Show Us The Money: $1 Billion Spent In Afghanistan Since 2021

Show Us The Money: $1 Billion Spent In Afghanistan Since 2021

Show Us The Money: $1 Billion Spent In Afghanistan Since 2021

Show us the money. Over $1 billion has been sent to and spent in Afghanistan SINCE the disastrous withdrawal last year that left seven U.S. soldiers dead, many wounded, and Americans left behind. Where has the money gone? The Biden Administration has zipped their lips and is refusing to cooperate.

A new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) notes that the watchdog, for the first time since it was established in 2008, is unable “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.”

Those agencies include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Treasury Department, which “refused to cooperate with SIGAR in any capacity” during the watchdog’s regular audit of reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The State Department, which only shared “high-level funding data but not details of agency-supported programs,” still administers funds there.

“A State official has informed SIGAR that department staff have received internal direction to not engage with or speak to SIGAR without prior clearance from State legal counsel,’ the report states.

Read that again. A U.S. government agency (several in fact) are refusing to comply with a Congressionally mandated watchdog organization. SIGAR was formed in 2008 and has been running compliance and oversight reports since that time. But NOW, after the Afghanistan debacle, while money is being shoveled back into Afghanistan, U.S. agencies won’t cooperate with SIGAR?

This smells. This is the swamp in action, and for what purpose other than playing political games while the money continues to flow unchecked.

After reading the SIGAR report, it’s apparent that the $1 billion funneled into that country thus far, has done nothing for the women and children, the media, and people are still starving.  

The second evaluation, undertaken at the request of Congress, assessed the risks to the Afghan people and civil society organizations resulting from the Taliban’s takeover. SIGAR found that women and girls now face significant risks including reduced access to education and healthcare; loss of empowerment, including the ability to be economically and otherwise independent; and height- ened personal safety and security risks. The media, healthcare, and education sectors also face acute risk under Taliban rule. SIGAR concluded that current conditions are similar to those under the Taliban in the 1990s.

As reported here, the Taliban has literally wiped out over 30 years of gains. Instead, women are back in burkhas, no longer can get a secondary or post-graduate education, and are banned from essentially moving around in public. Furthermore, at least one third of the country is facing starvation. All of which is leading to Afghanistan losing a potential of $4 billion in lifetime earnings and a need for a minimum of $600 million in humanitarian assistance so people hopefully will manage to survive through the winter. 

$1 Billion has been sent to Afghanistan over the last year. Where has it gone? Show us the money. Per Congressional mandate, that is what EVERY agency within the Biden Administration is supposed to do when SIGAR comes knocking on the door. Instead, the door is locked and bolted shut from the inside. 

This has been going on since at least June of 2022. 

But an Oct 11 email, obtained by The Hill indicated USAID and the State Department had both “largely declined” to respond to requests for information following the inspector general’s June notice, a sign of continued resistance to SIGAR’s oversight efforts.

“Unfortunately, since June 22, the level of cooperation and assistance SIGAR has received from State and USAID has only decreased across SIGAR’s entire portfolio,” Robert Lawrence, the watchdog’s director of congressional affairs, wrote to lawmakers.

“State continues to cooperate – in a small number of areas – on a very limited basis; USAID has ceased all cooperation.”

What are they hiding? It’s a fair question and one that should be repeatedly asked with the exception of an actual answer instead of tap dancing around the issue.

Well over $7 billion in U.S. military equipment was summarily abandoned when our military left the country. The Biden Administration nor the DOD had made any plan to get that equipment out prior to the withdrawal. That was unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now.

 Now to find out that USAID, the State Department, Treasury and others are stonewalling and keeping a Congressionally mandated watchdog agency from doing their job? 

When asked about the dispute earlier this month, State Department spokesman Ned Price made clear that U.S officials will block SIGAR’s oversight efforts.

“Our position is that, except for certain specific funds, SIGAR’s statutory mandate is limited to funds available for, quote, ‘the reconstruction of Afghanistan,’” Price said. “SIGAR’s current work does not appear to fall under its statutory mandate to oversee the funds for, quote, ‘the reconstruction of Afghanistan.’”

You know what Ned? Ensuring people don’t starve is part of building a country UP. Ensuring women can receive an education and potentially work if they chose is a key part of reconstruction. So you can just knock off the tap dance and Show Us The Money. 

Feature Photo Credit: Maklay62 on Pixabay, cropped, Pixabay license

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