Afghan Funding Is Deja Vu All Over Again

Last month the New York Times reported that the CIA dropped suitcases, packpacks and shopping bags full of money — tens of millions in cash — over a decade in a bid to purchase influence in Afghanistan. The cash instead  helped fuel Afghanistan’s raging corruption epidemic and empowered warloads, the Times says.

President Hamid Karzai said in a December 2008 press conference with President George W. Bush that the “international community wouldn’t leave” before “we have taken from President Bush and the next administration, billions and billiions of more dollars.” Bush replied to Karzai that he better hurry, because he, Bush, wasn’t going to be around much longer.

The revelation about the CIA’s lavish funding of the Karzai administration without accounting controls, brings to mind one of Yogi Berra’s most noted sayings. Berra, quoted often for his malapropisms that have bemused millions, once said: “It is deja vu all over again.”

When after the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, the U.S. Congress approved an aid package to Iraq, totaling about $18 billion, the legislation did not provide for a single additional auditor to account for how the money was distributed and spent. Much as the CIA transferred the Afghan money in suitcases, packpacks and shopping bags, stories began to appear about how the gusher of cash to Iraq was transported and stored. Greenbacks were found stuffed into cabinets, duffel bags and thrown into the backs of pickup trucks. Iraqi subcontractors were hired without adequate controls over their performance, leading to shoddy construction work, which began developing problems soon after a project was completed. Without adequate auditing controls, corruption became a major problem, as in Afghanistan, with U.S. military personnel implicated.

U.S. military officers in the field were even allocated bundles of money, which they could distribute on their own volition to fund local projects which they felt would help buy influence among the Iraqi people. No kind of experience, education nor training in the construction trades was required of these officers.

Since the New York Times article said that the CIA funding occurred over a decade’s time, it means that this is another area where a Barack Obama action emulated that of George W. Bush. It is a case of deja vu all over again.

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