Wednesday, August 17, 2005
The Next Time Somebody Mentions "The Oil-for-Food Scandal"...
...we should make it a point to bring up this:
WASHINGTON — It weighed 28 tons and took up as much room as 74 washing machines. It was $2.4 billion in $100 bills, and Baghdad needed it ASAP. The initial request from U.S. officials in charge of Iraq required the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to decide whether it could open its vault on a Sunday, a day banks aren't usually open. "Just when you think you've seen it all," read one e-mail from an exasperated Fed official. "Pocket change," said another e-mail. Then, when the shipment date changed, officials had to scramble to line up U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo planes to hold the money. They did, and the $2,401,600,000 was delivered to Baghdad on June 22, 2004. It was the largest one-time cash transfer in the history of the New York Fed. Disclosure of the frantic transfer in the final days of U.S. control over Iraq came during a daylong hearing Tuesday that indicated growing worry from Congress over U.S. oversight of spending in Iraq. Both Republicans and Democrats appeared taken aback by the volume of cash sent to Iraq: nearly $12 billion over the course of the U.S. occupation from March 2003 to June 2004, said a report by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), who had reviewed e-mails and documents subpoenaed from the bank. The cash — a total of 363 tons, generated mostly from oil revenues — was Iraqi funds that had been held in trust by the Federal Reserve under the terms of a United Nations resolution. The June 2004 money transfer was needed to run the country as the interim Iraqi government took over from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, officials said. Rep. Christopher Shays ( R-Conn.), chairman of the House national security subcommittee, criticized the Pentagon's handling of the money known as the Development Fund for Iraq. "It's very clear that … we didn't have systems in place to account" for the funds, he said. "It doesn't mean they weren't spent well, but, given my sense of human temptation, I suspect some of it was, frankly, taken," Shays said. "I can't believe that all this cash just floating around all went perfectly to the right place."And of course, it didn't. But as immense as that shipment was, it pales in comparison to the $9 BILLION that remains "unaccounted for" from Bremer's one-year reign. Meanwhile, Hussein probably got $1.7 billion -- barely one-fifth the $9 billion that Bremer's crew just couldn't account for -- during the eight years from the time that the Oil-for-Food Program was in existence, which turns out to be a lot less than what he got from oil smuggling that the US didn't lift a finger to stop. And it turns out that Saddam's biggest accomplice in ripping off the UN is David Bay Chalmers, the Houston, Texas oil man who runs BayOil.
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