Thursday, July 21, 2011

Breaking: Karzai blocking probe of missing U.S. $billions in Afghanistan

Jim Kouri

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is blocking efforts by U.S. officials to locate billions of dollars given to aid Afghanistan's economy, stymieing efforts to combat money laundering of drug money, corruption and funding terrorists.
Karzai is prohibiting U.S. Treasury agents from accessing the Afghan government's central bank by allowing and even contributing to “hostile working conditions” for advisers there, according to a new report by the U.S. Inspector General's Office for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

“The United States has poured billions of aid dollars into a country plagued by corruption, insurgency and the narcotics trade,” Inspector General Herbert Richardson told reporters.

Afghanistan must become a “full partner” fighting corruption, he told U.S. news media such as Fox News' national security correspondent Catherine Herridge.

Two months ago, the Law Enforcement Examiner reported on what had been characterized as the largest theft of funds in U.S. history, taxpayers' money earmarked for Iraq had disappeared, according to a Washington, D.C., public-interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse.

In a mind-boggling example of government corruption, billions of dollars flown to Iraq for post-invasion “reconstruction” have vanished and may never be recovered, say officials from Judicial Watch.

Bundled in chunks of $100 bills, the cash was sent from the United States to Iraq in turboprop military cargo planes known as C-130 Hercules. About $2.4 billion fit in each aircraft and 21 flights made trips, transporting a total of $12 billion in American currency to Iraq by 2004

For years federal audits have determined that more than half of that money could not located by auditors, but there seemed to be some hope that some of the funds could be retrieved.

However, this week the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, essentially confirmed that $6.6 billion in cash was likely stolen and may never be recovered.

Bowen referred to it as "the largest theft of funds in national history," in a Los Angeles Times newspaper report that pointed out the missing money is enough to run a major public school district for an entire year.

The L.A. Times story also claims that the mystery is a growing embarrassment to the Pentagon, which has long asserted that it could track the cash if given the time to do it.

This is simply the latest of many reports documenting the pervasive fraud and waste in Iraq reconstruction efforts, which have received more than $100 billion from U.S. taxpayers.

In the last few years Inspector General audits have exposed the sordid details of costly projects that never got completed or are rife with excessive delays and shoddy work.

There are also investigations into bribery and embezzlement cases such as the one reported by the Law Enforcement Examiner in which Major Derrick L. Shoemake, 49, pleaded guilty in June before U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee in the Central District of California to two counts of accepting bribes while serving overseas.  

According to the court document, Major Shoemake served at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait as a contracting officer’s representative in charge of coordinating and accepting delivery of bottled water in support of U.S. troops in Iraq.  
While serving in Kuwait, Shoemake agreed to assist a contractor with his delivery of bottled water.  In return, the contractor paid Shoemake $215,000, most of which was delivered to Shoemake’s designee in Los Angeles.  
Major Shoemake received an additional $35,000 from a second contractor for his perceived influence over the award of bottled water contracts in Afghanistan.   In total, Shoemake admitted receiving approximately $250,000 from these two government contractors in 2005 and 2006.  

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