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Pentagon lost $100 million in Saddam's palace

Published time: January 30, 2012 22:32
Edited time: January 31, 2012 02:32
Iraq, Camp Victory: A view across a pond on November 7, 2011, leading to the Al-Faw palace formerly belonging to executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and located in what is now the US military Camp Victory complex in Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ali Al-Saadi)

Iraq, Camp Victory: A view across a pond on November 7, 2011, leading to the Al-Faw palace formerly belonging to executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and located in what is now the US military Camp Victory complex in Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ali Al-Saadi)

But did they check under the cushions of the palatial sofa?

The US Department of Defense has a budget in the hundreds of billions, and a hefty chunk of that, funds tied to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, have disappeared.

The Pentagon says more than $100 million cash that was supposed to be at Hussein’s Baghdad palace and upwards of $1.7 billion held at the New York Federal Reserve have disappeared in thin air. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has been investigating the mysterious funds since before the US even wrapped up its war overseas, and still unable to make sense of the missing money. The Pentagon has confirmed that they just don’t know where the nearly $2 billion has gone.

In the official report by way of the Special Inspector General’s office, the absent funds are accounted as a “records management” error. Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general in charge of the audit, tells National Journal that the mistake could make things worse for Iraqi-American relations, even after the war overseas has “officially” ended.

"It's symptomatic of the poor record keeping that was rife throughout the early stages of the reconstruction effort," Bowen tells the National Journal. Bowen has conducted three other large audits over the funding placed in American hands, which has accounted for roughly $21 billion since the US took control of Iraqi assets at the onset of the war.

"There have been threats in the past by the Iraqi government that they may seek recompense in the form of filing against the United States for what they view as an abuse of fiduciary duty," adds Bowen, and he says that might be the case once more. "I expect this latest report will simply increase interest on their side in filing such a claim… [and] fuel the continued concern on the part of the government of Iraq about the failure of the reconstruction program managers to maintain adequate records regarding the use of Iraqi funds,” he tells the Journal.

News of the missing loot comes at the same time that it has been revealed that, despite bringing troops back to America, the United States has admitted to dispatching a fleet of unmanned robotic surveillance drones over Iraq. The US State Department has confirmed that unarmed drones will continue to fly over Iraqi skies, but some overseas are weary that those planes will soon be capable of firepower.

This won’t be the first time the US has goofed on a large amount of Iraqi cash either. Last year, US officials admitted to misplacing a separate sum of Iraq reconstruction funds, that time totaling around $6.6 billion. Months later, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction confirmed that most of the money had been recovered.