I did a cover article for The American Conservative back in 2005 called “Money for Nothing”.  I detailed how more than $20 billion of mostly Iraqi government funds earmarked for reconstruction had disappeared.  In one case a Blackhawk helicopter load of $100 bills was handed over to a contact in the Kurdish region without so much as a receipt changing hands.  The tale was horrific, particularly as Congress and the White House seemed uninterested in it, but it now seems that I underestimated the scale of the theft that was carried out by American contractors and officials as well as by corrupt Iraqis.  It is also interesting to note how supporting America’s increasingly expensive overseas empire sometimes feeds abuses back here at home.

It is being reported over at antiwar that “Between 2003 and 2008, over $40 billion in cash was secretly shipped in trucks from the New York Federal Reserve compound in East Rutherford, New Jersey to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, where it was then flown by military aircraft to Baghdad International Airport. In just the first two years, the shipments of hundred dollar bills weighed a total of 363 tons.”  The money made its way to the US authorities in Baghdad and then wound up with a Saudi-born naturalized Lebanese-American citizen hired as a civilian contractor for the US military. Only his first name is known: Basel. Basel was the last to see the money before it was deposited in the Iraqi Central Bank and then more-or-less disappeared.

But the interesting part is that the money apparently did not come out of existing accounts at the Fed.  It seems that it was just printed up to support the military presence and reconstruction effort, another example of how the non-transparent and unaccountable Fed might well be supporting the interests of the Washington status quo while doing terrible damage to the overall economy.  Occupy Wall Street would probably benefit from expanding its aim to occupy the Fed.