‘It’s John against the world right now’ →

John Sopko, head of oversight for U.S. work in Afghanistan, says major challenges remain →


After 12 years of war, labor abuses rampant on US bases in Afghanistan

A year and a half after President Barack Obama issued an executive order outlawing human trafficking and forced labor on U.S. military bases, a five-month investigation by “Fault Lines” has found compelling evidence that these abuses remain pervasive at U.S. facilities in Afghanistan.

“Fault Lines” traveled to India, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan to trace the journey of a typical migrant worker seeking a job at a U.S. military base. We found Department of Defense subcontractors and their recruiters colluding to profit directly from exorbitant fees charged to job candidates, who are sometimes left with no choice but to work for six to 12 months to recoup those costs.

Over the past decade, the U.S. military has outsourced its overseas base-support responsibilities to private contractors, which have filled the lowest-paying jobs on military bases with third-country nationals, migrant workers who are neither U.S. citizens nor locals. As of January 2014, there were 37,182 third-country nationals working on bases in the U.S. Central Command region, which includes Afghanistan and Iraq — outnumbering both American and local contract workers.

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(via journolist)



As Afghanistan Drawdown Looms, Inspector General Warns Of Graft | Matt Sledge

America’s watchdog for Afghanistan is watching the country slip away.

"Every time I visit, I am told by people that we are succeeding," says John Sopko. "I’m not an expert on war-fighting, but I know I can see less of the country every time I go because of security problems."

Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, is looking ahead to a future where his investigators cannot travel to distant provinces to document waste and corruption. That’s a problem that could have big implications as billions of dollars in aid continue to flow to rebuild the country rated the third-most corrupt in the world by Transparency International, 12 years after the American invasion.

As worrying stories trickle out about the state of the Afghan government and military, U.S. government agencies sending billions to Afghanistan — the State and Defense Departments, and the U.S. Agency for International Development — are eager to show that the money is nevertheless being well-spent.

FULL ARTICLE (Huffington Post)

Photo: Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction/flickr


The Pentagon’s PR War Against SIGAR →

The Pentagon is fighting the government’s own internal watchdog instead of fighting the waste being found in Afghanistan.

“The smoke alarm is going off, but the batteries are rapidly losing power and we don’t seem to have a plan to respond,”

Patrice McDermott, executive director of OpenTheGovernment.org, on the loss of oversight and accountability for U.S. taxpayer-funded reconstruction projects in Afghanistan once most of the troops leave. Read more

Soldiers Killed by Terrorists Backed by US Cash: Senator →

The blue areas are the only places the U.S. will still be able to oversee taxpayer-funded reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan when 2014 rolls around. Outside those blue areas are more than $1 billion worth of projects run by contractors that will have to be overseen by additional contractors. See how this map has changed from 2009 to 2014.

(via Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction)