Forgot to carry the four…

The high cost of Operation Inigo Montoya:

On April 23, 2003, Andrew S. Natsios, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, laid out in a televised interview the costs to U.S. taxpayers of rebuilding Iraq. “The American part of this will be $1.7 billion,” he said. “We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.”

That turned out to be off by orders of magnitude. The administration, which asked Congress for another $20 billion for Iraq reconstruction five months after Natsios made his assertion, has said it expects overall Iraqi reconstruction costs to be as much as $75 billion this year alone.

The transcript of that interview has been pulled from the USAID Web site, the agency said, “to reflect current statements and testimony on Iraq reconstruction.” The earlier $1.7 billion figure was “the best estimate available at the time, based on very limited information about the conditions inside of Iraq.”

Natsios was far from the only one to offer low-ball figures. Similarly, a report by the White House Office of Management and Budget in late March 2003, said: “Iraq will not require sustained aid.” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, in February 2003, dismissed reports that Pentagon budget specialists had put the cost of reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion during the first year — in retrospect, relatively accurate forecasts. In testimony to Congress on March 27, 2003, Wolfowitz said Iraq “can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” In fact, the administration has already sought more than $150 billion for the Iraq effort.

On the other hand, George HW Bush got the best-est Christmas present ever. And what price can you put on old man’s happiness?

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....