Enter Viceroy Bremer

Viceroy Bremer in his halcyon days

The fine fellow second in on the left is Paul Bremer - Ambassador to Iraq - shaking hands in fact with the Iraqi big cheese.  Bremer was put in by George Bush partly for years of being a politico with the Yale/Harvard degrees that made GWB such an intellectual icon, and partly because he was always in a blue blazer and khaki pants and looking every inch a preppie.

Mr.Bremer and that whole gaggle of Iraq war geese are honking away of late; urging war in Iraq, boots on the ground, lock and load, ya' wanna live forever?  But why not. Bremer never had it better

Mr. Bremer oversaw the office of reconstruction of Iraq.  He did so with such marvelous inefficiency and incompetence as to set in motion now a decade's worth of goofs.  When he was actually running Iraq (before democracy was in the desert winds) he was called a Viceroy, the perfect title.

Seems now there is a bit of a flap.  In 2003, our government started to bundle up $100 bills in big shrink wrap bundles.  These were shipped from the Federal Reserve Bank in New York (the currency depository in E. Rutherford, NJ to be exact) to big C-130 Hercules cargo planes and flown to Iraq. Once there, these huge shrink wrapped bundles of $100 bills, were put in some palace basement and Mr. Bremer passed them out as "quick payments" needed for contractors and Iraq Ministers. It took C-130 Hercules cargo planes to transport the stuff because - well there was so much of it. $2.2 billion at a time....each shipment contained 22million of these shrink wrapped $100s.  22 million of anything, even $100 bills - Benjamins to use the street phrase - weighs a lot...I'm tempted to write "a pretty penny ya'betcha!"  So about $12 billion got shrink wrapped and sent to this palace basement and wound up under the control of Viceroy Paul Bremer.

GWB is laughing and Bremer
is smiling all the way to the
bank.  GWB knows a good joke
when he sees one.
This crack bureaucrat and bean counter now had deep pockets in a nation with no economy and with people eating dust for dinner. Remember that this was the era of 2 hours of electricity a day after several years of  Bremer's oversight and Halliburton was electrocuting GIs in showers because they had run electric wiring along plumbing lines to save some money.  Mr. Bremer in his infinite wisdom figured everyone was on the up-and-up and even one $100 bill was a months wages to the average guy in Iraq so 120,000,000 x's $100s would be a cash stack so out of the realm of imagination as to not draw any attention.

Without putting any safeguards whatsoever - not even a "cash out to whom" ledger, well it became like the little cookie jar and everyone just reached into it for all manner of things.  Pretty soon it was gone. We knew about it then as suddenly the middle east was awash in $100 bills - so many in fact that counterfeit $100s also flooded the market because it was the most popular and common foreign currency piece extant.

Seems that Mr. Bremer and Co.'s utter ineptitude caused about $6.6 billion - 3 shrink wrapped planes full of $100s - 66,000,000 of them - just went poof.  No one can find it or them. Gone.  Just frittered away or stolen or both - no trace.

I suppose we could use some of that cash now that things are tough.  It's all of 3 days of the pentagon's budget so its quite a bit. It also is the public school budgets for a few thousand districts or several really huge ones - or day care for a year for a few million mom's trying to make ends meet...I dunno but it is just gone.

Thanks Viceroy Bremer for your oversight and a big shout out to GWB for making the whole thing possible.