Congressman Steve King of Kiron has just returned from a weekend fact-finding mission to Iraq. King says he wasn’t surprised by the military operations he saw, but he was surprised by the condition of Baghdad compared to Mosul. King says the lights are on in Mosul and from the air at night it looks just like Des Moines. But King says in Baghdad, while the street lights are on, electricity is still scarce. King saw just one street sign in Baghdad, for a street called Jihad. King says there’s a long ways to go to improve the infrastructure in Iraq. King says the congressional delegation visited the best hospital in Iraq, but were told the hospital’s infant morality rate was so high that one out of every four children will die before they’re four years old. King says the dilapidated state of Iraq is not due to military operations but by two decades of neglect as Saddam Hussein diverted the country’s wealth. King says as he and the other Americans rode through the streets of Baghdad, Iraqi men waved, cheered and saluted with a “thumbs up.” King says “even in the worst sections of Baghdad, we saw happy people that were glad that we were there.” King, a Republican who voted last week to extend a more than 20 billion dollar U.S. grant to Iraq for reconstruction, says the country’s infrastructure needs work. King says, for example, the drinking water pipes in Baghdad are inside the sewer lines, so when there’s a leak in the water line, sewage flows in. King says a lot of work has been done, but an investment must be made to bring the country into the modern world.King says American soldiers are coming under attack from “improvised weapons” stolen from vast munitions dumps. King says before he went over there, he wondered why U.S. soldiers weren’t guarding the munitions dumps to stop the looting. But while in Iraq, King flew over the dumps, some of which are 200 square miles. and has come to the conclusion there’s no way to guard them all. King says the U.S. has hired a contractor that’s going in and dismantling the weapons found in the dozens of dump sites scattered across Iraq. King says the Iraqis had the second-largest stockpile of artillery ammunition for a country its size, so he says dismantling those weapons is a huge problem.
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