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Iraq: The Case of the Missing $6.6 Billion

Posted on Jun 13, 2011
Flickr / rbbaird

Benjamin Franklin may be one of the most wanted men in Iraq right now, as the country’s officials threaten to take the Pentagon to court to recoup some $6.6 billion in cash airlifted from the U.S. in 2004 for the purpose of Iraqi reconstruction.

Up until recently, the Pentagon maintained that the missing billions—which appear to account for roughly half of the total amount of money sent to Iraq at the time—was lost in an accounting error. Now, seven years later, sheepish U.S. officials are looking at mountains of evidence of fraud, waste and neglect and finally admitting that the money may have been stolen. —ARK

The Los Angeles Times:

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.”

The mystery is a growing embarrassment to the Pentagon, and an irritant to Washington’s relations with Baghdad. Iraqi officials are threatening to go to court to reclaim the money, which came from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations’ oil-for-food program.

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By James P. Levy, June 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment
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Since we still have no idea how much bribe money, or tribute, or whatever you want to call it, was paid to Iraqis to stop shooting at us and instead concentrate on killing each other (and the few dopey al Qaida volunteers who showed up to help fight the infidels) this could easily be part of a slush fund that was created out of “lost” cash. It astonishes me that so many people of the supposed conservative, patriotic persuasion had no problem with us giving out money, guns, and government jobs to people who had been killing “our boys” in order to buy them off. That we all know it, and that it has become an unspeakable truth, perhaps reflects the shame we feel. But hey, since it largely worked (along with the successful ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis by the Shiites while we sat back and egged them on) who can argue with “success” here in the good old US of A?

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By Ben Donahower, June 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We had good intentions with a strong reconstruction
effort but unfortunately, we haven’t been able to
execute well on this front.  Personally, I think that
if would have done this right that it would have gone a
long way to help stabilize the country more quickly,
increase the willingness of Iraqis to work with the US,
and decrease US casualties.

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By Rodney, June 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most of that money probably made it to Iraq. Check the
Swiss bank accounts of the Americans in charge!

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By frecklefever, June 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment


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By talkmaster, June 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment
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this money goes directly to israeli settlement construction.

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By johnnyfarout, June 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

What was it Rumsfeld said: “Among the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns, that shit happens when there’s freedom.”? Or, was that, “one goes to war with the army one has, not with the one you wish you had.” Or, was it, “one runs off with the bags of money that are there, not with the freedoms you get hated for.” It’s hard to keep it all straight, but on September 10, 2001 he said that the 2.2 Trillion missing from the Pentagon was not going to be found by the Pentagon because they couldn’t keep track of money and might need outside help… I guess what with all the freedoms running around, it was just too hard. Then, all the tension got released on September 11, 2001, and that made everybody happy, as it was all blown away in a big gust of free falling skyscrapers.

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