- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > Politics

Buddy, Can You Spare Twelve Billion Dollars?

11 February 2007

You have to smile grimly at the incompetence of the American administration in Iraq that has managed to 'lose' $12 billion in $100 bills. The cash was flown into Iraq on military transport planes in shrink-wrapped bricks during 2003. After that, nobody's quite sure where most of it went.

Some was given to contractors (what we used to call 'mercenaries'). A bunch of modern day 'Kelly's Heroes' lifted $740,000 from an army division's vault. Enterprising Iraqi ministries created thousands of 'ghost' employees, put them on the payroll and watched the good times roll in.

Oh, and some of it might have reached the insurgency. American dollars may very well have bought the guns and ammunition that were later fired at American troops. And they say you can't please all the people all the time. Saddam Hussein isn't the only dead president in Iraq - the country's awash with them.

As Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the US Congress' committee on oversight and government reform, which is trying to get to the bottom of the spendthriftery, said this week: 'The numbers are so large that it doesn't seem possible that they're true. Who in their right mind would send 363 tonnes of cash into a war zone?'

Who indeed? Right minds have been in short supply in Iraq in recent years. They say if the cap fits, wear it. But if you were a milliner making caps for right minds in the American administration right now, you'd be out of business in less than a week. Has Waxman asked them if they've checked down the back of the sofa?

In an attempt to grasp the enormity of it, here are some quick sums.

$12,000,000,000 is 120,000,000 $100 bills. An American $100 bill is 6.1 inches by 2.6 inches. So 120,000,000 bills gives us an area of 1,923,048,000 square inches. Or 30,351 square miles.

That's enough to paper the whole of Scotland with a single layer of $100 bills.

All the bills laid end to end would stretch for 11,630 miles. That's almost all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole. Or twice around John Prescott. Also, by pleasing coincidence, 11,630 is the number of years it's going to take Tony Blair to live down his role in this fiasco. Or apologise.

Clearly, once The War Against Terror is won, stupidity has *got* to be the next abstract noun on our list. One day we'll all look back on all this and have a good laugh.

In about 11,630 years.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free

Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved