Over $18 billion in US funds the Bush administration sent to Iraq for reconstruction is unaccounted for. The Pentagon claims it could find it if given enough time. Interestingly, they have been saying this for six years.

Apparently $18 billion is such a trivial amount for the Pentagon that it has not bothered to look.

Please consider Missing Iraq cash ‘as high as $18bn’.

Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has told Al Jazeera that the amount of Iraqi money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7bn – three times more than the reported $6.6bn.

Just before departing for a visit to the US, al-Nujaifi said that he has received a report this week based on information from US and Iraqi auditors that the amount of money withdrawn from a fund from Iraqi oil proceeds, but unaccounted for, is much more than the $6.6bn reported missing last week.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Iraqi officials argue that the US government was supposed to safeguard the stash under a 2004 legal agreement it signed with Iraq, hence making Washington responsible for the cash that has disappeared.

Pentagon officials have contended for the last six years that they could account for the money if given enough time to track down the records.

The US has audited the money three times, but has still not been able to say exactly where it went.

Al Jazeera’s Iraq correspondent, Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said: “It’s an absolutely astonishing figure – this goes back to 2003 and 2004.

“Safeguarding the money was up to the Americans … after the invasion, provisional authority here was run by the American military.

“Piles and piles of shrink-wrapped US dollars came here, but the cash coming in is not the important part – it is what happened to it after [it got here].

“There are no documents to indicate who got it, where it was spent and what was ever built from it.”

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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