Commentary: Lax oversight, bad accounting and Iraq reconstruction

Even in the Pentagon, where tales of over-the-top costs for screwdrivers and toilet seats are legend, this is amazing. An audit, part of a report from the inspector general who looks into issues involving money set aside to aid Iraq's rebuilding, finds the Pentagon cannot account for $8.7 billion that is Iraqi money — not part of the money Congress has contributed to rebuilding ($53 billion and counting).

That's $8.7 billion with a "b," for all those who fret over a $12 discrepancy in the checkbook. The fund from which the money came is called the Development Fund for Iraq.

And just how did this happen? Ah, well no one seems to know. So far, the best anyone can do is blame lax oversight and bad accounting.

The frustration is compounded by the fact that the rebuilding process so far is hardly a triumph. The general infrastructure of the country is inconsistent on its best day. This is not an attractive situation for those who might be willing to invest in businesses in Iraq.

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