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In the months following the fall of Saddam, the U.S. government launched the largest airlift of cash in its history, flooding Iraq with $12 billion — 281 million bills weighing 363 tons — to pay off American contractors and jump-start Iraqi ministries. But as detailed in a recent report by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Coalition Provisional Authority acted like a kid burning through Monopoly money, handing out billions without bothering to keep track of where they went. Iraqi Airways, which had been grounded for a year, got money to pay 2,400 nonexistent “ghost employees.” Custer Battles, an American security firm since indicted for defrauding the government, received a duffel filled with $2 million. As one former CPA official told Waxman’s committee, contractors who wanted to get their portion of the cash were told to “bring a big bag.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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