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Taliban, Criminals Get $360 Million from U.S. Taxes

President Hamid Karzai, center, and one of his vice presidents, Ahmed Zia Masoud, right, who was later accused of taking millions out of Afghanistan, pictured in Kabul on July 28, 2004. (Photo credit: Ahmad Masood / Reuters via The New York Times; added to accompanying report)

By Deb Riechmann and Richard Lardner

Aug. 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — After examining hundreds of combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan, the U.S military estimates $360 million in U.S. tax dollars has ended up in the hands of people the American-led coalition has spent nearly a decade battling: the Taliban, criminals and power brokers with ties to both.

The losses underscore the challenges the U.S. and its international partners face in overcoming corruption in Afghanistan. A central part of the Obama administration’s strategy has been to award U.S.-financed contracts to Afghan businesses to help improve quality of life and stoke the country’s economy.

But until a special task force assembled by Gen. David Petraeus began its investigation last year, the coalition had little insight into the connections many Afghan companies and their vast network of subcontractors had with insurgents and criminals — groups military officials call “malign actors.”

In a murky process known as “reverse money laundering,” payments from the U.S. pass through companies hired by the military for transportation, construction, power projects, fuel and other services to businesses and individuals with ties to the insurgency or criminal networks, according to interviews and task force documents obtained by the AP. …

The conclusions by Task Force 2010 represent the most definitive assessment of how U.S. military spending and aid to Afghanistan has been diverted to the enemy or stolen. …

Overall, the $360 million represents a fraction of the $31 billion in active U.S. contracts that the task force reviewed. But insurgents rely on crude weaponry and require little money to operate. …

Power brokers — a term widely used in Afghanistan — refers to Afghans who leverage their political and business connections to advance their own interests.

Another task force document details the case of a power broker who owned a private security company and was known to supply weapons to the Taliban. The power broker, who is not named in the document, received payments from a contractor doing business with the U.S. Over more than two years, the power broker funneled $8.5 million to the owners of an unlicensed money exchange service used by insurgents, according to the document. …

Full story


Related reports on this site

Image: Aerial view of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai
An aerial view shows the Palm Jumeirah development in Dubai in December 2010. Villas purchased in the development are part of the Afghanistan bank scandal. (Photo credit: Matthias Seifert / Reuters)

Will U.S. Leave Afghanistan a Failed State Ruled by Warlords? (Aug. 8, 2011)

Endless U.S. War Price Tag Hits $4 Trillion (June 29, 2011)

‘Limited Chance of Success’ in Afghanistan (Dec. 15, 2010)

Breathtaking Afghan Corruption (Dec. 2, 2010)


Junger: Tough to make case for defending Afghan government (MSNBC “Morning Joe,” Aug. 15, 2011) — The Taliban is claiming responsibility for an attack on a governor’s security meeting in Afghanistan. Six suicide bombers struck, killing 22 people. Vanity Fair’s Sebastian Junger joins Morning Joe to discuss the war in Afghanistan, why common Afghan citizens don’t like the Taliban and like their government even less. Junger says if the Afghans had a government worth fighting for, they would do the fighting for it. (09:10)



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Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties

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Two Years Ago — August 17, 2009

Two Great Americans

Two years ago today, on August 17, 2009, I recognized two American heroes: U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) who expressed criticism of those comparing Democratic leaders to Nazis in the healthcare debate; and Sgt. Bill Cahir, 40, a journalist who enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age 34 after 9/11 and served two tours of duty in Iraq before being deployed to the war he wanted to fight — Afghanistan — where he was killed on August 13, 2009 by enemy gunfire in Helmand province.


Three Years Ago — August 17, 2008

Campaign Against Michele Bachmann: Day 34

Three years ago today, on August 17, 2008 — the 34th day of my 2008 campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District — I attended the annual St. Francis Xavier Parish Fall Festival in Sartell, Minn.

5 Responses to “U.S. Taxpayers Help Fund Killing of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan”
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