Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Iraq's "ghost employees"

Paul Bremer, former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in charge of governing Iraq right after the invasion, was questioned yesterday by a Congressional inquiry into exactly where the fuck $8.8 billion (of taxpayers' money) disappeared to in that hellhole. Bremer testified that a lot of it was paid to so-called "ghost employees" -- employees whose existence the CPA couldn't actually confirm. Bremer just took the word of the Iraqis providing security for the government ministries that there were other employees who needed to be paid -- in cash. Bremer continued paying the "ghost employees" to "keep the peace":

"On the streets, you'd call that protection money," remarked Congressman Danny Davis, an Illinois Democrat. When Davis asked whether any of that money had wound up in the hands of insurgents, Bremer said he didn't know. But "if we stopped paying them, my judgment was we could have real trouble." ... "When auditors first confirmed that there were ghost employees in a couple of ministries, "we asked what they had done about it," Bowen said, "and they said they had made the decision to keep paying it, to keep the peace." In one ministry, about 25 percent of the total 8,200 could not be "validated," - matched with a person, Bowen said. In another, "just a fraction" of the 1,400 employees could be located."

As if it's not bad enough that all this money was paid to non-existent employees, it's suspected that some of it may have financed the insurgency.

Amazingly, Bremer still feels justified in conducting the CPA's finances in such a mindblowingly fucked-up way. But that shouldn't be surprising; this is the guy who thought it would be a good idea to fire the entire Iraqi army en masse and send them all home with their weapons. (Instant insurgency, DUH.) But in the Bush administration, if you fuck up badly enough,you get the Medal Of Freedom.