State Department refuses audit of $1B spent in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan

Afghanistan US Spending
In this Nov. 3, 2015 file photo, Afghan Taliban fighters listen to Mullah Mohammed Rasool, the newly-elected leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, in Farah province, Afghanistan. (Uncredited/AP)

State Department refuses audit of $1B spent in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan

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American taxpayers have spent more than $1 billion in Afghanistan since the botched withdrawal, yet the Biden administration is refusing to give an accounting of the funds to a government watchdog.

The State Department says it will not comply with an investigation request by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, to look at reconstruction expenditures that have totaled $146 billion since 2002, the agency’s report to Congress says.

The U.S. Agency for International Development and the Treasury Department “refused to cooperate with SIGAR in any capacity, while the State Department was selective in the information it provided pursuant to SIGAR’s audit and quarterly data requests,” the report reads.

“The State Department and USAID refused to answer nearly all of SIGAR’s quarterly data requests regarding agency-supported programs in Afghanistan this quarter,” the report says. “State and USAID claimed without basis that US programming in Afghanistan is unrelated to reconstruction activities.”

Specifically, SIGAR said it wanted information on the collapse of the Afghan government, risks to the population, U.S. compliance on prohibiting the transfer of funds to the Taliban, and the status of humanitarian programs.

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021 after 20 years of war, leaving behind thousands of allies and American citizens. Thirteen American service members were killed as the Taliban took control of the government.

“We shouldn’t be spending that money, not one dime should be going there,” said retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who headed special operations in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2013. “This is a terrorist government with al Qaeda and ISIS. It’s absolutely wrong.”

During his years serving in Afghanistan, Bolduc, who lost his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire earlier this week, said he saw how U.S. aid was funneled to terrorist organizations once it reached the country.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price defended his agency’s actions to the Washington Free Beacon.

“Our position is that, except for certain specific funds, SIGAR’s statutory mandate is limited to funds available for, quote, ‘the reconstruction of Afghanistan,’” he said. “SIGAR’s current work does not appear to fall under its statutory mandate to oversee the funds for, quote, ‘the reconstruction of Afghanistan.’”

SIGAR, however, says its authority comes from mandates granted by Congress along with the Office of Management and Budget, which states, “It is the President’s expectation that executive departments and agencies will restore and respect the integrity and independence of their respective agency inspectors general (IGs) and work with the Congress to ensure that IG offices can exercise their vital oversight role.”

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Specifically, Section 7 of the Inspector General Act and other legal protections related to whistleblowers allow access to information. State Department employees have been told not to speak to SIGAR without clearance from attorneys, the report said.

So far, SIGAR has completed six audits and found $10,668,026 in questionable costs, the report said.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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