$6.6 Billion Stolen In Iraq

Remember the billions the Bush administration sent to Iraq just after they started the war there? 12 billion dollars or so was flown into Iraq in cash to facilitate the recovery, or so they said.

Between April 2003 and June 2004, $12 billion in U.S. currency—much of it belonging to the Iraqi people—was shipped from the Federal Reserve to Baghdad, where it was dispensed by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Some of the cash went to pay for projects and keep ministries afloat, but, incredibly, at least $9 billion has gone missing, unaccounted for, in a frenzy of mismanagement and greed. Following a trail that leads from a safe in one of Saddam's palaces to a house near San Diego, to a P.O. box in the Bahamas, the authors discover just how little anyone cared about how the money was handled.

The LA Times has a new report on that cash, and incredibly, it seems that $6.6 billion has just been...stolen.

This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash — enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.

For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be "the largest theft of funds in national history."

In yet another example of stunning incompetence on the part of the Bush administration:

The U.S. cash airlift was a desperation measure, organized when the Bush administration was eager to restore government services and a shattered economy to give Iraqis confidence that the new order would be a drastic improvement on Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The White House decided to use the money in the so-called Development Fund for Iraq, which was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to hold money amassed during the years when Hussein's regime was under crippling economic and trade sanctions.

And because it is technically Iraq's money, they are threatening lawsuits to recover it, despite indications that Iraqis probably made off with the bulk of it.

The whole cash drop was just an incredibly stupid idea. What did the Bushies expect? That they could drop $100 bills on Iraq and they'd just stay there in the street until authorized personnel picked them up and used them in altruistic ways?

Or were they actually hoping that money would be stolen and unrecoverable? I'd love to know how much of it went into Dick Cheney's pocket. Or Erik Prince's.

How do you "lose" nearly $7 billion dollars?


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