Lost Billions in Iraq

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

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.

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