How much cash can a C-130 Hercules cargo plane carry? About $2.4 billion. There’s still official talk about the missing billions that were sent to Iraq in 2004, but the talk won’t go on for much longer. The books are being closed. A 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.”
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.