In Afghanistan, corruption is rife. It is so abundant, in fact, that a senior US lawmaker declared on Monday that she’d be freezing $3.9 billion in Afghan aid dollars until the situation is addressed.
Rep. Nita Lowey’s declaration of principle was made in response to a Wall Street Journal report that claimed over $3 billion has been legally shipped through the airport in Kabul over just the last three years, leading investigators to believe much of it comes from U.S. aid dollars being diverted by corrupt officials.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, making a speech to the House of Representatives on Monday, had a few choice words to describe the situation.
“We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war,” the iconoclastic Democrat opined.
The Journal reported that “the cash Ã¢â‚¬â€œ packed into suitcases, piled into pallets and loaded into airplanes Ã¢â‚¬â€œ is declared and legal to move” through the airport. The paper added: “The officials believe [...] customers who have sent millions of dollars of their money abroad include high-ranking officials and their associates in President Hamid Karzai’s administration, including Vice President Mohammed Fahim, and one of the president’s brothers, Mahmood Karzai, an influential businessman.
“Where they allegedly get the money is one of the questions under investigation.”
Speaking before Congress, Kucinich raised the specter of the $12 billion shipped in pallets from the United States to Iraq just after the Bush administration’s “shock and awe” bombing campaign.
“Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that ‘at least $9 billion’ of the cash had ‘gone missing, unaccounted for,’” he noted. “$9 billion.”
Kucinich continued: “Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Last week, the BBC reported that ‘the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords.’ Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troopsÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ … And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨ Back home, millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions and their retirement security.
“We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war. Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy.”
It’s not the first time Kucinich has lambasted aid funding to Afghanistan. The Congressman declared in a 2009 press release: “U.S. contractors are paying U.S. tax dollars to the Taliban in order to protect the delivery of U.S. shipments of U.S. goods to U.S. soldiers so that our soldiers can fight the Taliban.”
Also, in June 2010, responding to a New York Times story, the Ohio Democrat pondered rhetorically, “Is the U.S. paying for attacks on U.S. troops?”
“Our troops are dying in Afghanistan, and now it turns out we may be funding their killers,” Kucinich said in a statement e-mailed to Raw Story, renewing his longstanding call for a pullout. “Our continued presence in Afghanistan is detrimental to our security.”
At the time, he vowed to bring the report to the “personal attention” of his colleagues in Congress involved with approving aid dollars for Afghanistan.
“The American people are paying to prop up a corrupt government that may be using our money to pay private companies to drum up business by paying the insurgents to attack our troops,” he said.
This video is from C-Span, broadcast June 28, 2010.