Free money

Of course, such a thing doesn't exist - but America's first viceroy of Iraq, "Jerry" Bremer, acted like it does:

In a hearing before the chief House oversight committee, Democrats on Tuesday demanded answers from Paul Bremer, who headed the Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq's first post-occupation government, and oversaw the disbursement of $12bn in cash in reconstruction funds in the months after the invasion.

Mr Waxman took Mr Bremer to task for the manner in which US officials disbursed $20bn (?15.5bn, £10.2bn), including $12bn in cash, in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2004. Mr Waxman said that, in a 13-month period, the US government had shipped 360 tonnes of cash to Iraq. "Who in their right minds would send 360 tonnes of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what [this government] did."

One official from the provisional authority described an environment awash with $100 bills, said a memo released by Mr Waxman's office. "One contractor received a $2m payment in a duffel bag stuffed with shrink-wrapped bundles of currency." In some cases, cash was stored in unguarded sacks in Iraqi ministry offices.

Ok - so the Dems are all over Bremer, and by extension his boss in the White House, for incompetence and, quite probably, corruption and financial malfeasance. Good, right?

Actually, compare the tone of that article with one by Dana Milbank on the same hearings:

But Bremer proved unexpectedly agile at shifting blame: to administration planners ("The planning before the war was inadequate"), his superiors in the Bush administration ("We never had sufficient support"), and the Iraqi people ("The country was in chaos -- socially, politically and economically").

And Democrats, after 12 years in the minority, were out of practice. Instead of going after Bremer's greatest vulnerabilities -- his autocratic management style and his "de-Baathification" of Iraq -- Democrats instead chose a strange focus for the hearing: the failure to account for $8 billion of cash payments three years ago. After nearly five hours of questioning, the lawmakers failed to find a smoking gun: It wasn't U.S. taxpayer money, it was a pittance compared with U.S. spending in Iraq, there was no hard evidence of fraud, and the episode had been investigated two years ago.

Republicans could hardly believe their luck. "Nobody took him on," exulted Tom Davis (R-Va.), who surrendered the chairman's gavel to Waxman last month. "We thought they'd be all over him for de-Baathification."

Leaving aside the reprehensible justifications that appeared there - apparently, it was ok to throw away the money (a mere "pittance"), because it was Iraqi money, not good American money - the fact that the Dems went into this with nothing other than the charges and with no new evidence to pin anything on Bremer is fucking lame, because, as noted in Milbank's article, this charge is two years old.

We don't need a rehash of stuff that happened two years ago. Try doing something useful: actually hold these cretins responsible, get the soldiers out of Iraq, and prevent them from going into Iran.

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