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In 2004, Stuart Bowen of Texas was asked by a friend to take on a difficult and important job, which he did.
Bowen’s friend was George W. Bush, and the job was to investigate corruption and waste in Iraq, where his buddy George had launched a misguided and very costly war, as well as an effort to reconstruct that country’s fractured economy. The watchdog soon learned that Air Force transport planes had been airlifting whole pallets of shrink-wrapped $100 bills from the US to Baghdad – totaling some $14 billion!
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The bales of cash were delivered to the care of L. Paul Bremer III, a laissez-faire ideologue who’d been installed by the Bush-Cheney regime to rebuild Iraq as a regulation-free corporate utopia. It was quickly obvious to Bowen that the utopia included no accounting of where the $14 billion went, though during the next decade he determined that “billions of dollars [were] taken out of Iraq illegally.” But he couldn’t get the Bushites to mount a full-fledge investigation and prosecution.
Finally, in 2010, he and his team got a break, learning that about $1.5 billion had been stolen and stashed in a bunker in rural Lebanon. However, the Obama administration wouldn’t pursue this lead. Neither did the CIA, FBI, or the Iraqi government.
Then, Bowen was stunned that the US embassy in Lebanon was resisting his own attempts to visit the bunker, actually preventing him from entering that country. When two of his investigators did get into Lebanon, our embassy denied them permission to see the bunker, claiming it was too dangerous.
Last year, Bowen’s office was formally shut down, with none of the missing cash recovered or accounted for. Remember Bowen’s 10 years of frustration as Washington starts shoving new billions of dollars into the morass of its ill-defined war against ISIS.
“Investigation Into Missing Iraq Cash Ended in Lebanon Bunker,” The New York Times,” October 12, 2014.