Going From One Bad War to a Worse One

Stuart W. Bowen (right), Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, testifies while flanked by Paul Bremer, former Head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Feb. 6, 2007 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Jim Hightower

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 U.S. to Baghdad – totaling some $14 billion!

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 U.S. 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.

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