Citizens Earn it, Government Burns it, Creating a Haze
Wasting billions of dollars in taxes is standard operating procedure for the US government. It has spent more on Afghanistan than on the entire Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. Where are these staggering amounts going? In this strikingly candid interview, John Sopko, a former federal prosecutor and currently the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction lets loose an amazing commentary on what he and his inspectors are finding. This is a must-listen. Even the most jaded will be astonished to hear.
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])