Feb 1, 2015
After six years of diligently reporting to taxpayers how $107 billion was being spent on America’s effort to rebuild Afghanistan after a decade of war, the Department of Defense unilaterally decided to classify the numbers in an effort to “appease” Afghans.
U.S. Army General John Campbell, who leads all international and American forces in Afghanistan, sent a memo to the Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) ordering the classification of all future SIGAR reports. General Campbell did not explain why the SIGAR reporting was suddenly considered sensitive. Nonetheless SIGAR will still have access to the information, but will have to add a classified appendix for congressional members to view.
Inspector General, John Sopko said, “the decision leaves SIGAR for the first time in six years unable to publicly report on most of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded efforts to build, train, equip, and sustain the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces).”
The program oversees the $107 billion reconstruction projects for the “Afghan National Security Forces including troop numbers, salaries, training, equipment such as aircraft, and infrastructure projects in its quarterly reports to Congress,” SIGAR said in its latest bulletin.
Military brass contends the release of the information on how $65 billion in military aid is spent could compromise security and give terrorists fighting Afghan forces some sort of edge. But SIGAR asserts the decision will hinder American taxpayers ability to draw informed conclusions about the spending for the 14-year conflict.
In a surprise twist SIGAR took their case to twitter’s 160-character format in an effort to make emphatic points about the U.S. military’s decision to classify information on Afghanistan War expenditures.
Three tweets read: “Amount of money US spent on food for the Afghan Army last year is now classified.” And “Now classified: Cost of US funded contracts to provide literacy training to Afghan Police and Army.” And finally, “Assessment of anticorruption initiatives of Afghan Ministry of Defense and Interior now classified.”
Sopko asked a number of questions in the report to which he received either classified or restricted responses. Sample of questions include:
-Please provide a broad definition of the terms “unavailable” and “present for duty?”
-Total amount of funding that the United States has expended on Afghan National Army food from Afghan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) for the current year?
-How has the $25 million authorized by Congress for women in the Afghan army been used?
-Total amount of funding that the United States has expended on Afghan National Police salaries from ASFF for the current year?
-Please provide details of DOD/NATO-funded contracts to provide literacy training to the ANSF, including: a. the cost of the contract(s) and estimated cost(s) to complete?
-Please offer an assessment of the anticorruption initiatives of Afghan Ministry of Defense and Afghan Ministry of Interior.
-Despite the requirement of Public Law 110-181 that federal agencies provide requested information or assistance to SIGAR, the State Department did not answer any of SIGAR’s questions on economic and social-development this quarter, and failed to respond to SIGAR’s attempts to follow up.
-Update on Afghan budget: $500 million budget shortfall; domestic revenues missed budget targets by 26 percent; Afghan government expenditures increased 11 percent; U.S. gave Afghanistan $100 million to help cover the fiscal gap.
Unfortunately, this latest classification follows a familiar trend in a lack of transparency. Other notable examples of the U.S. government obfuscating or blocking the public’s right to access under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) to information includes the Special Operations Command transferring files from the Osama bin-Laden raid to the CIA where they are basically FOIA-proof. Even the Archivist of the United States objected, calling the transfer a violation of federal law. In an era filled with executive orders and memos, taxpayers are squashed from participating in a national dialogue. Where’s the transparency?
In another attempt to close the books on Afghanistan, the Obama administration released the “Taliban Five” from Guantanamo Bay prison for the release of alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl without adequate notice for public or Congressional comment. Many in the intelligence community as well as members of Congress were apoplectic that they were not notified that a group of men, who they considered as the “worst of the worst” were released to Qatar.
News flash, late last week reports leaked that at least one of the former-jihadist had returned to terrorist activities. But the outcome was predictable, after 14 years of war, thousands of deaths, trillions of dollars, American’s can be assured of one thing- the tribal nation of Afghanistan will return to its roots in the Middle Ages.
U.S. intelligence report predicts failure in Afghanistan (Originally posted January 2014)
A stunning new intelligence report surfaced this week highlighting a dire situation in Afghanistan. According to a Washington Post article, America’s own a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported Afghanistan would quickly fall into chaos if U.S. and NATO forces failed to sign a security deal leaving military troops beyond the 2014 drawdown. The security deal on the table would leave boots on the ground and provide billions more in aid to the impoverished country. But shockingly, the NIE report acknowledged the Taliban would likely take over the country by 2017 EVEN IF the U.S. provides the corrupt country $8 billion per year.
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The NIE, which includes input from 16 intelligence agencies in the U.S., predicted that the Taliban would become more influential as the American military draws down its troops in the region.
The report also added “Afghanistan might fall into chaos if Kabul refuses to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that allows the U.S. forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond the planned 2014 pullout. The assessment comes amid Washington’s pressure on Kabul to sign the controversial security agreement for continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.”
Corroborating the NIE report are 1,000’s of WikiLeaks documents that chronicle U.S. knowledge of the unlimited corruption and a likely return to tribal rule in Afghanistan.
Additional WikiLeaks embassy cables highlight the country’s utter failure to establish a centralized functioning government. One of the key obstacles blocking progress remains the infighting among warring tribal elders. The result of continued incompetence is billions of missing U.S. dollars. Further, the cables demonstrate that once U.S/NATO forces depart chaos will ensue, much like the current sectarian violence in Iraq.
Afghanistan agrees to keep American troops (and money) for 10 more years
The “good” news continues to pile on for war weary Americans. After a highly contentious election to succeed ultra corrupt Afghan President Hamid Karzi, the new power sharing leaders, President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, officially signed a residual troop and status of forces agreement that allows U.S boots to remain on the ground for additional 10 years.
Watch Kimberly’s OANN TV news segment here
The Bilateral Security Agreement allows approximately 9,800 military service members to remain in Afghanistan until 2024. The estimated cost of the overseas contingency operations fund or “war budget” is not subject to congressional budget caps and will cost American taxpayers about $58 billion for fiscal 2015. Plus $5-8 billion in U.S. aid per year will continue to flow into Afghanistan coffers for years to come, according to Inspector General for Afghanistan John Sopko.
“Today we mark an historic day in the U.S.-Afghan partnership that will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan,” President Obama said in a statement. However, and consistent with the President’s grasp of intelligence, he omitted to remark on his own National Intelligence Estimate that projects total Taliban control of Afghanistan by 2017. You may read the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report leaked earlier this year (Story here).
However, despite 14 years of sustained war, many foreign policy experts contend the Taliban is the real power broker and point to intelligence reporting that clearly demonstrates the ravages of war scales tip in favor of the Taliban.
“Of course the Taliban can take the country back,” said James Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the Heritage Foundation.
A senior State Department official was more hopeful the bilateral agreement would work in America’s favor.
“Both the Bilateral Security Agreement and the NATO SOFA provide security to Afghans and are in the long-term best interests of Afghanistan, enabling the country and its citizens to continue to build on the gains made in the past 13 years … I think the inauguration was marked by significant speeches by both President Ghani and CEO Abdullah, laying out, in President Ghani’s case, a broad and ambitious reform agenda. So in terms of the specifics about the BSA, as I think many of you know, it provides our military service members the necessary legal framework to carry out the two critical missions post-2014: targeting the remnants of al-Qaida; and training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces.”
Time will tell… but Afghanistan is timeless.
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