"Iraq's neighbors ought to do more to help," the president said after a day of discussion with his top national security advisers on Iraq's future.That's an excellent suggestion, and I think it's important for people to honor their commitments, but shouldn't Bush also honor his commitment to find the more than $9 billion that went missing without a trace in Iraq - as well as the $12 billion in cash that the Pentagon flew into Iraq straight from Federal Reserve vaults via military transports?
Bush said that nations around the world - many of them outside the Middle East - have pledged $13 billion for Iraq and "we expect our friends ... to honor those commitments."
What's that you say? Congress authorized an investigation, created the office of Inspector General, and Bush named an old friend and supporter, Stuart Bowen, to get to the bottom of the matter. All very true, and I assumed Bowen was still searching, until I came across this little nugget posted by The Impolitic: Bush attached a signing statement to that bill that prevented the investigation from being undertaken.
Here are some more details from Dave Lindorff, "The Case of the Missing $21 Billion: Who's Following the Iraq Money?"
[...] President Bush has been quietly setting aside over 750 acts passed by Congress, claiming he has the authority as "unitary executive" and as commander in chief to ignore such laws, it turned out that one of the laws the president chose to ignore was the one establishing the inspector general post for Iraq. What the president did was write a so-called signing statement on the side (unpublicized of course -- though it was quietly posted on the White House website), saying that the new inspector general would have no authority to investigate any contracts or corruption issues involving the Pentagon.I think the American public deserves an explanation. Why didn't Bush honor his commitment to get to the bottom of these missing funds? I think Lindorff is on the right track: "My guess is that a fair piece of those many billions of dollars is sloshing around back in the U.S. paying for things like Republican Party electoral dirty tricks, vote theft, bribing of Democratic members of Congress, and god knows what else."
As the signing statement puts it:Title III of the Act creates an Inspector General (IG) of the CPA. Title III shall be construed in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authorities to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs, to supervise the unitary executive branch, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The CPA IG shall refrain from initiating, carrying out, or completing an audit or investigation, or from issuing a subpoena, which requires access to sensitive operation plans, intelligence matters, counterintelligence matters, ongoing criminal investigations by other administrative units of the Department of Defense related to national security, or other matters the disclosure of which would constitute a serious threat to national security.Well, since most of the missing money has been going to or through the military in Iraq, and since the president can define just about anything having to do with Iraq as "national security," that pretty much meant nothing of consequence would be discovered by the inspector general in Iraq.
You might think that the inspector general himself would have complained about such a restriction on his authority to do the job that Congress had intended, but this is a man who has a long history of working as a loyal manservant to the president. Bowen was a deputy general counsel for Governor Bush (meaning he was an assistant to the ever solicitous solicitor Alberto Gonzales). He did yeoman service to Bush as a member of the team that handled the famous vote count atrocity in Florida in the November 2000 election, making sure every vote wasn't counted, and then worked under Gonzales again in the White House during Bush's first term, before returning briefly to private practice.
Bowen simply never mentioned to anyone that, courtesy of an unconstitutional order from the president, he was not doing the job that Congress had intended.
So how do we find that money? Lindorff has that covered too: "What better way to follow that money than an old-fashioned impeachment hearing into why the president unconstitutionally subverted the intent of Congress in establishing an office of special inspector general for corruption in Iraq?"
That sounds like a plan to me.