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 April 20, 2023

Investigation into Afghanistan aid facing "unprecedented" stonewalling from Biden administration

Inspector General John Sopko's investigation into aid given to Afghanistan faced "unprecedented" stonewalling from President Joe Biden's administration, the Daily Caller reported.  Sopko said this Wednesday at a House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing in an appeal to lawmakers to compel officials to testify. 

The U.S. has been sending billions of dollars to Afghanistan since abruptly pulling American forces out in 2021. The botched withdrawal turned the Middle Eastern country right back over to the Taliban, and the terrorist organization has potentially siphoned off as much as $2 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars.

As the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, Sopko was charged with investigating the matter. However, the Biden administration has been reluctant to comply.

"The lack of cooperation by state – and I’m not talking about the IG’s, I’m talking about the Department of State and to a lesser extent USAID is unprecedented in the nearly 12 years that I have been the SIGAR " Sopko said. "And I must add in the two decades that I did congressional oversight, both in the Senate and the House," he told lawmakers.

"Due to this refusal to fully cooperate, a significant portion of SIGAR’s work, including the two reports – the five reports we did for this committee have been hindered and delayed," he added. "We need your help to stop this obfuscation and delay by the Department of State and to some extent, USAID," Sopko said.

"As I’m sure my fellow inspectors general would agree, we cannot abide a situation in which agencies are allowed to pick and choose what information an IG gets, or who an IG can interview or what an IG may report on. If permitted to continue, it will end SIGAR’s work in Afghanistan," Sopko said.

The inspector general told the committee that the money likely now in Taliban hands was meant for the suffering people of Afghanistan, Fox News reported. That includes aid for agriculture, healthcare, and food, among other necessities, now being directed to the terrorist organization instead.

"I would just say I haven't seen a starving Taliban fighter on TV," Sopko said. "They all seem to be fat, dumb, and happy."

"I see a lot of starving Afghan children on TV. So, I'm wondering where all this funding is going," Sopko pointed out.

In all, the U.S. has sent $8 billion since the withdrawal, and the Taliban is likely taking a cut through fees, taxes, and customs charges. This flies in the face of America's promise against helping fund the terrorist group.

At the same time, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations have also been sending aid that can be used to line Taliban coffers. Reports have already found that NGOs "have not provided information or oversight necessary to make informed decisions about program effectiveness" even as they hand out taxpayer dollars.

A spokesman from the State Department defended the lack of transparency by questioning SIGAR's jurisdiction. The spokesperson claimed the department has responded to several inquiries and plans to cooperate with other oversight entities.

The Biden administration also still maintains that it does not fund the Taliban. However, that claim is difficult to believe, considering how much the group has already benefited from the situation both from a practical standpoint and through its financial schemes to steal aid money.

None of this would have happened if it weren't for the ill-conceived plan to leave Afghanistan with no exit strategy. This entire debacle falls at Biden's feet even as his administration continues to create conditions that help the Taliban.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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