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.
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.
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.
“Those deficiencies were so significant that we were precluded from accomplishing our stated objectives,” the auditors said of U.S. officials in Hillah being unable to account for $97 million of the $120 million in Iraqi oil revenues earmarked for rebuilding projects.
An October 2005 audit found documentation for the spending of just $8 million of that money.
Read it all here for all the details.