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House Explores Wasteful Spending in Iraq

A House committee investigating how over $12 billion disbursed for Iraq reconstruction was mismanaged questioned Paul Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, on Tuesday.

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    Today's hearing, called by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, focused on the way the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA, under Paul Bremer managed billions of dollars in Iraqi funds in 2003 and '04.

    New chairman, Democrat Henry Waxman of California, has pledged tougher oversight of the Bush administration. Today, he charged that the CPA failed in its oversight of Iraqi funds, which had been held in dollars in a U.S. federal bank.

    REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), California: In a 13-month period from May 2003 to June 2004, the Federal Reserve sent nearly $12 billion in cash, mainly in $100 bills, from the United States to Iraq. To do that, the Federal Reserve Bank in New York had to pack 281 million individual bills, including more than 107 $100 bills, on to wooden pallets to be shipped to Iraq.

    The cash weighed more than 363 tons and was loaded onto C-130 cargo planes to be flown into Baghdad. The numbers are so large that it doesn't seem possible that they're true. Who in their right mind would send 360 tons of cash into a war zone?

    But that's exactly what our government did. My concern is that, without strong standards, we have no way of knowing whether the cash that was shipped into the Green Zone ended up in enemy hands.