I read once before about this and could hardly believe it but apparently it is true – c. $100m found by the US military in Saddam’s palaces has been looted and redistributed to a ‘Commanders’ Emergency Response Program’ which amounted to a slush fund for US military commanders to use effectively “at their discretion”:http://usembassy.state.gov/mumbai/wwwhwashnews999.html. Fred Kaplan at “Slate”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2091857/ suggests this was an excellent idea.
Call me old-fashioned but doesn’t that money belong to the Iraqi people and shouldn’t the money have gone into some kind of fund that they could draw upon once an independent Iraqi government is once again established? Kaplan suggests now that that source of funds has been spent the US government should put some of its own money into a similar fund.
“Might such discretion create the potential for corruption? Yes. But no reports of abuse surfaced during the first round. And if some miscreant officer does skim a few bucks off the top, the loss would be trivial compared with the price-gouging that Pentagon-approved contractors have routinely practiced in the course of rebuilding Iraq.”
If you want to do an end run around administrative bureaucracy in approving rebuilding projects why not give the money directly to NGOs and protect them as they do their work? But then the Iraqi people would not be forced into a cosy relationship with the occupying forces…