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Pentagon money pit Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Mariordo Camila Ferreira & Mario Duran / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) and Andrew Magill / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Happening Now: Congress Dissects Waste of Taxpayer Funds in Afghanistan

Spending Watchdog Says Pentagon Program Lacked Focus, Strategy and Leadership


Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko will testify before the Senate today. Here is what he is going to tell lawmakers about a Pentagon money pit.

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Chances are that regular WhoWhatWhy readers will know as much or more as the average member of Congress about the woeful track record of the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO). Behind that boring name is a Pentagon-led initiative that has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan.

WhoWhatWhy covered the incredible $43 million compressed gas filling station a project that no one at the Pentagon now claims know anything about. And we reported on the lavish villas in which officials lived who did something or other with that feckless “Task Force.” But, unlike the rest of the media, we  also spoke at length with John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), who is an expert on waste in high places.

Today, Congress will get its turn to hear directly from Sopko, who is testifying before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. SIGAR has provided WhoWhatWhy with an advance copy of Sopko’s testimony.

Sopko will tell lawmakers that SIGAR found no evidence that the $800 million TFBSO program did what it was supposed to do — to spur economic stability and foreign investments in Afghanistan. Instead, most  of that money has simply been wasted and TFBSO was shut down

According to Sopko’s testimony, nothing went right at TFBSO, which lacked a plan, leadership and the sense to work effectively with other US or Afghan institutions.

The special inspector general will also discuss the stonewalling on the part of the Pentagon, which clamped down instead of helping SIGAR determine what went wrong at TFBSO.

To follow the hearing live, go here.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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