Monday, May 7, 2012

How U.S. Tax Dollars Fund the Taliban

The system is so routine, there are Taliban business offices in Kabul and Kandahar, where contractors take their U.S.-funded contracts to negotiate percentages with jihadist engineers.

Security firms commonly contract with Afghan insurgents to protect U.S.-funded development projects. The notoriously wasteful 64-mile-long Khost-Gardez road project is expected to cost taxpayers $176 million. Over $43 million went to a security firm, which then hired an insurgent leader who was on the U.S. JPEL "kill or capture" list. They paid the jihadi $160,000 a month to provide security against himself.

The Taliban skims of U.S. taxpayer money are pervasive; ubiquitous. A U.S. contracting officer told me that construction contracts for the wildly expensive Afghan National Army bases in southern Afghanistan only go to contractors with Taliban connections.

The insurgents get their cut on even the smallest, seemingly benign U.S.-funded development projects, such as villager-built check dams. The insurgents shake down the Afghan contractor, and then get another cut when the U.S. development team pays the villagers. U.S. taxpayers even paid for this week's coordinated attacks by the Haqqani network insurgents, who pay for most of their operations with money skimmed from U.S. road contracts.
Similar problems existed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The U.S. had to ship supplies (including fuel) to forward basis over roads controlled by the VC, and wound up paying the VC's road "tax" to do so.

The problem here is not just the fact that we are putting money into the pockets of the Taliban, but, according to the op-ed, that the U.S. troops know it and it is affecting morale.

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