Friday, January 27, 2006

How US Lost Billions in Wild West Gamble in Iraq

An audit of US reconstruction in Iraq has uncovered the squandering of tens of millions of dollars. The report found problems with nearly 2,000 contracts worth $88.1 million.

Here is a small sample of the problems:

$108,140 paid to contractor to refurbish Olympic swimming pool in Hilla. Work never done

$662,800 paid to repair Hilla hospital. Much of work never done, including renewing central lift. Three people later died when lift crashed

$40,000 gambled away by US soldier assigned as assistant to Iraqi Olympic boxing team on trip to Philippines

$2 million locked in a the bathroom safe of a US official

$678,000 stashed away in an unlocked foot locker

$473,000 paid for internet installation in Ramadi. Work never done

A seperate congressional inquiry found $12 billion in cash was flown into Baghdad, weighing 363 tonnes, shipped in on C17 cargo planes.

The cash arrived on pallets loaded with shrink-wrapped bundles of crisp $100 bills. The parcels, which soon became known as “bricks”, were handed out “like candy”, one Democrat congressman said.

On December 12, 2003, one single flight to Iraq contained $1.5 billion in cash, the largest single Federal Reserve payout in US history, according to Rep. Henry Waxman.

A detailed account of this $12 billion in cash seems as unlikely as the tooth fairy.