The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, October 21, 2005

A conservative look at corruption in Iraq

It's been no secret for at least the last year and a half that a pretty big chunk of reconstruction money meant for Iraq wound up just disappearing (mostly into the pockets of American Coalition Provisional Authority appointees and contractors). My last estimate was about $14 billion. In this article, a former CIA official puts it at $20 billion. And there's been no accountability, no paper trail, and certainly no pressure from Republican officials to get to the bottom of what's probably the biggest heist in American history-- and a national disgrace of unprecendented proportions.

Money also disappeared in truckloads and by helicopter. The CPA reportedly distributed funds to contractors in bags off the back of a truck. In one notorious incident in April 2004, $1.5 billion in cash that had just been delivered by three Blackhawk helicopters was handed over to a courier in Erbil, in the Kurdish region, never to be seen again. Afterwards, no one was able to recall the courier’s name or provide a good description of him.

Paul Bremer, meanwhile, had a slush fund in cash of more than $600 million in his office for which there was no paperwork. One U.S. contractor received $2 million in a duffel bag. Three-quarters of a million dollars was stolen from an office safe, and a U.S. official was given $7 million in cash in the waning days of the CPA and told to spend it “before the Iraqis take over.” Nearly $5 billion was shipped from New York in the last month of the CPA. Sources suggest that a deliberate attempt was being made to run down the balance and spend the money while the CPA still had authority and before an Iraqi government could be formed.

A must-read. It walks an uncomfortable line between so-shocking it's funny and too shocking to be funny. Mostly the latter.

And the big question we're left with is this: why, in the face of monumental corruption and an enormous theft of American taxpayer dollars, is this getting no coverage from the mainstream press?