US Tax Dollars up in Smoke Over Afghanistan

Citizens Earn it, Government Burns it, Creating a Haze

The Special Inspector General and SIGAR staff discussing the status of the Kabul C-27s with members of the US military during a recent inspection trip. Photo credit:  SIGAR PDF

Want to meet a government official who tells the truth — in spades? Then you will definitely want to set aside time to hear of the stunning findings of the top US investigator for spending in Afghanistan.

The biggest problem is not theft, but waste, he says. For example, the $500 million spent on airplanes that no one could fly, and that ultimately had to be scrapped, a process that cost yet more thousands of dollars. Or the gift of soybeans, which the Afghans will not eat and will not grow. Or how about the creation of a navy for Afghanistan — a country that is landlocked?

The biggest source of the problem is the lack of accountability, he says. But that is changing.

“God bless whistleblowers,” says Sopko. “If we didn’t have them, things would be a hundred times worse.” And some of his sources of information would surprise you.

Not all of the money was wasted in Afghanistan, he says. You cannot believe where all the money (from corruption in Afghanistan) has ended up — but a lot of it is here in the United States.”

If anyone can find it, it’s probably John Sopko.

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Related front page panorama photo credit: Approximate loss numbers from podcast, Poppy capsule (David Mansfield / SIGAR PDF), TFBSO logo (USGS.GOV), Abandoned G222 planes (SIGAR PDF), Soybeans (Dan Lemke / Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council / U.S. Department of Agriculture [CC BY 2.0]), Special IG John F. Sopko (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform / SIGAR [PDF])

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6 responses to “US Tax Dollars up in Smoke Over Afghanistan”

  1. Athena says:

    Terrific interview. Thank you for covering this topic and for calling attention to the indispensable role played by Inspectors General.

  2. JohnJoslin says:

    Mr. Sopko does have a handle on a part of the huge mess… but he is too diplomatic to point out that the mountains of war- waste are also an endless pile of revenue for the so-called private sector , the usual corporate bad citizens who are non-stop gorging at the trough , here.

    So, his admonitory asides on the supposedly prim accounting practices dutifully practiced by ‘normal’ corporate America only sound a little naive in the larger context of the U.S. Defense boondoggle economy .

    I’m certainly glad Sopko is noting all the ‘waste’ … but others count same as windfall profits.

  3. andrew1212 says:

    Author Joan Mellon sums up the reason for all the waste in this 1 minute clip:

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4557812/joan-mellon-wars-duration

  4. punkyboy says:

    He says some soldiers have been held accountable, jailed, whatever. But when it comes to a couple of Generals, no such accountability for them. That’s where the problem lies, always has, always will. Find some underling – even better if it’s a female – and throw them under the bus. That’s why Rumsfeld was never held accountable for Abu Ghraib. (Sorry – have forgotten how to spell it, but not forgotten what it stands for.)

  5. JayGoldenBeach says:

    Excellent interview!

    “War is a racket.” – Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC Ret.

    American pro-war advocates are like vampires with an insatiable thirst for war spilled blood and profits.