In 2008 Congress created the bipartisan commission on wartime spending. The commission, set to expire the end of next month, was setup to function as a Truman style commission. They have finally released their report and it shows how much waste there actually has been in Iraq and Afghanistan:
As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates.
In its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the figure could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes, leaving both countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American tax dollars.
As this story grows, it’s going to be interesting to see how quickly the right starts blaming Obama for all the waste, so I feel it necessary to engage in a friendly reminder:
The man Congress put in charge of auditing the billions of dollars dumped on Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled has told the Los Angels Times he can’t rule out the possibility that $6.6 billion in cash sent from the U.S. was stolen.
Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen told the Times the missing money may represent “the largest theft of funds in national history.”
The article goes on to remind us that the money was actual from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and was originally obtained during years of sanctions. Somehow that is supposed to make it less of a hit to the taxpayers, even though that money could have been used for the rebuilding of Iraq instead of tax payer dollars. So while CBS tries to say it “wasn’t tax money”, in fact it still was.
But let me get back to the point. This missing money, which accounts for about 10% of the total, went missing in May of 2004. The money was just airlifted in, under the orders of the Bush administration, and came up missing. Whenever a Democrat raised questions about this mountain of missing cash, they were quickly told it’s the cost of war and that their questioning of the missing money was somehow an indication that they were against the troops.
Missing money is always common in war, but what we are seeing now is that an increased use of contractors has compounded the problem. In the grand scheme of our federal budget, this missing money doesn’t seem like all that much, but it still is money that could have been put to better use. Hopefully we can use this is a lesson for the future, but given the hard heads that sit on Capital Hill and in the White House, I highly doubt that will ever happen.