If public schools or Medicare providers were held to the same standards as military contractors, they'd never have to beg for cash. Need money? Sure! -- Congress would say -- what's a few missing billions of tax dollars?
Congress agreed to pump an extra $33 billion into Afghanistan this week, even as a new report revealed that almost nine billion earmarked for the nation's other occupation -- Iraq -- simply, it seems, went missing.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says $8.7 billion earmarked for Iraq reconstruction has gone. Precisely where, no one can tell him.
Not one percent or five percent, but a full 96 percent of the special fund created from the sale of Iraqi oil and gas-and frozen Saddam Hussein-era assets -- is missing according to the BBC. The Pentagon is "unable to fully account for" it.
And they're blaming a lack of accounting, oversight, and who knows what -- probably some secretaries. Powerful politicians have a habit of blaming their secretaries.
It's not the first time billions have disappeared-in 2005, the Coalition Provisional Authority faced a criminal investigation over its management of an $8.8 billion fund. This isn't the same $9 billion. It's a different one. In that case, eight US officials were convicted of bribery, fraud and money-laundering.
It's not the same $9 billion but it is the the same old story. How many strikes and the Pentagon's pals are out? There's a very different law for shop-lifters.
Officials are now, as they always do, mouthing words like "undetected loss" and "significant archival retrieval efforts." I'd say -- no more talk of deficits or cash crunches or tax -- until the lost cash is accounted for. Can't afford to support the troops you've deployed? Bring them home then.