More evidence that American oversight over Iraq's reconstruction has been sloppy: An internal audit has found that the Department of Defense can't properly account for $6.1 billion of the $9.1 billion in Iraqi oil revenue that was entrusted to it between 2004 and 2007 — and can't account at all for an additional $2.6 billion. Although no one is explicitly suggesting fraud, the audit report said, "the breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss." Where did all the money go? (Watch a report about the missing funds)
It's easy to see how this happened: This news is hardly surprising, says Juan Cole at Informed Comment. "In the chaotic days after the fall of the Baath government and the collapse of the old economy, [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq] Paul Bremer & Co. attempted to jump-start the Iraq market economy by giving out large sums in brown paper bags with no questions asked." And with the tens of billions we're still spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
"War is theft: Pentagon cannot account for $8.6 Billion of Iraq's reconstruction funds"
Sigh... here we go again: I'm not particularly surprised that no has any idea what we did with billions of dollars, says blogger Atrios at Eschaton, "but it does remind me of that multi-year period where it seemed that we invaded Iraq in order to free Iraqi schoolchildren from the tyranny of peeling paint."
"We painted all those schools right?"
The Pentagon has to get its act together: Iraqi lawmakers are threatening to take legal action to get the money back, says the AP's Tarek El-Tablawy, and it's easy to understand why. Seven years after the U.S.-led invasion, the country is still crippled by "spotty" electric service, fuel shortages, and high unemployment. The billions that vanished was "cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose."
"Audit: US cannot account for $8.7B in Iraqi funds"
And the Republicans call themselves fiscally responsible: Republicans protest the use of tax dollars to fund crucial social programs, says blogger Booman at Alternet, then admit they simply "lost track" of 8.7 billion dollars during the Bush era? "That is looting," pure and simple, typical of the "total lack of accountability" that "enables people to walk off with pallets of U.S. dollars without anyone asking questions."
"Fiscal responsibility? The DoD loses track of 8.7 billion dollars"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- The secret to Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- The best online movies to watch this weekend
Subscribe to the Week