Auditor decries stonewalling by Biden administration over $1.1 billion aid to Afghanistan

On October 30, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released a damning report about the Biden administration's aid effort in Afghanistan.

SIGAR is a congressionally created internal watchdog agency established in 2008, conducting audits and inspections of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.  These audits are done for a wide range of programs.  The goal is to measure spending by the U.S. government versus the actual progress on the ground in Afghanistan.

In the interest of transparency and accountability to the taxpaying citizen, it is incumbent on every administration to cooperate with SIGAR and provide any details that SIGAR requires.

SIGAR's recent quarterly report states that "for the first time in its history, [it] is unable this quarter to provide Congress and the American people with a full accounting of this U.S. government spending due to the non-cooperation of several U.S. government agencies."

Since the day of Biden's inauguration, the Harris-Biden administration has consistently breached uncharted territory with its display of incompetence, disregard for the Constitution, contempt for laws and norms, proclivity toward authoritarianism, and disdain for the taxpayer.  

This revelation marks another ignominious and unprecedented low for the U.S., courtesy of the Biden administration.

The SIGAR report also revealed that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which administers the majority of U.S. government spending for Afghanistan, and the Treasury Department refused to cooperate with SIGAR in any capacity.

SIGAR states that the State Department shared high-level funding data but not details of agency-supported programs in Afghanistan with SIGAR's auditors.

Since August 2021, the U.S. has dispatched a whopping $1.1 billion in aid to Afghanistan.  This is occurring at a time when the U.S. is suffering from punishing inflation that has skyrocketed the cost of living.

This astronomical amount comes from the State Department and USAID and is allegedly being spent on "food and cash support, nutrition, healthcare, protection for women and children and agricultural inputs." 

This obfuscation and concealment of vital information are a clear violation of SIGAR's congressional mandate and undermine the American people's interests, the organization claimed in a quarterly report.

So how did USAID and the State Department respond?

Legal counsels of USAID and the State Department claim that SIGAR's jurisdiction does not include such matters is not only contrary to the law but a gross deviation from more than 14 years of precedent set by three prior administrations.

A State Department spokesperson told Politico that SIGAR's mandate applies only to funds dedicated "for the reconstruction of Afghanistan," an initiative that collapsed in August after the U.S. military pulled out of Afghanistan.  The State Department also claims that aid being sent that focuses on alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is beyond the authority of SIGAR. 

SIGAR rejected these claims, noting that "there is little to no substantive difference between assistance referred to as 'reconstruction' and assistance referred to as 'development' or 'humanitarian.'"

Most of the State and USAID programs outlined in this quarterly report are continuations of activities performed prior to August 2021, and State and USAID have not articulated how these programs have changed in practice.

SIGAR's previous 56 quarterly reports have covered "humanitarian and development assistance" programs within the wider umbrella of reconstruction activities. 

SIGAR's report has presented a somber picture of Afghanistan a year after Biden's hasty and unplanned withdrawal from that troubled country.

The Afghan economy contracted by roughly 20% since August 2021, roughly 700,000 jobs were lost, and more than half of Afghanistan's population (24.4 million individuals) are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

SIGAR cited United Nations estimates that more than 3 million girls who previously attended secondary school have been denied their right to access education in the year since the Taliban took power.

The ongoing ban on girls' secondary education may end up costing the Afghan economy up to $5.4 billion in lifetime earnings potential, it warned — not a small number for a economy the size of Afghanistan's, whose GDP on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis currently stands at $70 billion.

SIGAR revealed that the Taliban had reversed years of U.S.-backed efforts to promote human rights and independent news media, programs that cost USAID at least $220 million.

Afghanistan had lost almost 40% of its media outlets and 60% of its journalists due to the Taliban's restrictions and censorship.

What's the overall picture?

Estimates suggest that the U.S. government has spent roughly $2 trillion executing the 20-year military campaign in Afghanistan, which is roughly 7,524 miles away from the U.S.

So what do we make of this troubling revelation regarding Afghanistan?

Since the beginning of the war, the Biden administration dispatched over $60 billion in aid to Ukraine.

A report from CBS News revealed that of the billions in aid that the U.S. dispatches to Ukraine, only 30% of it reaches its intended target.  This is not surprising at all.  A proposal from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to install transparency and accountability measures to the funds being dispatched was summarily rejected in the Democrat-controlled Senate.  CBS deleted its report and tweets linked to the report, perhaps after being scolded by their bosses in the Democrat party.  Inconvenient facts have no place in the Democrat party.

The fact that USAID and the State Department are refusing to cooperate with SIGAR makes it perfectly obvious that something similar is happening in Afghanistan.

So where does this money usually go?

The tenders and contracts are awarded to the cronies of the D.C. Democrat establishment.  Obviously, there is a quid pro quo agreement.  Commissions, brokerages, consulting fees, legal fees, transportation charges, and myriad other charges are also levied.  In the end, some of the funds never leave D.C. while others that leave find their way back to D.C.

This explains why most of D.C. stands together while dispatching billions of taxpayer money to foreign nations.

Even if the aid lands in Afghanistan, it may not always reach its intended targets.  The aid can end up in the hand of terrorists, who may resell it in the black market and use that money to plan attacks on foreign soil.  It also could end up with corrupt government officials, who may use it for personal gain.

If the media were honest, this shameful stonewalling of SIGAR by the Biden administration would have made headlines in every newspaper and would have made it to the top of every news program.

Alas, the corporate media are totally occupied with campaigning for the Democrats for the midterms.  Even if they weren't campaigning, a story such as this that depicts the Democrats in bad light would never be published.

We can all imagine how they would have reacted had this occurred under the Trump administration.

The agencies have also been politicized, so SIGAR's reports will not get any traction.  In fact, the authors of the report may be the recipient of retaliation for releasing such a troubling report a week before the midterms.

The unwillingness of the Biden administration to cooperate with SIGAR must be investigated thoroughly when the GOP takes back the House and the Senate following the midterms.

The guilty must be punished.

Image: U.S. State Department, USAID via via Flickr, CC0 public domain.

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