Friday, November 10, 2006

What to do with all that power?

I was discussing with a hawkish colleague today the consequences for Iraq of the Democratic electoral victory. He was all gloom and doom, positing all the catastrophic changes the "Democrat Party" will make to our [non-existent] Iraq Strategy. I really wonder what there is to worry about: the President prosecutes this war, and the Congress really can't affect how he does that. Theoretically the checks and balances in our system would keep the Administration in line, and legislators are responsible for oversight, appropriations, etc. But in reality, Bush just sort of does what he [Rumsfeld] wants, and sends the bill to Congress. Who in turn passes it on to the next generation.

So the Dems are catching a lot of flak for their [as-yet unvoiced] intentions to probe and investigate the way we got into the war. A large part of me questions the wisdom of this; while digging up the bodies may palliate the liberal bloodlust, it really doesn't give any cohesive structure to what we do about Iraq NOW. It just seems like petty revenge to me.

Then I read this, and I realize that this Congress really has its work cut out for it:

Democrats: Eager to bring accountability back into government? Here's a suggestion. Find out what happened to the nearly $9 billion dollars of Iraqi oil funds and reconstruction cash missing in action since the beginning of the war.

In the aftermath of the invasion, planes filled with shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills were flown into Baghdad. Wondering how much money fits into a plane? "It was $2 billion a flight, and I know of at least six flights," Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told the BBC. Waiting at the airport for the planeloads of greenbacks was David Oliver. Head of the CPA's finance department, he handed much of this money over to the Iraqi provisional government. After that the paper trail grows colder. According to Mr. Bowen, some it found its way into the pockets of Iraqi politicians.

When asked by a reporter where the money went, Oliver replied he didn't know and didn't care. "Billions of dollars of their money disappeared, yes I understand, I'm saying what difference does it make?" In his defense, Oliver insists there were unexpected and pressing emergencies in the war's aftermath, with little time for accounting procedures. But early warnings had been issued by groups like Iraq Revenue Watch about the potential for mismangement and corruption. These were ignored.

If we fail to hold our government to account for our past failures, we are doomed to repeat them. Only by digging up the bodies can we prevent others from being buried. To the Democrat Party, I say: Get 'em.


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