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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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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