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by Joel Brinkley
They're stealing from our people who are trying to help them and killing our soldiers who are trying to train them. And when called on it, they say we are lying.
It's probably no surprise that I'm talking about Afghanistan. But a new U.S. government auditors' report puts glistening new icing on the cake.
What this means in actual fact is that when the
Called on this, Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal dispatched a combative reply back to Washington, calling the report "deeply flawed." He blamed the situation on the contractors and called the original tax-exemption agreements "legally suspect, poorly drafted and ill-suited to the complex reality of 2013." Of course, Zakhilwal did not mention that his government signed those documents without qualm in 2003 -- and hasn't called for their revision since.
He also didn't mention that, on occasion, according to the report, officials from his office show up at aid agencies' offices and demand payment on the spot, offering no documentation or authentication. And some contractors who have declined to pay have been arrested or forbidden to travel to their job sites.
This, just the latest outrage, comes as Afghan military trainees shot and killed three more American servicemen who were training them this month, bringing the total killed over the last five years to 135. Earlier this month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, delivering the keynote address to the
"The Muslim world has seen more radicalism, from Pakistan and Afghanistan all the way today to Mali and Nigeria" since America's war on terror began, Karzai said. Washington "needs to explain itself to the Muslim world."
This came shortly after that Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report showing that Karzai's government has stolen "over
Of course, Karzai said not a word about that. And given that
Certainly the U.S. has made grievous mistakes during the 12 years American forces have fought there -- the longest war in American history. But is there any other nation on earth that would offer such hostile ingratitude for the sacrifices Americans have made on behalf of the Afghan people -- 2,300 Americans killed, close to
American officials hold some of the blame for allowing this thievery to continue year after year. The inspector general found that most government agencies "do not understand Afghanistan tax laws as they relate to contracts they oversee" and as a result "have erroneously reimbursed contractors for taxes levied by the Afghan government."
And some agencies greeted the report's findings with hostility. For example, rather than addressing the problem, the
"The audit extends beyond the scope" of the inspector general's mandate, State opined in response.
Still, the most outrageous response came from Zakhilwal, who claimed that the inspector general "neglected to consult with or seek meaningful input" from his ministry.
Actually, Special Inspector General John Sopko wrote back, auditors met with senior ministry officials twice - and he named them. The auditors repeatedly requested relevant documents.
But "your agency never provided the requested information."
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A Costly Effort in Afghanistan | Current Events in Afghanistan