Our Full Measure cover story today focused on the ongoing problem of waste, fraud and abuse of our tax dollars in Afghanistan.
The scope of the money involves is massive: more than $130 billion.
With Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko unraveling the many problems, it's no surprise that there is steady pressure to dial him back. It comes from the many interests who profit from U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
The following is a transcript from the report followed by a link to the video.
We begin with Afghanistan: our longest war in U.S. history. President Trump recently ordered thousands of US troops to be pulled back from Afghanistan and said he’s thinking about withdrawing entirely. The Afghan War has claimed the lives of thousands of US soldiers and wasted billions of our tax dollars. Our newest assessment comes from John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
When U.S. Inspector General John Sopko is on site in Afghanistan it’s not for sightseeing.
Sopko: But the contract said this should be tile and the walls should be tile and there should be working stoves. Were there any working stoves?
Afghan official: Ever since we inspected, we never found one.
On this day, he’s inspecting yet another building our tax dollars paid for.
Sopko: Was this supposed to be air conditioned?
Afghan official: Yes, sir.
...And wondering where all the money went.
Sopko: See Lieutenant, when we built this building there was supposed to be tile up the walls, there was supposed to be working stoves.
17 years long into America’s War in Afghanistan— one thing is clear: there’s more frustration than progress.
Sopko: But we paid for tile for your government and you didn't get it. It was not installed, okay.
Sharyl: In the Afghanistan conflict going on now, why is it we’re there and what is it we're trying to do?
Sopko: It goes back to the attack of 9/11. And we went in there because of the fact that was a training ground for terrorists who attacked us and later attacked our allies. So we went in to help the Afghans kick the terrorists out as well as developing government that could keep them out. And that's why we've been there for 17 years.
In 2017, President Trump approved the Pentagon’s request to add thousands of soldiers to the 11,000 troops already in Afghanistan. US commanders were given more leeway to strike the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists. Last July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the changes seemed to be effective.
Pompeo: My conclusion from this visit is that the president’s strategy is indeed working. Taliban momentum is slowing.
But four months later, America’s top general— Joseph Dunford—admitted the Taliban are “not losing.” In all, more than 2,400 US soldiers have been killed. The Islamic extremist Taliban remain dominant and spreading. The Afghan government is mired in corruption. And billions of US tax dollars has been lost to waste, fraud and abuse.
Sharyl: How much US tax money has been spent on Afghanistan reconstruction?
Sopko: Reconstruction alone is $132 billion dollars.
Read the rest of the story by clicking the link below: