The government’s Afghanistan watchdog reported to lawmakers that he can’t guarantee that billions of dollars in American aid isn’t being funneled to the Taliban.
An independent watchdog founded in 2008 to monitor US spending in Afghanistan currently keeps track of over $8 billion in aid that has been allocated to the country since President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal in 2021.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko reported to the House Oversight Committee, “Unfortunately, as I sit here today, I cannot assure this committee or the American taxpayer we are not currently funding the Taliban.”
“Nor can I assure you that the Taliban are not diverting the money we are sending from the intended recipients, which are the poor Afghan people,” he continued.
He references SIGAR’s 2023 High-Risk List report, released earlier in the day, which documents issues delivering the billions of dollars in US aid to the Afghan people.
“I don’t trust the Taliban as far as you can throw them. And the information we’re getting … is that the Taliban are already diverting funds,” Sopko told the commitee. “I haven’t seen a starving Taliban fighter on TV. They all seem to be fat, dumb and happy. I see a lot of starving Afghan children on TV, so I’m wondering where all this funding is going.”
He also called out the Biden administration’s “failure to cooperate” with SIGAR’s audits and inquiries.
“The lack of cooperation by [the State Department]… and to a lesser extent USAID [the United States Agency for International Development], is unprecedented in the nearly 12 years that I have been the SIGAR,” said Sopko, who was appointed during the Obama administration.
He begged the committee to “stop this obfuscation and delay” since “we cannot abide a situation in which agencies are allowed to pick and choose what information an IG gets or who an IG can interview or what an IG may report on.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre disregarded SIGAR’s criticism.
“The administration has consistently provided updates and information,” she told the media when questioned about his claims.