A new audit of American financial practices in Iraq has uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe.
Hmm. Somehow the word ‘irregularities’ seems rather to downplay what’s been going on here, still lets see just what some of the irregularities are in detail…
Agents from the inspector general’s office found that the living and working quarters of American occupation officials were awash in shrink-wrapped stacks of $100 bills, colloquially known as bricks.
One official kept $2 million in a bathroom safe, another more than half a million dollars in an unlocked footlocker. One contractor received more than $100,000 to completely refurbish an Olympic pool but only polished the pumps; even so, local American officials certified the work as completed. More than 2,000 contracts ranging in value from a few thousand dollars to more than half a million, some $88 million in all, were examined by agents from the inspector general’s office. The report says that in some cases the agents found clear indications of potential fraud and that investigations into those cases are continuing.
Potential fraud? $100,000 to polish pumps in a swimming pool is only potential fraud?
More to the point, shouldn’t someone be asking question like why swimming pools were being refurbished at a time when sizeable areas of the country were lacking reliable supplies of water and electricity?
But much of the material in the latest audit is new, and the portrait it paints of abandoned rebuilding projects, nonexistent paperwork and cash routinely taken from the main vault in Hilla without even a log to keep track of the transactions is likely to raise major new questions about how the provisional authority did its business and accounted for huge expenditures of Iraqi and American money…
…”It does not surprise me at all,” said a Defense Department official who worked in Hilla and other parts of the country, who spoke anonymously because he said he feared retribution from the Bush administration. He predicted that similar problems would turn up in the major southern city of Basra and elsewhere in the dangerous desert wasteland of Anbar province. “It’s a disaster,” the official said of problems with contracting in Anbar.
No records were kept as money came and went from the main vault at the Hilla compound, and inside it was often stashed haphazardly in a filing cabinet.
That casual arrangement led to a dispute when one official for the provisional authority, while clearing his accounts on his way out of Iraq, grabbed $100,000 from another official’s stack of cash, according to the report. Whether unintentional or not, the move might never have been discovered except that the second official “had to make a disbursement that day and realized that he was short cash.”
Then there is:
In one case, an American soldier assigned as an assistant to the Iraqi Olympic boxing team was given huge amounts of cash for a trip to the Philippines, where the soldier gambled away somewhere between $20,000 and $60,000 of the money. Exactly how much has not been determined, the report says, because no one kept track of how much money he received in the first place.
American Excess? That’ll do nicely sir!
And finally we have…
Sometimes the consequences of such loose controls were deadly. A contract for $662,800 in civil, electrical, and mechanical work to rehabilitate the Hilla General Hospital was paid in full by an American official in June 2004 even though the work was not finished, the report says. But instead of replacing a central elevator bank, as called for in the scope of work, the contractor tinkered with an unsuccessful rehabilitation.
The report continues, narrating the observation of the inspector general’s agents who visited the hospital on Sept. 18, 2004: “The hospital administrator immediately escorted us to the site of the elevators. The administrator said that just a couple days prior to our arrival the elevator crashed and killed three people.”
Which I suppose only goes to prove that cowbouy builders are the same whereever you go…
I’ve saved the most interesting comment for last, which is simply:
The money, most from Iraqi oil proceeds and cash seized from Saddam Hussein’s government, also easily found its way out of the compound and the country.
So let’s get this straight.
You go to their country. Invade. Shoot the place to shit. Promise to rebuild the place – with their own money…
…and then you rob them blind.
Free market war – you gotta love it.