Easy money


Not that America has ever inadvertently killed the wrong people -- we only shock and awe the bad guys, don'tcha know -- but that doesn't mean we can't pay a couple grand to some families whose loved ones may have ended up dead, somehow, after the United States airstriked them to death:

Buried deep in the annual defense budget bill, passed by the House Thursday, is $5 million set aside for the Defense Department to use in Iraq if the U.S. military harms a civilian or destroys their property. [...]

It shows the Pentagon is now taking steps to be ready to compensate civilian victims -- whether they’ve lost a family member, an arm, or their house to a U.S. bomb. Such remittances typically run about $2,500 each, meaning the U.S. could hand out up to 2,000 “condolence payments” to Iraqis in the next year alone.

Given that we already liberated Iraq and sprinkled democracy all over it -- you're welcome, Iraq -- seems like spending a whopping $5 million to compensate for maiming and/or killing some of them is rather superfluous, but you know how those bleeding heart softies at the Defense Department are. However, since official U.S. policy remains blanket denial of having accidentally killed or injured any civilians in the first place, perhaps we won't be spending any unnecessary dollars after all.

As the Daily Beast explains, the "Oops, sorry we killed your kid and blowed up your limbs" fund -- officially known as the Commanders’ Emergency Response Program, aka CERP, aka "the Money as a Weapon System program" -- was originally intended to give American commanders "walking-around money" in Iraq, and then Afghanistan as well, for nice things like bribes and fixing broken windows and building schools and buying the kids freedom pops. You know, the usual.

Since 2004, the CERP fund [...] has provided American commanders with over $6 billion in petty cash to spend on small reconstruction projects that could help foster goodwill with local populations.

No one could have predicted that money might also be used to make "condolence payments" to families of Iraqis and Afghans we killed by accident, as opposed to the ones we killed on purpose. Their families can fuck right off, no money for them.

Now before you start worrying about the Pentagon's wasteful spending, rest assured that this measly amount of money allocated for "Sorry, our bad" reparations has been managed with all the care and precision we've come to expect from the overseers of our military spending:

In 2011, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found that several of the CERP projects were either at risk of failure or had questionable outcomes. Some of the money is also believed to have been lost to fraud or corruption.

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Ah, but what's a little mismanagement and fraud of a few million dollars when the Pentagon has so successfully disappeared billions of dollars in Iraq over the years, right? Besides, giving commanders petty cash to do with as they wish makes things a lot easier for them, not having to deal with paperwork or account for where the money goes. And really, it's such a minimal dollar figure compared with the $2 trillion (and counting!) we've spent mission-accomplishing in Iraq that the couple grand per dead civilian we're willing to quietly acknowledge we killed isn't all that much.

Although, hey, here's an idea! If we really wanted to save money, we could stop throwing dollars we don't have into the sinkhole that is Iraq and stop killing civilians entirely. And then just think of all the extra cash we'd have for military recruiting at sportsball games and giving our troops pharmaceutically enhanced boners.

[Daily Beast]

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