Thursday, June 16, 2011

the american way

while the printing and reading world are obsessing about wiener's wiener,   horrifying articles about our national economic activities go virtually unread.
they wont be read or noticed here.
that wont make their reality go away.

early in the irag war, the bush administration cent a c160 aircraft to iraq FULL of $100 bills.
now the money is missing.
this sounds like aloc on a  drinking spending spree, but he only spends $50, and very occasionally.

shifting the time frame to the present, 97% of afghanistan's gross national product comes from the u.s., which we will soon be leaving, more or less.

where will that money go, and for what?

and then there's the money spend even more drunkenly in pakistan.
can this spending last?
can this economy last?
can this country last?

shoot, let's just meditate  on  a sick perv's wiener.............................

By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times
Mon Jun 13 2011 12:00 AM
Reporting from Washington-- After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush administration flooded the conquered country with so much cash to pay for reconstruction and other projects in the first year that a new unit of measurement was born.

Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash — enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.

For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be "the largest theft of funds in national history."

The mystery is a growing embarrassment to the Pentagon, and an irritant to Washington's relations with Baghdad. Iraqi officials are threatening to go to court to reclaim the money, which came from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations' oil-for-food program.

It's fair to say that Congress, which has already shelled out $61 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for similar reconstruction and development projects in Iraq, is none too thrilled either.

"Congress is not looking forward to having to spend billions of our money to make up for billions of their money that we can't account for, and can't seem to find," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who presided over hearings on waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq six years ago when he headed the House Government Reform Committee.

Theft of such a staggering sum might seem unlikely, but U.S. officials aren't ruling it out. Some U.S. contractors were accused of siphoning off tens of millions in kickbacks and graft during the post-invasion period, especially in its chaotic early days. But Iraqi officials were viewed as prime offenders.

The U.S. cash airlift was a desperation measure, organized when the Bush administration was eager to restore government services and a shattered economy to give Iraqis confidence that the new order would be a drastic improvement on Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The White House decided to use the money in the so-called Development Fund for Iraq, which was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to hold money amassed during the years when Hussein's regime was under crippling economic and trade sanctions.

The cash was carried by tractor-trailer trucks from the fortress-like Federal Reserve currency repository in East Rutherford, N.J., to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, then flown to Baghdad. U.S. officials there stored the hoard in a basement vault at one of Hussein's former palaces, and at U.S. military bases, and eventually distributed the money to Iraqi ministries and contractors.

But U.S. officials often didn't have time or staff to keep strict financial controls. Millions of dollars were stuffed in gunnysacks and hauled on pickups to Iraqi agencies or contractors, officials have testified.

House Government Reform Committee investigators charged in 2005 that U.S. officials "used virtually no financial controls to account for these enormous cash withdrawals once they arrived in Iraq, and there is evidence of substantial waste, fraud and abuse in the actual spending and disbursement of the Iraqi funds."

Pentagon officials have contended for the last six years that they could account for the money if given enough time to track down the records. But repeated attempts to find the documentation, or better yet the cash, were fruitless.

Iraqi officials argue that the U.S. government was supposed to safeguard the stash under a 2004 legal agreement it signed with Iraq. That makes Washington responsible, they say.

Abdul Basit Turki Saeed, Iraq's chief auditor and president of the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit, has warned U.S. officials that his government will go to court if necessary to recoup the missing money.

"Clearly Iraq has an interest in looking after its assets and protecting them," said Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq's ambassador to the United States.


Afghan economy

Overdependence on foreign aid a risk
FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2011
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America's attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan is at risk of failing, not for military reasons but economic ones.
Nearly $19 billion in U.S. aid over the past eight years on top of billionsof dollars in military spending have created a country heavily dependent on foreign spending that may not be sustained when U.S. troops withdraw by the end of 2014, according to a report prepared for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Now, 97 percent of the country's gross domestic product is tied to spending by the foreign military and donor community.
"Afghanistan could suffer a severe depression when foreign troops leave in 2014 unless the proper planning begins now," the report said.

The $18.8 billion spent there between 2002 and 2010 (not counting military operations) makes Afghanistan the largest recipient of U.S. aid, exceeding even Iraq.
The U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan and the State Department spend about $320 million a month on programs to win Afghan support and sustain the military victories over the Taliban under a counterinsurgency strategy developed by Gen. David Petraeus as command of U.S. and coalition forces.
The Senate report, though, found limited success of such programs and even suggested the opposite could be true. "Development best practices question the efficacy of using aid as a stabilization tool over the long run," the report said.
While quick results might be desirable from a political viewpoint, the report said that "insecurity, abject poverty, weak indigenous capacity, and widespread corruption create challenges for spending money."
The report faulted the practice of paying "inflated salaries" to Afghans working for foreign programs as creating a "culture of aid dependency." Poor oversight and overreliance on contractors are also shortcomings.
The administration has asked for $3.2 billion in Afghan aid in the next fiscal year. While aid should continue, the report recommended that U.S. projects be re-evaluated to determine if they are "necessary, achievable and sustainable."
"Transition planning should find the right balance between avoiding a sudden drop-off in aid, which could trigger a major economic recession, and a long-term phase-out from current levels of donor spending," the report said.
Economic independence and stability will be critical for the Kabul government to have Iraqi support and prevent it from sliding back into extremist control.

hey, big spender

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