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TMFBro (< 20)

How your money is being spent in Afghanistan



December 03, 2009 – Comments (6)

NPR's Melissa Block recently interviewed Inspector General Arnold Fields, whose job it is to make sure the U.S. taxpayer money we're spending on projects in Afghanistan (e.g., schools, military bases) gets to where it's supposed to go. You have to listen to the interview to decide whether you should feel confident that your tax dollars are being well spent. But here's one quick exchange:

BLOCK: You're well aware of the fact that the government in Afghanistan is widely seen as rampantly corrupt. Can you quantify in any sense what percentage of U.S. dollars spent on reconstruction end up not going where they're intended, end up being lost to waste or corruption?

Maj. Gen. FIELDS: Yes. Indications are - certainly there is some waste, fraud and abuse. As an inspector general, we avoid being conclusive on matters on which we have really not done all of the empirical work. And this happens to be one of them. But I have been told, I will tell you this, by members of the government of Afghanistan that from their vantage point, they see only about 25 percent to 30 percent of a dollar actually getting to the initiative or project towards which it was originally intended.

Two points:

1) According to Maj. Gen. Fields, we don't really know.

2) So we rely on the Afghans themselves to tell us, and even they admit that only 25% to 30% of the money gets to where it's intended. 

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 03, 2009 at 12:05 PM, wolfhounds (58.31) wrote:

So what's different about taxpayer money being spent on nothing in Afghanistan and $787 BILLION in so called stimulus spent on not creating one job here? Yes, we can throw arguments all day about whether that money actually helped our economy, but I just look at the unemployment rate for an answer.

Maybe that corruption money is keeping the Afhan unemployment rate down. You know, so they can buy GM cars one day.

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#2) On December 03, 2009 at 12:56 PM, outoffocus (23.81) wrote:

Lack of accountability over taxpayer funds has been a longstanding problem at the Department of Defense. For anyone living in the DC area this should not be a surprise.  The DoD's financials are so bad they cant even get audited financial statements.

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#3) On December 03, 2009 at 7:33 PM, USNHR (29.78) wrote:

Lack of accountability over taxpayer funds has been a longstanding issue.

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#4) On December 03, 2009 at 7:47 PM, Viking70 (< 20) wrote:

Having worked in Afghanistan for the past two years, I can say that I think that 25 - 30% of the money actually going towards its intended use is a fair assessment.  It isn't corruption to the Afghans, it is just the cost of doing business. I don't think that Karzai can fix the corruption or if he even wants to (His brother is reputed to be one of the bigger drug dealers in Afghanistan—at least according to the Afghans; I am sure our State Department wouldn’t admit this.  This corruption will keep Afghanistan a third world country for years—much longer than we want to spend over there.  And if we leave, who really thinks that the Afghan government will be able to stand on its own?  They’ll be so busy robbing the country of the last remaining dollars right before they bail out and turn the country back over to the Taliban or the some other consortium. 

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#5) On December 04, 2009 at 8:19 AM, TheClub55 (< 20) wrote:

No kidding... since goverment (and the military) don't have a profit motive, but rather a power motive the best way to grab power is to amass the largest budget and spend it all so they increase it for the next year.  So, they really don't care where the $$$s are spent so long as the budget increases!



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#6) On December 04, 2009 at 10:48 AM, Rehydrogenated (33.26) wrote:

If you've ever put together a bid to send guys to afghanistan you would see that 25-30% is way too high.

I would say it takes about 5 office workers in the US to support 1 person in afganistan. If you add the fact the company wants to make outsized profit on the deal know...its a warzone and all, the price gets really really high. That's assuming your not comitting fraud. 

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