Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I'm not an Accountant
Remember back to the good old days of the Enron debacle? When we supposedly learned our lesson? When fine individuals like Kenneth Lay, Jeff Skilling, & Andrew Fastow were shocked (Shocked, I say!) that their competence, veracity, and integrity were questioned regarding the modern day financial Hindenburg explosion known as Enron. You knew you were witnessing men with cojones of King Kong proportion. When Mr. Skilling, under intense questioning from the Senate sub-committee regarding certain inexplicable chicaneries, exasperatingly exclaimed, "I am not an accountant (I am a human being!)", acknowledging head nods joggled nationwide. These guys acted as if they were an alien race. Perhaps lizards doused with radiation.

Why, of course. How could we expect the president of this fine company, whose success was based mainly on the fine art of juggling numbers, be expected to know the arcane art of corralling those numbers. No, they weren't the only money-laden hoodlums in that organization; there were quite a few. There had to be others, to pull off such a colossal auto da fe. You knew that there were a lot of other folks in that organization with the same limited accounting capacity. With the layoffs at Enron, where did they all go to? A minimal amount (2, I believe at this point) went to jail.
Perhaps others decided to take a vacation in Iraq, where money flowed even when the pipelines did not. From McSweeney's Daily Reason to Dispatch Bush, an excerpt of how we're exporting financial calamity..and funding it all ourselves. (Well, I mean that we, the taxpayers, are funding it).

DAY 110:

The provisional Iraqi government set up by the Bush administration cannot account for at least $8.8 billion given to Iraqi ministries, according to an audit by the inspector general of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The audit found that payrolls under CPA control contained thousands of ghost employees. In one instance, the CPA paid for 74,000 guards without validating that number; in another, 8,206 guards were listed on a payroll, but only 603 were known to exist.

In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, three Democratic senators wrote that "such enormous discrepancies raise very serious questions about potential fraud, waste and abuse." Another audit, released last month by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, found no evidence of fraud but said that CPA oversight had been insufficient. Despite repeated requests, the monitoring board was given no access to U.S. audits of Halliburton contracts. And in June, the British Charity Christian Aid said that at least $20 billion had disappeared from banks administered by the CPA.(Note: Funny how the investigating unit, the CPA, is also short for Certified Public Accountant. Someone there at least has a sense of humor.

(Sources: Sue Pleming, "Senators Ask Where $8.8 Bln in Iraq Funds Went," Reuters, August 19, 2004. See article at: yahoo.com/news. Emad Mekay, "'Staggering Amount' of Cash Missing in Iraq," Inter Press Service News Agency, August 21, 2004. See article at: ipsnews.net.)

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