$9 billion missing in action

Democrats: Eager to bring accountability back into government? Here’s a suggestion. Find out what happened to the nearly $9 billion dollars of Iraqi oil funds and reconstruction cash missing in action since the beginning of the war. In the aftermath of the invasion, planes filled with shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills were flown into Baghdad. Wondering ...

606261_419-iraq-money5.jpg
606261_419-iraq-money5.jpg

Democrats: Eager to bring accountability back into government? Here's a suggestion. Find out what happened to the nearly $9 billion dollars of Iraqi oil funds and reconstruction cash missing in action since the beginning of the war.

In the aftermath of the invasion, planes filled with shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills were flown into Baghdad. Wondering how much money fits into a plane? "It was $2 billion a flight, and I know of at least six flights," Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told the BBC. Waiting at the airport for the planeloads of greenbacks was David Oliver. Head of the CPA's finance department, he handed much of this money over to the Iraqi provisional government. After that the paper trail grows colder. According to Mr. Bowen, some it found its way into the pockets of Iraqi politicians.

When asked by a reporter where the money went, Oliver replied he didn't know and didn't care. "Billions of dollars of their money disappeared, yes I understand, I'm saying what difference does it make?" In his defense, Oliver insists there were unexpected and pressing emergencies in the war's aftermath, with little time for accounting procedures. But early warnings had been issued by groups like Iraq Revenue Watch about the potential for mismangement and corruption. These were ignored. 

Democrats: Eager to bring accountability back into government? Here’s a suggestion. Find out what happened to the nearly $9 billion dollars of Iraqi oil funds and reconstruction cash missing in action since the beginning of the war.

In the aftermath of the invasion, planes filled with shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills were flown into Baghdad. Wondering how much money fits into a plane? “It was $2 billion a flight, and I know of at least six flights,” Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told the BBC. Waiting at the airport for the planeloads of greenbacks was David Oliver. Head of the CPA’s finance department, he handed much of this money over to the Iraqi provisional government. After that the paper trail grows colder. According to Mr. Bowen, some it found its way into the pockets of Iraqi politicians.

When asked by a reporter where the money went, Oliver replied he didn’t know and didn’t care. “Billions of dollars of their money disappeared, yes I understand, I’m saying what difference does it make?” In his defense, Oliver insists there were unexpected and pressing emergencies in the war’s aftermath, with little time for accounting procedures. But early warnings had been issued by groups like Iraq Revenue Watch about the potential for mismangement and corruption. These were ignored. 

For more on the incompetence and mismanagement of postwar Iraq, check out Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s must-read “Who Killed Iraq?” in the last issue of FP.   

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