Here we go. The headline from the AP
"U.S. officials in postwar Iraq paid a contractor..."
WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. officials in postwar Iraq paid a contractor by stuffing $2 MILLION worth of crisp bills into his gunnysack and routinely made cash payments around Baghdad from a PICK-UP TRUCK, a former official with the U.S. occupation government says.
Because the country lacked a functioning banking system, contractors and Iraqi ministry officials were paid with bills taken from a basement vault in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces that served as headquarters for the Coalition Provisional Authority, former CPA official Frank Willis said.
Officials from the CPA, which ruled Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004, would count the money when it left the vault, but nobody kept track of the cash after that, Willis said.
''In sum: inexperienced officials, fear of decision-making, lack of communications, minimal security, no banks, and lots of money to spread around. This chaos I have referred to as a 'Wild West,''' Willis said in testimony he prepared to give Monday before a panel of Democratic senators who want to spotlight the waste of U.S. funds in Iraq.
And now...the good part:
Describing the transfer of $2 million to one contractor's gunnysack, Willis said: ''It was time for payment. We told them to come in and bring a bag.'' He said the money went to Custer Battles of Middletown, R.I., for providing airport security in Baghdad for civilian passengers.
Quick bit about Custer Battles ("Transforming Risk Into Opportunity") from their website: "Custer Battles, LLC, an international business risk consultancy, is a veteran owned business that provides objective risk management and security consulting services of the highest quality and within an ethical framework."
Willis said a coalition driver would go around the Iraqi capital and disburse money from the a pickup truck formerly belonging to the grounded Iraqi Airways airline. The reason is because officials ''wanted to meld into the environment,'' he said.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE, CPA OFFICE - DAY
An AMERICAN OFFICIAL sits at the giant mahagony desk in the CPA's main office. The room used to be Saddam Hussein's favorite library, but is now decorated with American flags and pictures of George Bush.
The phone rings.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - Hello?
EXT. BAGHDAD, GREEN ZONE - SAME
CPL. JIMBO SNODGRASS, C.B.'S Exec VP of Field Operations, is driving around the Green Zone in a Humvee limo. Cpl. Snodgrass is dressed in semi-military garb and is armed to the fucking teeth. A FOXY YOUNG SECRETARY sits beside Cpl. Snodgrass and pours a vodka martini for her boss. Cpl. Snodgrass adjusts his cell phone headset.
CPL. SNODGRASS - Jimbo checking in.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - My friend, where are you?
CPL. SNODGRASS - Ah, you know, just blowin' off some steam.
AMERICAN OFFCIAL - Glad to hear it. All work and no play makes Jimbo a dull boy.
CPL. SNODGRASS - You know it.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - Time for payment, my man.
CPL. SNODGRASS - Now we're talkin.'
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - Come on in. And bring a bag.
CPL. SNODGRASS - Love it. Wait. Hold on.
Cpl. Snodgrass hits a button; the Humvee's back window rolls down. Cpl. Snodgrass pulls out an AK-47 and points it toward the street.
CPL. SNODGRASS - Hold your ears, honey.
The foxy young secretary jumps out of the way as Cpl. Snodgrass sprays the street with his assault weapon.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - (alarmed) Jim, what's going on?!
CPL. SNODGRASS - Nothing. Just a bunch of kids playin' soccer.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - You mean "future insurgents."
CPL. SNODGRASS - Right. Whatever. I'll be at your office in ten.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - Got it.
CPL. SNODGRASS - Snodgrass out.
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE, CPA OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER
A large pick-up truck with an "Iraqi Airways" logo on its side pulls away from the loading dock of Saddam's former palace; the loading dock is surrounded by armed AMERICAN SOLDIERS. Seconds later, the Humvee limo pulls up to the ramp; Cpl. Snodgrass jumps out of the limo and salutes the soldiers.
CPL. SNODGRASS - At ease, gentlemen.
The American Official emerges from the building's interior; he's carrying a large briefcase and is surrounded by PRIVATE SECURITY GUARDS.
AMERICAN OFFCIAL - JIm!
The two men embrace.
AMERICAN OFFCIAL - Did you bring a bag?
CPL. SNODGRASS - Are liberals gay?
The men share a laugh.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - It's all here. Two million big ones.
CPL. SNODGRASS - Hmm. Gee. How will I spend it?
Cpl. Snodgrass stares at the foxy young secretary. She giggles. Cpl. Snodgrass pulls out a gunnysack and begins to stuff the cash into the bag.
CPL. SNODGRASS - We ain't doin' the receipt thing this time, are we?
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - (deadpan) What's that?
CPL. SNODGRASS - I like your style, Craig. Have for years.
Cpl. Snodgrass grabs a wad of cash and hands it to the American Official.
CPL. SNODGRASS - Here. Here's a little something, you know, for your efforts.
AMERICAN OFFICIAL - Oh, Jim, I couldn't.
The men share another laugh as the American Official takes the cash and we...
Some final excerpts from the article:
Willis' allegations follow by two weeks an inspector general's report that concluded the occupying authority transferred nearly $9 billion to Iraqi government ministries without any financial controls.
The money was designated for financing humanitarian needs, economic reconstruction, repair of facilities, disarmament and civil administration, but the authority had no way to verify that it went for those purposes, the audit said.