The third US audit in an effort to track down $6.6 billion in “missing” Iraqi reconstruction funds has once again failed to account for its whereabouts. It is the first one, however, to concede that much of the money was likely stolen.
The audit, by Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction, blamed the Pentagon for not keeping track of the funds, reporting that the US simply loaded transport planes with $100 bills and did little to keep track of it when the planes landed. Stuart Bowen, the auditor, said it may be the “largest theft of funds in national history.”
The Pentagon fired back, insisting that all of the money remained under Iraqi government control the entire time. The money was not, officials remind, US taxpayer dollars, but rather money from the UN Oil for Food program that the US was charged with delivering in the wake of the 2003 invasion.
Iraqi officials have suggested that since the US lost the money, whoever stole it, they will seek restitution from the US. Having lost the money through sheer carelessness, Rep. Henry Waxman (D – CA) warns, the Iraqi government may have a strong case.