(Editor's Note: Another bungle by our clueless administration)
Tens of millions of dollars wasted through negligence, report finds
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Iraqi money gambled away in the Philippines. Thousands spent on a swimming pool that was never used. An elevator repaired so poorly that it crashed, killing people.
A U.S. government audit found American-led occupation authorities squandered tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to be used to rebuild Iraq through undocumented spending and outright fraud.
In some cases, auditors recommend criminal charges be filed against the perpetrators. In others, it asks the U.S. ambassador to Iraq to recoup the money.
Dryly written audit reports describe the Coalition Provisional Authority’s offices in the south-central city of Hillah being awash in bricks of $100 bills taken from a central vault without documentation.
It describes one agent who kept almost $700,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker and mentions a U.S. soldier who gambled away as much as $60,000 in reconstruction funds in the Philippines.
“Tens of millions of dollars in cash had gone in and out of the South-Central Region vault without any tracking of who deposited or withdrew the money, and why it was taken out,” says a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which is in the midst of a series of audits for the Pentagon and State Department.
Much of the first audit reports deal with contracting in south-central Iraq, one of the country’s least-hostile regions. Audits have yet to be released for the occupation authority’s spending in the rest of Iraq.
The audits offer a window into the chaotic U.S.-led occupation of Iraq of 2003-04, when inexperienced American officials — including workers from President Bush’s election campaign — organized a cash-intensive “hearts and minds” mission to rebuild Iraq’s devastated economy.
But the corruption and incompetence documented in the reports reveal that much of the effort, however well-intentioned, was wasted.
The failure of the rebuilding effort has been borne out most vividly by the rise of a virulent anti-American insurgency that has claimed most of the 2,237 U.S. military lives lost since the war began.
In some cases, auditors could find no trace of cash, much of which came from Iraqi oil revenues overseen by the occupation authority.