An Afghan Surge - In Waste And Corruption

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Welcome to the next exercise in throwing money and guns out of airplanes. The AP reports on an assessment delivered to the Wartime Contracting Commission that says Afghanistan is headed along the same path as Iraq: rampant corruption and waste via mismanagement of tens of billions of dollars in US taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects.

There are 154 open criminal investigations into allegations of bribery, conflicts of interest, defective products, bid rigging and theft in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, said Gimble, the Pentagon's principal deputy inspector general.

...Gimble's office found that a small number of inexperienced civilian or military personnel "were assigned far-reaching responsibilities for an unreasonably large number of contracts."

He cited an account tapped frequently by U.S. military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan to build schools, roads and hospitals. More than $3 billion was spent on these projects, which were not always properly managed.

"In some instances, there appeared to be scant, if any, oversight of the manner in which funds were expended," Gimble said. "Complicating matters further is the fact that payment of bribes and gratuities to government officials is a common business practice in some Southwest Asia nations."

In "Hard Lessons," Bowen said his office found fraud to be less of a problem than persistent inefficiencies and hefty contractor fees that "all contributed to a significant waste of taxpayer dollars."

The most senior American official or officer so far indicted in these investigations has been a Leiurenant Colonel who was one of General Petraeus' closest aides during the period when he was in charge of training and re-arming the Iraqi security forces. During that period, 110,000 assault rifles and other arms, valued on the black market at up to $800 million went missing, partly to turn up in the hands of Kurdish terrorists in Turkey, and Petraeus' aide is believed to be involved in at least some of that trafficking. During the same period, half of the entire Iraqi defense budget for a year was stolen. We already know from previous reports that the Bush administration turned a willing blind eye to much of this corruption and if you believe a Lt.Colonel is as high as the baksheeh rose then you're smoking the good stuff in your hookah.

No wonder the generals are plotting to slow down any Iraq withdrawal while advocating escalation in Afghanistan.

The best line in today's report is this one:

"Before we go pouring more money in, we really need to know what we're trying to accomplish (in Afghanistan)," said Ginger Cruz, deputy special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. "And at what point do you turn off the spigot so you're not pouring money into a black hole?"

When all the right pockets are filled to overflowing, of course.

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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