Tag Archives: War in Afghanistan

Reality Check: Millions Wasted ‘Rebuilding’ Afghanistan

Seventeen years of wasted taxpayer money and government mismanagement: millions of U.S. dollars spent on projects to rebuild Afghanistan that have not helped the Afghan people.

In some cases, these projects actually put Afghans in danger.

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

A new report shows that the U.S. has spent some $60 million on building totally useless power lines in Afghanistan. The effort, overseen by the army corps of engineers, was intended to help rebuild the country.

As we reported at TruthInMedia.com, the $60 million spent is just part of a $116 million project that was plagued from the start.

Back in 2013, the U.S. army corps of engineers awarded an Afghan company $116 million to design and build phases two and three of the north east power system, or NEPS, in Afghanistan. According to the report, published by SIGAR, or the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the $60 million spent on a power transmission project is, quote, “not operational.”

Not operational, because the contract was poorly written. The afghan government was supposed to buy land in the path of the project, allowing the contractor to build phase. They didn’t, and yet the U.S. army corps of engineers gave the contractor clearances to move ahead with construction.

The result? Power lines built through privately held land, some over residential homes, causing real estate disputes. And there’s more.

The contractor’s approved plans did not include connecting the power transmission project to the power source. The army corps of engineers approved a submittal for a temporary connection, but those plans didn’t match the configuration of the power source. So there’s no way to test, let alone go live, with the project.

If the contractors can’t get the plans right, what about the construction of the project?

Well, according to the report, the project’s power towers foundations are already crumbling. Plus, they were built in loose soil, on embankments that are likely to erode. Near where people live.

So that’s $60 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars wasted on a non-operational project. But this isn’t the first time SIGAR has released troubling reports of government waste.

According to TruthInMedia.com, our government spent $160 million on a failed electronic payment system for the afghan government to collect taxes. SIGAR also identified $93 million spent on “forest” camouflage gear for Afghan troops, when there are very few forests in the country.

The irony here: the USAID published a video in 2011 promoting the NEPS project as a way to create efficiency and reduce cost.

What you need to know is that in the 17 years of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, it’s estimated that our government’s reconstruction effort has cost taxpayers $1 trillion. And the occupation continues.

President Trump authorized a troop surge in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. military there to 14,000. And that’s just military.

So if our government is willing to waste your tax dollars, endanger people halfway across the globe and put our service men and women at risk, to “create efficiency and reduce cost,” what exactly are they doing for us?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that, right now, on Facebook and Twitter.

Feds Reportedly Spent $43 Million Building One Gas Station

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2015– According to a top government watchdog, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) spent $43 million to build a single gas station in Afghanistan that should have cost about $500,000. The top oversight team analyzing U.S. spending in Afghanistan reportedly discovered the amount as part of a larger investigation into allegations of criminal activity within the DOD’s premiere program to kick-start the Afghan economy.

“I have never in my lifetime seen the Department of Defense or any government agency clam up and claim they don’t know anything about a program,” said special inspector general John Sopko, a former federal prosecutor appointed by President Obama in 2012 to keep watch over spending in Afghanistan.

Sopko wants to know who approved the funding and why, but no one appears to want to speak up within the federal government.

“Who’s in charge? Why won’t they talk?” asked Sopko. “We have received more allegations about this program than we have received about any other program in Afghanistan.”

At the center of the controversy is the Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (TFBSO). Although the task force ended in March 2015, the damage has already been done. According to Sopko, the DOD’s failure to answer questions about the $800 million program, as well as its claim the task force’s employees no longer work for the DOD, is of major concern.

In an Oct. 22 letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Sopko asked why no one at the DOD could speak about the $800 million TFBSO program, which had reported directly to Carter.

“Frankly, I find it both shocking and incredible that DOD asserts that it no longer has any knowledge about TFBSO, an $800 million program that reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and only shut down a little over six months ago,” Sopko wrote. “Nevertheless, I intend to continue our inquiry.”

While the DOD maintains no one knows anything, Joseph Catalino, the former head of the TFBSO, is still employed by the Defense Department in a senior role.

“There’s few things in this job that literally make my jaw drop,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a statement to Fox News, “but of all the examples of wasteful projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Pentagon began prior to our wartime contracting reforms, this genuinely shocked me.”

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

War Crimes Probe Urged After US Airstrikes Kill 22 Civilians in Kunduz Hospital

by Jason Ditz

Doctors Without Borders are demanding a full, independent inquiry into Saturday’s incident on the outskirts of the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, in which a US warplane repeatedly attacked a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing 22 people within, including 12 members of staff and 10 civilian patients.

Though Doctors Without Borders informed the US and Afghan governments immediately upon the first strike near the hospital, they reported being repeatedly and precisely targeted by the warplane for over 30 minutes after that, and are saying that the presumption of any investigation should be that a war crime was committed.

The Pentagon insists they are conducting a full investigation themselves. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the situation is “confused,” but that they would hold anyone responsible if the bombing is “something they shouldn’t have done.” He refused to rule out further strikes, saying it was up to Gen. Campbell to do whatever he thinks is appropriate. The hospital has been closed and the workers evacuated.

The Afghan government is claiming attacks on the hospital were “retaliation” and that the site was actually a “Taliban base.” Doctors Without Borders has rejected this claim as absurd, noting they’ve been at that site for some time, and it was well known it was a hospital.

The UN Human Rights Chief also declared the attack “inexcusable,” saying that if it is confirmed that the attack was deliberate it would amount to a war crime. The US has ruled out ever allowing any of their soldiers to be charged with war crimes under any circumstances, and has a law on the books dating back to 2002 allowing a military invasion of the Netherlands to stop the International Criminal Court from carrying out such charges.

Pentagon investigations are rarely particularly credible, and usually end with some sort of blanket excuse and statement of “regret,” and any punitive action tends to be taken against only the lowest ranked personnel possible.

Report: U.S. Military Ordered Troops to Overlook Afghan Allies’ Sexual Abuse

The U.S. military has reportedly been engaging in a policy of ordering its troops not to intervene when U.S.-allied and trained Afghan security forces sexually abuse children. Soldiers who have attempted to intervene in the abuses, some of which have taken place on U.S. bases, have been punished by superiors for disobeying orders.

The New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein wrote, “Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The Army stripped Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn, who has since quit the military, of his command after a 2011 incident in which he allegedly assaulted an Afghan police commander who had admitted to keeping a local boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.

I picked him up and threw him onto the ground. I did this to make sure the message was understood that if he went back to the boy, that it was not going to be tolerated,” said Quinn. He added, “The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights, but we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.

[RELATED: Inspector General Calls US Effort to Rebuild Afghanistan an “Abysmal Failure”]

Army Special Forces Sgt. First Class Charles Martland is also reportedly facing disciplinary action for assisting Quinn in the alleged beating.

The Army contends that Martland and others should have looked the other way (a contention that I believe is nonsense),” said U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for the U.S. command in Afghanistan, told The New York Times, “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law. There would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.

Gregory Buckley Sr., whose son Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. was killed by a 17-year-old boy staying on base with an Afghan police commander, believes his son’s death was a consequence of the U.S. military’s policy of ignoring sexual abuses by allies. He said that, during his last phone call home before he was killed, his son told him, “At night we can hear [the boys] screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it.

My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture,” said Gregory Buckley Sr.

An ex-marine speaking under conditions of anonymity explained the military’s view on the policy to The New York Times. “The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban. It wasn’t to stop molestation,” he said.