Iraqis should sue for missing US cash – ex-Bush administration official

The Pentagon has recently been forced to admit that it does not know where $6.6 billion earmarked for Iraq went. The money was supposed to be part of a massive reconstruction program after the war.

­Michael O'Brien, a former Bush administration official and author of the book “America's Failure in Iraq,” believes the missing billions sum up the chaotic approach of the Bush administration to everything that went on in Iraq, from the war to the reconstruction.

“And this is not new information. The accountability for US cash was non-existent for many years after the war,” he stated.

O'Brien told RT that the money was put into large sacks, then in cargo planes and then delivered by trucks, which made it almost impossible to keep tabs on it.

“When I was in Iraq from July 2006 to September 2007, I talked to people that had been there earlier,” he said. “Pallets with American cash were stored in the basement of the Republican Palace – Saddam’s main headquarters building, basically the seat of the Iraqi government. They say it was in vaults, but they don’t say that the doors of the vaults were wide open. Anyone could just walk in and grab a stack of hundred dollar bills and walk away, and no one would get caught.”

The former Bush administration official stated it is difficult to say where the money went.

“I have a personal friend who was a senior US finance and budget official in 2004 and 2005,” O’Brien said. “And he told me that when David Petraeus was there, there was no accountability at all for American money. And that David Petraeus continued to spend Iraqi money six months after the Coalition Provisional Authority had been shut down.”

He also said Iraqis should go to court to get the money back, as they had an agreement with the US for safe transportation. Moreover, O’Brien says, the Iraqis have a good chance of succeeding.

­Political analyst Lasos Szaszdi believes the money could have ended up in the pockets of corrupt Iraqi officials.

“A corrupt Iraqi official could just see the opportunity to get big money from the United States,” Szaszdi said. “The money, as reports say, was improperly distributed – there were no financial control once it got to Iraq.”

According to Szaszdi, US contractors could also be accused of being corrupt.

“Contractors may have obtained tens of millions of dollars,” suggested the political analyst. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the money that should have been used for development and reconstruction ended up in Swiss bank accounts.”

­Political analyst Rick Young from the Voice of Russia radio station believes that Iraq has a legal right to the money.

“I would say the Iraqis have some legal claim to that money, a legitimate claim to go to court,” stated Young. “The US has already said that it took the money from the oil fields. They took the money in the sanctions against Hussein’s Iraq, so the money is legitimately the Iraqis’. They will now probably choose the international courts to get this money back.”