Ever since George W. Bush started the still unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, $billions upon $billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have ‘escaped’ the books so to speak, never to be seen by honest participants again.
There are crooks in the books.
Huge sums of cash shelled out for waging the wars, and afterward for reconstruction, simply cannot be accounted for. That money hasn’t just disappeared in to thin air. It now resides in the pockets and bank accounts of crooks – American crooks, Iraqi crooks and Afghani crooks. They stole it. They embezzled it. They misappropriated it to their private use.
Even those sums which can be accounted for have vanished into the thoroughly corrupt black hole of the Middle East. I say vanished because America – the average American citizen -- is going to realize nothing whatsoever from the expenditures after eleven years and counting of U.S. conflict and occupation activities. No profit. No gain. Not even the return of a single dime in principal. It’s all gone.
That which technically isn’t gone has been wasted. Even the U.S. government admits with certainty that, of the mega $billions spent, or should I say dumped into the cesspools of Iraq and Afghanistan, way too much has been wasted, and the government can’t even determine how much.
The U.S. Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Funds reports of the largest reconstruction project of its kind in U.S. history that "billions of American taxpayer dollars [are] at risk of waste and misappropriation."
In what was called its final audit report, it spelled out a wide range of accounting weaknesses. "The precise amount lost to fraud and waste can never be known," said the report. Auditors found huge problems in accounting for the huge sums. One contractor, for example, got away with charging $80 for a pipe fitting that its competitor was selling for $1.41 because its invoices were not reviewed properly.
Mountains of cash were literally being shipped to Iraq on pallets at one time yet there were not enough auditors in charge to account for what happened to it. "Given the vicissitudes of the reconstruction effort — which was dogged from the start by persistent violence, shifting goals, constantly changing contracting practices and undermined by a lack of unity of effort — a complete accounting of all reconstruction expenditures is impossible to achieve," the report concluded.
This is so despite the fact that the office has spent more than $200 million tracking the reconstruction funds and producing numerous reports which documented criminal fraud kickbacks, bribery, bid-rigging embezzlement and outright theft of government property and funds.
A $35 million Pentagon project was started in December 2006 to establish the Baghdad airport as an international economic gateway, and the inspector general found that by the end of 2010 about half the money was "at risk of being wasted" unless someone else completed the work.
Of the $51 billion that Congress approved for Iraq reconstruction, about $20 billion was for rebuilding Iraqi security forces and about $20 billion was for rebuilding the country's basic infrastructure. The programs were run mainly by the Defense Department, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
So let me see if I have this right.
The U.S. government, under the direction of President George W. Bush, shelled out hundreds of $billions to prosecute the war in Iraq. In the process we destroyed the country’s basic infrastructure and decimated the Iraqi Army and security forces, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of deaths and destruction we caused to Iraqi private property.
Now the U.S. government is involved the largest reconstruction project in history, rebuilding the Iraqi Army and security forces with $billions upon $billions of dollars, and spending $billions upon $billions more to rebuild the Iraqi basic infrastructure. The largest U.S. embassy in the world is now located in Baghdad Iraq.
We destroyed the country at huge cost and now are rebuilding it a huge cost, yet the average American is going to get nothing from the scheme.
Am I missing something here?
Adding insult to injury, now we learn that that more than $200 million was wasted on a program to train Iraqi police that Baghdad says is neither needed nor wanted. Auditors said the U.S. has spent about $8 billion to train and equip Iraqi police since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The Police Development Program -- which was drawn up to be the single largest State Department program in the world -- was envisioned as a five-year, multibillion-dollar push to train security forces after the U.S. military left last December. But Iraqi political leaders, anxious to keep their distance from the Americans, were unenthusiastic.
"The U.S. government has a tendency to go ahead with programs that it has decreed are in the host country's best interests," said an embassy spokesperson. "This was such an expensive program, and there was plenty of time to get the Iraqi government to help shape it in such a way that they could eventually take it over. But we never got that buy-in."
Meanwhile, a report by the special inspector general for Afghanistan warns that handing over security to Afghan forces as the US withdraws its troops would also likely balloon the costs of US-funded aid schemes. Millions of dollars in US funds have been lost due to poor planning and workmanship in projects to help rebuild Afghanistan and billions more are at risk.
More than $89 billion US dollars have been squandered on Afghan reconstruction. Audits of various projects taking place across the country found significant construction problems and flaws. The basement of one expensive building, for example, is now being used as a chicken coop.
All of this leads to one inescapable conclusion:
There are too many crooks in the books.