What Ever Happened to the Pallets of Cash Sent to Iraq


The Coalition Provisional Authority made 21 shipments of cash, like this one, totaling $11.9 million to Iraq over 14 months, according to Vanity Fair. The feds shipped 281 million individual banknotes or 363 tons of money.

Remember those pictures of billions of dollars of U.S. currency, neatly stacked on pallets, and airlifted to Iraq? The money was ostensibly going to be used to maintain basic services for Iraqis and kickstart a nascent democracy. Well, $9 billion of that $12 billion is unaccounted for, missing, gone.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele follow the trail in an astounding must-read article in this month’s Vanity Fair. The trail begins on Route 17 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, of all places, where the Federal Reserve Bank of New York maintains an operations center that reportedly holds upwards of $60 billion in cash. Who knew?

It’s hard to say where the trail ends since the story raises as many questions as it answers. A good starting place for Congress to look would be NorthStar Consultants, which was awarded a $1.4 million contract to provide accounting and audit services to the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The company, along with a home improvement business, operates out of a private house in La Jolla, California, has a mailing address in the Bahamas, and is connected with Patrick Thomson who figured prominently in a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $200 million, according to Barlett and Steele. And, oh yeah, the NorthStar did not employ any certified public accounts either, according to the article.

In an interview with Democracy Now, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan said he found the story “very unlikely” and said he was “not familiar with any such evidence.” Barlett and Steele returned to the program this week to refute Greenspan’s claims and talk more about the Vanity Fair article.

You can see the interview in two parts here and here.

This explosive piece of investigative journalism has sponsored outrage in Congress and across the nation, right? Not exactly.

Barlett told Democracy Now that “basically no one has looked at it and it goes beyond the news media it also goes to the heart of congressional investigating committees of government…nobody is interested and that really raises red flags in our mind as to why you wouldn’t be curious about a company assigned the task of making sure billions don’t disappear and they disappear.”