How can we possibly hope to move forward in any meaningful way in the Middle East when we look back and find that all our efforts and money in at least one country have been fraught with corruption, deceit, and unpaid bills by our government?
Why do we persist in allowing this abuse by congress and presidents to continue?
A 2011 article in Stars and Stripes points up the problem of funding when the governments we are attempting to help refuse to be transparent and corruption is rampant.
In the article “U.S. has lost sight of cash from $70 billion sent to Afghanistan: Inspector General”, the author, Kevin Baron, states:
“…the U.S. cannot track all of the cash it has infused into Afghanistan after nearly 10 years of war and $70 billion in security and development projects. But a blistering audit released in July 2011 found that untold amounts of American taxpayer dollars are vulnerable to winding up in the pockets of insurgents, and blames both countries for a dysfunctional tracking system.
How bad is it? Afghan President Hamid Karzai has barred U.S. government advisers from the Afghan central bank, according to Treasury officials who called the bank a “hostile” environment. Nobody is writing down the serial numbers of the cash flying through customs at Kabul International Airport. And the U.S. is having trouble identifying financial crimes because Afghan officials are reluctant to prosecute.
“U.S. agencies have limited visibility over U.S. cash that enters the Afghan economy — leaving it vulnerable to fraud and diversion to the insurgency,” concluded the Office of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.
That assertion may not surprise reporters who have tracked wartime money. In Iraq, $6 billion held by U.S. banks went missing after it was returned to Iraq as pallets of cash.”
The January 30, 2017 Quarterly Report by SIGAR upgraded that expenditure when it stated,
” Since 2002, Congress has appropriated more than $117 billion for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. It is the largest expenditure to rebuild a country in our nation’s history. This tremendous amount of taxpayer money has been used to train Afghan security forces, stand up the Afghan government, provide health care and education to the Afghan people, and develop the Afghan economy. U.S. and international donors recently pledged to continue supporting Afghanistan through 2020, with our contribution expected to remain at or near current levels of about $5 billion per year.
This quarter, SIGAR issued 13 audits, inspections, alert letters, and other products, including an audit alert letter in response to a congressional inquiry about the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations’ use of private villas in Afghanistan. SIGAR also published a performance audit report that examined the accuracy of data the U. S. Agency for International Development used to report progress in Afghanistan’s health-care sector.
SIGAR completed three financial audits of U.S.-funded contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements to rebuild Afghanistan. These financial audits identified more than $2.4 million in questioned costs as a result of internal-control deficiencies and noncompliance issues. To date, SIGAR’s financial audits have identified nearly $380 million in questioned costs.
SIGAR also published a follow-up inspection report examining the Sheberghan teacher training facility and SIGAR’s Office of Special Projects issued six products, expressing concern on a range of issues, including the abandonment of a large Overseas Private Investment Corporation-funded hotel and apartment building construction project in Kabul and a U.S. Embassy Kabul grantee’s unsuccessful efforts to increase Afghan women’s participation in the sport of cricket. Special Project products also included observations from site visits to 25 USAID-funded schools in Herat Province and site inspections of 30 USAID supported health facilities in Baghlan Province.
During the reporting period, SIGAR criminal investigations resulted in one conviction and six sentencings; nearly $2 million in criminal fines and restitution; a recovery of $320,000 from a civil settlement; and the termination of a $99 million, improperly awarded, sole-source contract. SIGAR initiated 18 new investigations and closed 13, bringing the total number of ongoing investigations to 259.”
Under a separate report SIGAR noted they had reviewed 164 nonpayment-related complaints received through SIGAR’s Hotline between October 2012 and August 2015. Many of the contractor nonpayment disputes reported to SIGAR were due to the contractor’s lack of understanding of the contracting process, the contractor’s lack of access to U.S.-based legal remedies, or the contractor’s lack of access to the U.S. contracting officer.
“The United States has poured billions of aid dollars into a country plagued by corruption, insurgency and the narcotics trade. It is essential that we use all available tools to ensure that U.S. dollars are protected from fraud and diversion to the insurgency,” said Herbert Richardson, acting Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, in a statement made in 2011.
As of January 30, 2017, there are still at least six times and manpower-consuming ongoing investigations and studies being done by SIGAR and OIG to clear up the issue oversight in Afghanistan.
But the lesson we SHOULD be focused on is the continuing drain on our tax dollars when little has been done to ensure that the money is being well spent or the country better served by our assistance.
Why are people there using private villas and how much are they costing our government? What else is happening in those countries that has yet to be brought to light? What happened to the sunset clauses we should have on ANY project where funds are being used or transferred to assist?
Why in the world did we accept or allow the transfer IN CASH over the years? Why are we continuing to deal without repercussions with banks and governments in decidedly hostile areas of the world who refuse to provide transparency and show how our money output is utilized? Where are the certified fixed asset expenditure reports showing a measurement of cost, payments, and return?
Better yet, how do we go forward and stop this seemingly uncontrollable propensity to shell out our country’s lifeblood to appease our interference in world affairs and the ill-conceived vision of the US as the Santa Claus of the world?
I realize, like we all do, that Afghanistan and Iraq are extremely vulnerable and devastated countries. Whether brought on by our interference in their politics, social agendas, or the rise of extremists, these countries are now rubble and millions have been murdered or displaced. How can we stop such behavior like that kind of cash practice and actions? When do we say enough to corrupt practices in-country or here in the US that seem to continue indefinitely when little has improved either in the training of their soldiers (many having defected to ISIS) or social/health assistance when those few left are in fear of their lives daily? Why were we even funding totally ridiculous activities on a large cash scale like women’s participation in cricket of all things? Shouldn’t we be more worried about elimination of the threat rather than certain “projects”, especially hairbrained ones?
The Bush and Obama administrations created a great deal of the corrupt practices we are experiencing and the unrest throughout the world either on purpose or more innocently as a result of trying to correct problems and social injustice ills of the planet. Just as the United Nations, those pushing one world governance, and the shadow puppets pulling strings from the dark corners of the world are also part of the problem.
Greed and a “demi-god” attitude are literally destroying every civilization around the world now.