Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pay First, Ask Questions Later

The US military's reliance on private contractors to perform most functions of the Iraq occupation, including combat, is well-documented, as is the favored status of KBR, a company with ties to Dick Cheney. The program is far from a success, with embarassing revelations ranging from the inane to the outrageous. Despite the obvious violations of logic and competency, the Bush administration had tried to slip wording into legislation that would have granted immunity to contractors committing fraud in the performance of overseas contracts.

Now, a recently-concluded Pentagon audit of roughly $8 billion spent on contractors in Iraq found that "none of the payments followed federal rules some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for despite little or no record of what, if anything, was received."

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.

It was hard to comprehend paying a 22-year-old for Cold War-era, degraded ammunition to supply the Afghans. It is much harder to comprehend that money is being given to anyone with a hastily-written IOU in their hands and asking nothing more.

The Pentagon report covered the money of the US tax payers, but the government proved equally adept and proficient at wasting the Iraqis' money, too.

The disclosure that $1.8 billion in Iraqi assets was mishandled comes on top of an earlier finding by an independent federal oversight agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, that United States occupation authorities early in the conflict could not account for the disbursement of $8.8 billion in Iraqi oil money and seized assets.

That $1.8 billion consisted of seized Iraqi assets and is currently unaccounted for. Doled out in cash, but to where nobody knows.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: