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Report: US Officials Gave $150 Million to Taliban Backers, Army Ignores Claims
by Ezra Van Auken
Aiding your enemy just got a little more real for US officials and the current Afghan war. Over forty companies working for IT, construction and other industries in Afghanistan have been granted $150 million by the Obama administration. The downfall is that those companies have direct connections to insurgency groups like the Taliban. According to Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko, the money has been allocated to these companies since 2008, with warnings.
Sopko explained, “Dating back to 2008, Sigar has identified more than $150m in reconstruction contracts and sub-contracts that have been awarded to companies known to be providing material support to insurgent and terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.” Addressing Congress in the report, Sopko questioned how it’s possible for the US military to pursue and combat insurgents but fail to stop any loose contracts that are falling into the hands of insurgents. The Pentagon said there was no conclusive evidence.
Besides the Pentagon throwing these claims out the window, the Special Inspector General has disclosed many high-profile warnings and reports, giving a stark realization that companies receiving US money are indeed affiliated with insurgents. Yet to take any action, the Army has still neglected serious allegations by Sopko, raising questions. The law, which denies the Department of Defense the ability to grant or aid contracts to companies affiliated with terrorist groups, does not actually apply to the State Dept. or USAID.
Lawmakers have responded to the assessments by Sopko with a bill that would grant the SIGAR powers to limit and even halt funds being sent to Afghan companies that are sympathizers to the insurgents. “Additionally it establishes new mechanisms to ensure that agencies are swiftly and appropriately adjudicating suspension and debarment cases. This legislation also increases transparency with respect to agencies’ suspension and debarment efforts,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz published in a press statement.
So far, the legislation has gained three other sponsors and has been named the “Afghanistan Suspension and Debarment Reform Act”; sponsors include Representatives Mike Coffman, John Tierney and Jackie Speier. Chaffetz said, “It’s sickening to think that we’ve been giving money to the very people who are killing our brave servicemen and women.” Besides giving Afghan-based companies grants and aid that are actively in bed with the insurgencies fighting US forces, the Obama administration has done much more.
The State Weekly reported in June, “Overall, it seems Karzai’s government was expecting to walk into a peace pact conference and unexpectedly arrived to a banner labeled Taliban building. For Afghanistan’s US-installed government, giving your enemy political power is the last thing on your mind.” Following up on the declaration by US officials that the Afghan government, Taliban and Obama administration would designate time to peace talks, Karzai’s government called out the US for violating agreements.
The move was made by US officials to give the Taliban political power as a way to scale back the opposition and agree upon more grounding actions, many analysts of the Afghan war believe. However, the insurgency has only grown over the spring fighting season, with increased attacks and casualties including one that took place the same week of announced peace talks on a CIA post.