President Biden faces critical decisions on whether to move forward with a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, in America's longest war. The determination is being made amid the continuing waste of massive amounts of U.S. taxpayer dollars, as flagged in the newest report from the Special Inspector General tracking waste, fraud and abuse.
The Afghan War started in 2001. Since then, well over $130 billion U.S. tax dollars have been spent on Afghan reconstruction.
A new report finds more than $2.4 billion was wasted on properties that were “unused, abandoned, not used for their intended purposes, had deteriorated or were destroyed.” The report is from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, America’s watchdog for waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan.
Of almost $8 billion worth of property targeted for inspection, $2.4 billion dollars’ worth was found to have been squandered. Among the waste:
a cashmere goat farm and laboratory. The pentagon spent $2.3 million building, equipping and training staff for it. The Inspector General says it’s now abandoned with most of the equipment stripped and missing.
Camp Leatherneck, as we reported in 2016, the U.S. spent more than $30 million to construct a 64,000-square-foot military headquarters in Afghanistan — that was never used by the U.S.
Sopko: It's a beautiful building. It was well done. Fully furnished. It was huge: 64,000 approximately square feet.
Nicknamed 64K because of its size, Congress intended it to be headquarters for the 2010 U.S. military surge of 30,000 troops to fight Taliban Islamic extremists.
There was just one problem:
Sopko: The marine commander, the general in the ground running the surge said, 'I don't want it, I don't need it, don't build it.' and two other generals above him said the same thing. 'Don't build it, we don't need it. We already have a headquarters. It's a waste of money.'
To see how the Afghans might be using America’s former Camp Leatherneck today, Sopko’s team did an analysis using mapping technology, finding it was too dangerous for inspectors to go on site. But the Pentagon classified the results.
And there’s also the $57.8 million Kabul hotel. Credit for this boondoggle goes to the overseas private investment corporation, under the U.S. agency for international development. The hotel project was never finished. The U.S. embassy condemned the site and said it couldn't be salvaged.
Sharyl (on-camera): Inspector General Sopko found only around 15% of the billions spent on properties was being used as intended. And of $7.8 billion dollars spent on facilities, 96% of the money went to facilities not being maintained in good condition.