Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Friday, May 23, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 25]

Writing about “The Money,” I often use phrases like “floating billions on the desert winds” and “pounding American dollars into a bloody, sandy abyss.” These flights of rhetoric are a way to personally express outrage and relieve frustration. But as I have tried to show in these "The Money" posts my angry words are sourced in the deeds and actions of our government. The evidence is grounded in years of Bush incompetence, Congressional lockstep faux patriotism, a failure of the press to do its job, and public indifference.

And now, with a shift of party control in Congress, with a “change” election looming, elected officials, Democratic and Republican, are scrambling or sulking toward a degree of accountability. Even part of the press is ready to help the public in understanding the depths of the waste that accompanied the ignorance and arrogance which spawned the disaster that is America in Iraq.

Hunkering down in the White House bunker of denial, only Bush and McBush refuse to face the mountain of evidence that has been growing, looming for years. They still talk about “Victory.” They still try to use flag lapel pins and hollow “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers to cover the crimes, large and small, bloody and venial, that they, and so many others have committed.
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New York Times May 23, 2008
Iraq Spending Ignored Rules, Pentagon Says
By JAMES GLANZ

A Pentagon audit of $8.2 billion in American taxpayer money spent by the United States Army on contractors in Iraq has found that almost none of the payments followed federal rules and that in some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for despite little or no record of what, if anything, was received.

The audit also found a sometimes stunning lack of accountability in the way the United States military spent some $1.8 billion in seized or frozen Iraqi assets, which in the early phases of the conflict were often doled out in stacks or pallets of cash. The audit was released Thursday in tandem with a Congressional hearing on the payments.

In one case, according to documents displayed by Pentagon auditors at the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a cash payment of $320.8 million in Iraqi money was authorized on the basis of a single signature and the words “Iraqi Salary Payment” on an invoice. In another, $11.1 million of taxpayer money was paid to IAP, an American contractor, on the basis of a voucher with no indication of what was delivered. . . .

Examples of the paperwork for some of those payments, displayed at the hearing, depict a system that became accustomed to making huge payments on the fly, with little oversight or attention to detail. In one instance, a United States Treasury check for $5,674,075.00 was written to pay a company called Al Kasid Specialized Vehicles Trading Company in Baghdad for items that a voucher does not even describe.

In another case, $6,268,320.07 went to the contractor Combat Support Associates with even less explanation. And a scrawl on another piece of paper says only that $8 million had been paid out as “Funds for the Benefit of the Iraqi People.”

But perhaps the masterpiece of elliptic paperwork is the document identified at the top as a “Public Voucher for Purchases and Services Other Than Personal.” It indicates that $320.8 million went for “Iraqi Salary Payment,” with no explanation of what the Iraqis were paid to do.

Whatever it was, the document suggests, each of those Iraqis was handsomely compensated. Under the “quantity” column is the number 1,000, presumably indicating the number of people who were to be paid — to the tune of $320,800 apiece — if the paperwork is to be trusted.
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These excerpts are from a long and detailed article. If you have the stomach for it, go to:

Iraq Spending Ignored Rules, Pentagon Says


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