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    30 November 2004

    oil and Iraq

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    Some more fallout from this administrations handleing of the war in Iraq comes from the use of money from oil (I wonder how and/or if Haliburton is involved. . .). Frank Willis, a recent American official in Iraq says "[t]here was, in my mind, pervasive leakage in [the] assets of Iraq, and to some extent, those assets were squandered" the story (from NBC) continues:
    In one photograph, Willis and colleagues showed off a $2 million payment to a security contractor.

    "It was time for payment," he remembers. "We told them to come in and bring in a bag. It reminded me of the Wild West."

    In a series of reports on U.S. management of the oil money, auditors working for the United Nation's Iraq Advisory and Monitoring Board and the Inspector General of the Coalition Provisional Authority found:

    Insufficient controls

    Missing records

    Two sets of books at Iraq's Finance Ministry, which did not match

    In one example of insufficient controls, the United States stored hundreds of millions of oil dollars in a vault in a Baghdad palace. Government auditors found that the key to the vault was kept “unsecured” — in a U.S. official’s backpack.

    Iraq’s U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, pledged last year to hire a certified public accounting firm to ensure proper controls. But the United States gave the contract not to an accounting firm but to a tiny consulting company, Northstar — which NBC News found is headquartered at a private home near San Diego.

    "They violated the rules. They picked a contractor who didn’t meet their requirements," says Paul Light, a government contracting expert and professor at New York University.

    Northstar’s president says the Pentagon knew Northstar was not a certified public accounting firm and that four experienced employees went to Iraq and did a good job. However, one audit notes that a single Northstar employee maintained spreadsheets tracking billions of dollars.

    (. . .)

    But NBC News has learned that a draft government audit faults the United States for “inadequate stewardship” of up to $8.8 billion in oil money, handed over to Iraq’s ministries but never fully accounted for.

    to change the subject, check this out:
    'Blog' Tops U.S. Dictionary's Words of the Year

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