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


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Profiteering: not just for contractors anymore

A Baghdad bank has been robbed of 282 million US dollars (not that Iraqi wampum buck, or whatever it is). By the guards.

In an astonishing heist, guards at a bank here made off with more than a quarter-billion dollars on Wednesday, according to an official at the Interior Ministry.

The robbery, of $282 million from the Dar Es Salaam bank, a private financial institution, raised more questions than it answered, and officials were tight-lipped about the crime. The local police said two guards engineered the robbery, but an official at the Interior Ministry said three guards were involved.

Both confirmed that the stolen money was in American dollars, not Iraqi dinars. It was unclear why the bank had that much money on hand in dollars, or how the robbers managed to move such a large amount without being detected.

Several officials speculated that the robbers had connections to the militias, because it would be difficult for them to move without being searched through many checkpoints in Baghdad.

I find the militia hypothesis disturbingly plausible. Why?

A) US currency shipped to Iraq was on shrink-wrapped pallets of $100 note bundles. ($8.8 billion of that money has vanished.)

B) If the $282 million was in $100 notes, it would weigh 6,211 kg, or 6.8 tons.

C) Moving that much weight would take 3 men quite some time, especially since they'd have to make multiple trips even if they had a top-of-the-line armored vehicle (unlikely).

The idea that militias and terrorist groups are using US dollars to by weapons for killing Americans isn't new (that how bin Laden got his start in the Reagan years), but it would be an unwelcome and tragic irony from the flag-wavin' nimrods who've had four years to not screw up something.