Billions of Afghanistan War Dollars Missing

KANDAHAR CITY — In its bid to win the hearts and minds of Afghanistan’s teeming population, the United States has spent more than $55 billion to rebuild and bolster the war-ravaged country.That money was meant to cover everything from the construction of government buildings and economic development projects to the salaries of U.S. government employees working closely with Afghans.

Chinook Choppers in Afghanistan

Chinook Choppers in Afghanistan

Yet no one can say with any authority or precision how that money was spent and who profited from it. Most of the funds were funneled to a vast array of U.S. and foreign contractors. But according to a recent audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), there is no way of knowing whether the money went for the intended purposes.

The audit shows that navigating the confusing labyrinth of government contracting is difficult, at best,” SIGAR said in releasing the audit. “USAID, the State Department and the Pentagon are unable to readily report on how much money they spend on contracting for reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.”

One large part of the problem is that the United States is not demanding accountability for outgoing funds from U.S. companies which have little incentive to fully disclose where the U.S. money is going. Add to this the many Afghan companies that have minimal accounting capabilities and you have a recipe for a massive misappropriation of funds. The money flows from Washington to Afghanistan, with little oversight and accountability, and at every step along the way someone else takes a cut.

“There’s no mechanism to track where this money is going,” said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, an independent, nonprofit group that investigates government corruption. “Security problems persist and this money doesn’t seem to be accomplishing a real mission.”

As staggering amounts of U.S. tax dollars virtually vanish down a black hole, many of the government projects designed to foster improved relations with the Afghan people and undermine the appeal of the Taliban have fallen far behind schedule or simply aren’t completed. In October, SIGAR found that six Afghan National Police buildings were so poorly built that they are unusable. They were constructed at a cost of $5 million by Basirat Construction, an Afghan construction company.

Another report found that the United States has spent nearly $200 million on Afghan security service buildings that cannot be used. SIGAR also found that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) couldn’t account for nearly $18 billion that was paid to some 7,000 U.S. and Afghan contractors for development projects. Afghan contractors often pay kickbacks to local warlords, like Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president’s brother and the so-called “King of Kandahar.” Their actions often undermine the work of the coalition.

Botched construction projects aren’t the only U.S. failures. Earlier this summer, coalition forces cleared Malajat, a longstanding Taliban stronghold in the eastern flatlands just outside of Kandahar City. But after they were forced out in September, many of the residents of Malajat remained sympathetic to the Taliban’s cause.

In an effort to project provincial and national authority and strengthen Afghan infrastructure, Canada’s Commander’s Emergency Response Program and the USAID ordered the construction of four government buildings in Malajat where local residents could meet with government officials to air grievances. The complex was meant to symbolically supplant Taliban power and influence.

In accordance with U.S. General David Petraeus’ plan to expand contracting awards to Afghan firms, Afghan companies were hired late in September. The contractors then hired Afghan subcontractors to begin construction in the shadow of a fortress built by Alexander the Great around 330 B.C.

Since then, however, little work has been done and the project has fallen behind schedule. As of early November, Afghans earning about a dollar a day had only dug holes for the foundation of the building complex, which was optimistically scheduled to be completed by July.

Work Habits, Cultural Mandates

Most Afghans do little work in the winter months. Despite numerous inquiries, U.S. and Canadian officials could not estimate the cost of the project. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former top U.S. commander in Kandahar, told The Fiscal Times that the success of the Kandahar offensive will depend in part on the United States and its allies building Afghan economic, political and security infrastructure over the winter. Projects like the Malajat government building are essential to keeping the Taliban out once the fighting season resumes next spring, especially as the U.S. strategy review has shown tenuous progress here. But there is little confidence among soldiers and development workers that this project will be completed in time.

“We can pour as much money as we want into this and it’s not getting done by the spring,” said an official with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT), a civilian and Canadian-led organization jointly operated with the United States. “These people [Afghan contractors] have no accountability.” Thomas Ford, a spokesman for the KPRT project, said he could not reveal the identities of Afghan contractors involved because of security concerns. He also said he did “not have the exact cost figures in front of [him]”and declined to provide them. Canadian forces, along with KPRT, are scheduled to leave next summer. The United States is expected to assume sole responsibility for their projects.

Petraeus, commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, acknowledged in a September memorandum that the contracting process in Afghanistan has been deeply flawed for years and needed to be changed if the Afghan war is to be won.

“With proper oversight, contracting can spur economic development and support the Afghan government and NATO’s campaign objectives,” wrote Petraeus. “If, however, we spend large quantities of international contracting funds quickly and with insufficient oversight, it is likely that some of those funds will unintentionally fuel corruption, finance insurgent organizations, strengthen criminal patronage networks and undermine our efforts in Afghanistan.”

Read more via: businessinsider


14 comments to Billions of Afghanistan War Dollars Missing

  • Gus

    So what's new? Corruption exists everywhere….even within our government. Consider money wasted because no one in our government really gives a damn.

  • Liz

    It's just part of the plan to bankrupt the Nation

  • Gary

    People will believe everything they read. The way it works, you do a little work, get the work inspected, than get paid. Than you do a little more work, get inspected again, than get paid. You don't just hand someone over 5 million dollars and say go do it. It just doesn't work that way …

  • Leokadia Dunn

    What are your intention ??

  • mIchael

    Ive seen things that we have built over there. electric plants that were not In use. brand new buildings that have not been occupied Equipment brand new just rotting away. When does the insanity STOP. When are we going to learn that we are being taken advantage of. Wasting millions and millions of dollars, when we could use the money right here where It belongs. Wake up you Political people. We elect you to make decision for the betterment of our country. I know very well that It can be accomplished ., but we need you ( our government to ACT NOW !!!!!! When we leave It goes back to what It was before and unfortunately thats a shame.BUT STAYING Is more of a shame then anything.FACT Is we have to leave sometime, and to be honest with you WE LOST with our Lives and our economy . So lets stop the bullshit and get this Country back to where we should and deserve to BE .. thank You for your honorable Ear !!!!!!!!!!!

  • becky craddock

    i like michael and liz comments so true. becky

  • W J

    An't that's the truth

  • anonymous

    Be advised, the United States government is now fully controlled by Queen Elizabeth II. She has an army of agents who control our media and deceive the American people into electing her loyal Knights. The evening news isn't merely biased, it's complete propaganda, all of it. Federal, state, and even much of county and city government are in her hands, unless you personally know them, trust nobody. Our only hope for a peaceful resolution is for the American people to be aware of what is going on. She is in the final stages of a complete takeover, the non-stop push to ban guns is in keeping with a long standing policy of the monarchy, she is the one behind it. The two party system is a fraud, there is only one party, always her Knights. She has completely infiltrated and subverted our government. All the pure gold in Fort Knox has been taken to London and Israel, only low grade copper mixed gold is left. The U.S. Constitution is in more danger than in anytime of our history. This message is real, but you need to research for yourself.

  • anonymous

    Not only is Queen Elizabeth II fully in control of our government, all the nonsense wars are wars for British Imperialism. She is not merely a figurehead, she rules actually.

  • What is wrong with you people?! In less than two minutes, you can have complete protection:

  • anonymous

    Went threw this in the Vietnam War as well!History has a sober way of repeating itself time after time with the major powers of big business in the shadows invisible and raking in the profits.Where there is money to be made the corparate world is in hiding with the common citizen suffering for it.

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