Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Giant pallets of cash" = stale news to GOP

The United States loaded 363 tons of cash on palettes and airlifted it to Iraq during the reign of provisional authority L. Paul Bremer.

363 tons of cash. This is getting into territory where it is easier to measure the weight of the money than the amount involved. I mean 363 tons of cash just boggles the mind. It was the largest cash transfer in the history of the federal reserve. And the sad fact is that this is all money that was sent into a black hole. Fully $8.8 billion can not be accounted for after being given to Iraqi government agencies.

Who was accounting for all this money you might wonder. Why it was a fat slob in a van down by the river! Chris Farley fans might appreciate the attempt at humor, but the truth actually was not far removed. The only accounting firm hired to keep track of cash flown by the pallet load to Iraq was a CPA so small that it was run from a house in San Diego. That CPA firm, named North Star, no longer exists and never actually ran an audit of the Provisional Authorities internal spending controls. This firm was payed $1.4 million, for what must be the worst case of accounting ever in the sordid history of human pursuit of filthy lucre.

Mentioning spending control in the same sentence as Iraq Provisional Authority seems inappropriate somehow. We have tales of contractors bringing duffel bags to be loaded with shrink wrapped bills on pay days. Offices in the green zone awash in $100 bills. Money being distributed from the back of pickup trucks. Money payed to repair an elevator in a hospital in Hilla, which was not done, with the elevator failing resulting in 3 people killed. Insurgents stole cash on raids that were never reported. It is all surreal, and disheartening considering the state of affairs in Iraq at this time and the burgeoning budget deficits at home.

Of course we know that the GOP, that political bastion of fiscal responsibility, would have their people calling for a full accounting of this sordid affair, right? Wrong actually. Republicans accused Democrats of reviewing stale news to embarrass the administration.

This actually is embarrassing if one considers that the Republicans were in control of Congress while these events unfolded and positively refused to conduct the oversight so obviously needed at the time. In a way then the Republicans have it right, but saying this only proves the rubberstamp nature of the Congress when Republicans held the power. They refused to take care of an embarrassing situation when it happened and now it is up to Democrats to look back in time and try to sort it out. Maybe if the Republican controlled Congress had seen fit to oversee and take corrective action when this boondoggle was happening, they wouldn't be the minority right now.

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