The U.S. watchdog in charge of overseeing the billions of dollars the U.S. is spending to rebuild Afghanistan finds an $11 million prison with broken walls, a missing fence and a trail of graft.
Jailbreak: U.S. Paid $11M For Prison With Cracked Walls In Afghanistan
Cracks in the wall of a building at Baghlan Prison. A U.S. watchdog blames poor oversight and corruption for the shoddy construction.Credit: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan
June 11, 2014

Want to know what $11.3 million buys the U.S. taxpayer in Afghanistan?
In one case, a prison complex with no security fence, one ruined building and cracking walls.
Those are the findings of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Congressionally-mandated watchdog with oversight of the roughly $103.2 billion of federal funds spent—so far--on rebuilding Afghanistan. As WhoWhatWhy reported last week, the U.S. government plans to spend $20 billion a year on Afghanistan even after withdrawing combat troops.
Here, we take a closer look at a fraction of that spending through the case of the Baghlan prison, a project under the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
If you haven’t heard of the bureau, it’s the State Department unit responsible for developing American policy to fight international crime and drug syndicates. Afghanistan is responsible for 80 percent of the opiate production in the world, according to the State Department. So the U.S. decided Afghanistan merits a special program to build the tools for an American-style war on drugs there.

The Baghlan prison falls under two of the bureau’s “focus areas”: counter-narcotics and fighting crime and corruption. Afghanistan is short on prison space, and the State Department decided to fix that by developing “a safe, secure, and humane Afghan corrections system.” The prison in Baghlan province, located north of Kabul, is supposed to be part of that solution.
Building prisons in Afghanistan isn’t like building them in Kansas, because of the kind of prisoners and the kind of weapons their friends on the outside have, a fact the State Department noted:

Prisons incarcerated a large number of national security threat inmates and therefore face external security threats.

That translates to a high jailbreak risk. So Baghlan should have been built like an Afghan Alcatraz.
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