This is why oversight matters. This is why having Henry Waxman as the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform matters. We know that the Bush administration has been out of control in Iraq. We just haven’t known all the details because the Hill Republicans never bothered to find out. We just know the Bush team never had a plan. And, the things we’re learning now are shocking — like the one about how we sent 363 tons of cash to Iraq without any real idea what it was for:
“Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that’s exactly what our government did,” the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.
On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially “the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history,” according to an e-mail cited by committee members.
It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 28.
Paul Bremer, who as the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority ran Iraq after initial combat operations ended, said the enormous shipments were done at the request of the Iraqi minister of finance.
Bremer really had no idea how the money was allocated. The Iraqis just needed it. How much of that money ended up in the hands of insurgents or other people killing American soldiers? Bremer didn’t think that happened, but managed to say that he “would certainly be concerned” if any money was diverted to the insurgents. Thanks, Paul, for the concern.