Tuesday, January 30
White House Laundering Funds through Afghistain for Covert Attacks on Iran?
Last week (January 26), the Associated Press reported the Bush administration would seek from the Democratically-controlled congress $10.6 billion to help the US-backed Afghani-government fight back resurgent Taliban forces.
Taliban forces, emboldened and rearmed, launched fierce attacks across the country beginning last spring, leading to Afghanistan's bloodiest year since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Crop production for illegal drugs also hit a new high in 2006, and relations worsened between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the fight against global terrorism.
But just a year earlier, the White House was downsizing Afghani funding.
Meanwhile, on January 3,  The Washington Post headline announced: U.S. Cedes Duties in Rebuilding Afghanistan. The US budget will drop from $1b to $600m. The Afghanis will be expected to take on this task themselves (!). There are concerns amongst Afghan officials that America’s priorities are “shifting elsewhere.” Where is “elsewhere”?
The US also recently had to assure Gordon O'Connor, the Canadian Defense Minister, that the rumors he had heard of the Pentagon shifting more troops out of Afghanistan were unfounded.
"My hope is they won't draw any troops away from Afghanistan to reinforce Iraq. . . . That's the only thing I'd think about,"O'Connor told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this month.
But as Bush encounters resistance from Democratic congressional leadership to expanding the war fronts in the Middle East--principally in Iran but also in Iraq--could the inflated funding request for Afghanistan actually aid for American troops rumored covertly fighting in Iran since Spring 2006?
Despite numerous public reports stating that US troops are currently conducting operations within Iran, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) refused to answer repeated questions by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) about US troops in Iran, today at a House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations.
Kucinich, the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee, repeatedly questioned Ambassador Bolton on the effect that US troops operating within Iran will have on diplomatic negotiations already underway, including those at the UN.
Recently, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker magazine that US troops are already operating in Iran. Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner (Ret.) has made similar statements on CNN. In addition, Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism chief, told the Guardian newspaper that special forces are operating within Iran identifying targets and aiding dissident groups.
After all, Afghanistan is the perfect venue for foreign aid funds to go missing. Three days after the AP reported Bush's impending funding request from Congress, the London Telegraph reported that half of Afghani aid routinely is stolen by corrupt officials.
Corrupt police and tribal leaders are stealing vast quantities of reconstruction aid that is intended to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans and turn them away from the Taliban, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
In some cases, all the aid earmarked for an area has ended up in the wrong hands. Defence officials in the United States and Britain estimate that up to half of all aid in Afghanistan is failing to reach the right people.The British paper, however, is disingenuous by overlooking the more serious problem of US contractors' unchecked theft. During his residency in the country, correspondent Stewart Nusbaumer learned most of the money disappeared through a money laundering scheme through "shabby" construction work permitted by U.S. contractors.
Where did the $12 billion that donor countries pumped into Afghanistan for reconstruction go? Where did the dough go?
"The money goes through a system that circles it back to the funding country," Fariba Nava, the Madonna of Afghanistan says in a soft, gravely voice. "If the US donates money to build a dam, it hires an American company to build it. That company takes its profits, its overhead, other expenses and then hires a subcontractor that does the same. What is left for building the dam is minimal so it's usually built below standard. Sometimes," she brushes her long blond hair away from her milky colored face, "money simply disappears, stolen or wasted on imported material."
... In her excellent investigative report, Afghanistan, Inc., Fariba Nava quotes Baz Mohammed Baz, the head of the construction for the Afghanistan education ministry, that Japanese contractors built solid classroom buildings at a cost of only $100,000 while an American contractor charged $274,000 for defective classroom buildings. She documents health clinics, schools, roads and other infrastructure projects with leaky roofs and broken plumbing, uncompleted interiors, sinking pavements. It's a litany of shabby work by American contractors and their subcontractors.
It's not like the White House's "redeployment" of the $10.6 billion for other than its publicly stated purpose would be the first Great Lie it has foisted on America.
We also should count on a substantial amount of those billions disappearing into Afghanistan's primary money laundering market--opium and heroin--a scam some critics argue provides American and British banks with regular infusions of cash.
But, hey, what's a billion or so among friends?
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