Inquiry Into Iraqi Graft Expands to Top US Officers

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2009 12:30 AM CST
Workers operate machines at a construction site on the dam in Mosul, Iraq, in 2007.   (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)
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(Newser) – The United States' poor track record on rebuilding Iraq has long been chalked up to lousy planning by Pentagon brass. But an expanding investigation by federal authorities adds another element to the mix: possible corruption by the military commanders who oversaw reconstruction in the Wild West days after the invasion, the New York Times reports. Investigators have subpoenaed the bank records of an Army colonel and an Air Force lieutenant colonel, both of whom deny wrongdoing.

The investigation began with independent contractors and mid-level officials but has now expanded to focus on high-ranking officers. It reads like a spy thriller, the Times notes: wads of cash stuffed into pizza boxes, an unlimited supply of money, clandestine drops, and nearly no oversight of how the military doled out contracts. One of the main whistleblowers, an American contractor and arms dealer, was shot dead in Baghdad, though investigators haven't linked his death to the corruption allegations.