“And there's this low boil on Iraq until the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21, 2001. This is 72 days after 9/11. This is part of this secret history. President Bush, after a National Security Council meeting, takes Don Rumsfeld aside, collars him physically, and takes him into a little cubbyhole room and closes the door and says, ‘What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq? What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret.’"
Woodward says immediately after that, Rumsfeld told Gen. Tommy Franks to develop a war plan to invade Iraq and remove Saddam - and that Rumsfeld gave Franks a blank check.
”Rumsfeld and Franks work out a deal essentially where Franks can spend any money he needs. And so he starts building runways and pipelines and doing all the preparations in Kuwait, specifically to make war possible,” says Woodward.
“Gets to a point where in July, the end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn't know and it is done. They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. …Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."
WASHINGTON — It weighed 28 tons and took up as much room as 74 washing machines. It was $2.4 billion in $100 bills, and Baghdad needed it ASAP.
The initial request from U.S. officials in charge of Iraq required the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to decide whether it could open its vault on a Sunday, a day banks aren't usually open.
"Just when you think you've seen it all," read one e-mail from an exasperated Fed official.
"Pocket change," said another e-mail.
Then, when the shipment date changed, officials had to scramble to line up U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo planes to hold the money. They did, and the $2,401,600,000 was delivered to Baghdad on June 22, 2004.
It was the largest one-time cash transfer in the history of the New York Fed.
Disclosure of the frantic transfer in the final days of U.S. control over Iraq came during a daylong hearing Tuesday that indicated growing worry from Congress over U.S. oversight of spending in Iraq.
Both Republicans and Democrats appeared taken aback by the volume of cash sent to Iraq: nearly $12 billion over the course of the U.S. occupation from March 2003 to June 2004, said a report by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), who had reviewed e-mails and documents subpoenaed from the bank.
The cash — a total of 363 tons, generated mostly from oil revenues — was Iraqi funds that had been held in trust by the Federal Reserve under the terms of a United Nations resolution.
The June 2004 money transfer was needed to run the country as the interim Iraqi government took over from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, officials said.
Rep. Christopher Shays ( R-Conn.), chairman of the House national security subcommittee, criticized the Pentagon's handling of the money known as the Development Fund for Iraq.
"It's very clear that … we didn't have systems in place to account" for the funds, he said.
"It doesn't mean they weren't spent well, but, given my sense of human temptation, I suspect some of it was, frankly, taken," Shays said.
"I can't believe that all this cash just floating around all went perfectly to the right place."
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