Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


In the months following the fall of Saddam, the U.S. government launched the largest airlift of cash in its history, flooding Iraq with $12 billion — 281 million bills weighing 363 tons — to pay off American contractors and jump-start Iraqi ministries. But as detailed in a recent report by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Coalition Provisional Authority acted like a kid burning through Monopoly money, handing out billions without bothering to keep track of where they went. Iraqi Airways, which had been grounded for a year, got money to pay 2,400 nonexistent “ghost employees.” Custer Battles, an American security firm since indicted for defrauding the government, received a duffel filled with $2 million. As one former CPA official told Waxman’s committee, contractors who wanted to get their portion of the cash were told to “bring a big bag.”

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate