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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.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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