U.S. Has No Idea How Much Aid To The Afghan Government Is Being Stolen

An IG report on Afghan aid and an interview with a terrorist suspect show why the U.S. is a long way from ending the war on terror

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Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images

Afghan President Hamid Karzai gestures during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on January 25, 2014.

None of the Afghan ministries that have been receiving $1.6 billion in foreign aid from U.S. taxpayers are currently able “to manage and account for funds,” a report [pdf] from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) concluded on Thursday.

The condemnation of American aid safeguards points to yet another challenge the U.S. will face as it tries to pivot away from the war on terror. Obama reined in drone strikes in 2013 and is negotiating with Congress a draft replacement of its 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against al Qaeda and its allies. He is also overseeing the wind down of the military detention of terrorist suspects, taking steps towards closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and negotiating the final handover of prisoners held by the U.S. at a military facility outside Kabul.

In Afghanistan, he plans to withdraw all combat troops by the end of the year, while continuing foreign aid. But the SIGAR report found that USAID hadn’t required the Afghan government to implement the vast majority of the safeguards the aid agency and others had come up with after previous reviews. Says John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, “Our military presence may be getting smaller but there are billions of dollars in the pipeline for reconstruction. Now more than ever we need greater vigilance to ensure that American taxpayers aren’t fleeced.”

Last May, President Obama declared that the war on terrorism, “like all wars, must end” and he echoed that sentiment in his State of the Union speech last Tuesday, declaring that, “America must move off a permanent war footing.” A key element to that effort, he said Tuesday, is “building the capacity of our foreign partners.”

I take a closer look at the challenges of ending the war on terror in a story in this week’s magazine. In it, I interview a terrorism suspect named Sabir Ali Khan who is resisting extradition to the U.S. from the Netherlands, and I assess how America’s wind down of military detention means an increased reliance on other countries.

Khan was arrested by the Pakistanis in Sept. 2010 and held for eight months in two secret prisons and he alleges he was tortured during his detention. A Dutch citizen, he was flown to the Netherlands where he is free while the Dutch courts decide if the U.S. had anything to do with his detention. The story is available to subscribers here.

19 comments
valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

IN CAPS FOR THE ELDERLY.....DEFEND THE WEAK.....KNIGHT TEMPLARS....


1.6 BILLION DOLLARS......MISSING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!......AMERICAN TAZPAYERS MONEY........WE HAVE BEEN THROWING MONEY TO VARIOUS FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS........DUH!!!!


WE ARE MONKEYS AND IDIOTS!!!!!


AMERICANS NEED THIS MONEY.....AND OUR GOVERNMENT IS GIVING IT TO FOREIGNERS!!!!!


VALENTINE, COMEDIAN.LOL

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

Where is Sec. Kerry to speak up for our young troops? Why would any of our soldiers deserve to be the last one to die fighting the Taliban? After all the Taliban is NOT our real enemy...

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

The Afghans government in high likelihood does not know that either - the pipeline is long between the givers and the recipients - - - looks into our mirrors...

Bullsgt
Bullsgt

The ability of our government to generously provide money with no strings, no over site, no consciences and then cut programs internally to "save" just amazes, frustrates and saddens me.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

Is anybody really surprised to read this?  The New York Times reported on cash payments by the CIA and Iran back in April of last year. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/world/asia/cia-delivers-cash-to-afghan-leaders-office.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

That 1.6 Billion in foreign aid is missing, in addition to all that other under-the-table money to Karzi, is just par for the course.  If the president of Afghanistan is doing it why shouldn't everyone?  And let's remember, you can't buy Afghan loyalty but you can rent it. 

My prediction is this; once the U.S. leaves and Karzi is left to defend himself against the Taliban he will surrender and leave to exile taking his bags of money with him.  He will betray his nation and leave his people to the mercy of these religious extremists.  My only fear is that we in the U.S. will grant him asylum. 

jmac
jmac

It took long enough for this report.  Maddow was covering the waste years ago.  At least the money's been cut in half and hopefully no money will be forthcoming without Karzai signing the security agreements. 


According to the NY Times we are worried we might "lose air bases for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region."  That seems a reason to stay, and at least the money will be put through the Afghan central bank and separated from each minister's account so we can at least track it better.


Maybe they'll use it to actually teach a few soldiers to read and not just shoot a gun.   This is one big, bad,  uneducated  country.   


Yoshi
Yoshi

Stolen from whom? I would argue it was/is being stolen from the American taxpayer.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

Headline should be Obama has no idea how much US aid is being stolen. As he is often clueless most of the time. Just recently they also found out that the Syrians had only shipped out 4.1% of the 130000 tons of chemical weapons and the deal is already 8 weeks behind schedule. Which makes one wonder can this nincompoop do anything right at all ? Just one ?

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

@ReneDemonteverde  Ask the Republicans oversight committee in Congress????? Where the xxxx have they been????? They are too busy killing poor American people left and right...

jmac
jmac

@ReneDemonteverde  You mean Gates has no idea?   Because it's Gates that writes in his book that Obama didn't trust Karzai. 


Why should he have trusted Karzai?  They were robbing us blind from the beginning.   Just ask Karzai's brother.  

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@RobertNguyen @ReneDemonteverde  Poor American people left and right. Right. By the way on your way here did you bring proof to back up your statement ? Or just a little gremlin just whispered in your ear