside IRD. “They built an organization designed to get USAID money.”

“It was a complete farce,” said Bennett, the former ambassador who ran one of the reconstruction teams in Baghdad for the Bush administration. “They were pouring money, literally pouring money into the program, and it was spilling all over the place. The money was going to the militias. The money was getting swept into their pockets, and it was going to buy weapons and ammunition to use against us.”

Did the Post invent him, too? Gosh, they’re just inventing phantom interviewees left and right! No, wait, he never said any of that either, right?

Can you prove that those guys are lying, David? Or that the Post writers made up those quotes? Because, and I don’t mean to denigrate my own blog, but you probably want to take that kind of information to the Washington Post, not to me. They’ve got a way bigger microphone. Hopefully in your next go round you’ll defend yourself a little better than you did on your first attempt:

In a recent interview, Soroko disputed the reports of fraud and money going to the insurgency.

“There was no real evidence of money going to the insurgents. The military told me that,” Soroko said. “Is it possible there were ghost employees? Yeah. How accurate were the numbers in Iraq? I have no idea. Did what we were doing actually suppress violence? I think so.”

Yeesh. “I don’t know if the numbers were accurate, but I think it was good. It’s possible it wasn’t. I mean, the military said it wasn’t so good, but what do they know?” Not the most polished effort, I have to say.

I actually left out Jay R. Rollins, somebody else who, unless the Post made him up as well, was also risking his life serving in Iraq at the time:

Jay R. Rollins, USAID’s inspector general in Baghdad, came across the same allegations and said he suspected that people were being paid for work they never did.

“We saw a lot of anomalies, discrepancies and evidence that USAID funds were actually going to the insurgents,” Rollins said. “We recommended that they shut down the entire operation.”

But I’m sure there’s a good explanation for his comments as well. I honestly don’t know why “David,” assuming it actually is him, would come here, to a place that’s lucky to get 50 pairs of eyes on it in a day, to complain about a days old piece, rather than to the Post, which reported the story and has a slightly higher readership, but I’m glad he stopped by.

Author: DWD

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