Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, February 09, 2007

Missing Bundles Of $100's In Iraq

It's a wonder Iraqis aren't falling all over each other to honor America. After all, we've been so generous. The Guardian tells us just how generous:
The US flew nearly $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent.

The staggering scale of the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve has been graphically laid bare by a US congressional committee.

In the year after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 nearly 281 million notes, weighing 363 tonnes, were sent from New York to Baghdad for disbursement to Iraqi ministries and US contractors. Using C-130 planes, the deliveries took place once or twice a month with the biggest of $2,401,600,000 on June 22 2004, six days before the handover.

Details of the shipments have emerged in a memorandum prepared for the meeting of the House committee on oversight and government reform which is examining Iraqi reconstruction. Its chairman, Henry Waxman, a fierce critic of the war, said the way the cash had been handled was mind-boggling. "The numbers are so large that it doesn't seem possible that they're true. Who in their right mind would send 363 tonnes of cash into a war zone?"

One contractor got a duffle bag stuffed with packets of 100's as payment -- $2 million -- as payment on a job. Payment, sometimes from the back of pick-ups, went to Iraqi ministries stuffed with false employees. Nearly $775,000 was known to have been stolen in just one documented theft.

This was not our money. It came from Iraqi oil sales, surplus funds from the UN oil-for-food program and seized Iraqi assets. And since it was not our money, who cared? Check out this testimony from Waxman's committee:

Bremer's financial adviser, retired Admiral David Oliver, is even more direct. The memorandum quotes an interview with the BBC World Service. Asked what had happened to the $8.8 billion he replied: "I have no idea. I can't tell you whether or not the money went to the right things or didn't - nor do I actually think it's important."

Q: "But the fact is billions of dollars have disappeared without trace."

Oliver: "Of their money. Billions of dollars of their money, yeah I understand. I'm saying what difference does it make?"

It makes a huge difference. It could have been used to show how to impose financial controls on public funds so theft and corruption might not take a foothold in the emerging Iraqi democracy. It could have been used to build infrastructure, provide care and build the security and judicial systems Iraq so desperately needs.

Instead, America showed to the Iraqis how inept and corrupt our country can be, and the Iraqis took the message to heart.

Wars must be fought smart on every single level or they will go badly, or be lost. I don't trust Waxman to run an honest hearing, but if he can nail some of the people responsible for this outrage, let's hang the jerks high from the closest publicly-funded lampost.

hat-tip: Jim
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