The Pentagon has no idea where $6.6 billion in Iraq reconstruction money went, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. At the height of the reconstruction effort, C-130 Hercules cargo planes were carrying $2.4 billion each in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. "They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time," reports Paul Richter. "This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash." $6 billion!? That's quite a lot of cash. To get a sharper sense, here's what else costs $6 billion:
- Iowa and South Carolina's respective 2011 budgets
- President Obama's plan to "develop commercial rockets capable of taking astronauts into orbit"
- Zimbabwe's GDP last year
- The federal Medicare prescription drug program in 2008
- The amount Google offered to pay for Groupon (a daily deal site that generates $2 billion in annual revenue)
- The amount it costs to run Chicago Public Schools for a year