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U.S. watchdog on Afghan spending says he’s pressured to keep quiet

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2013

A watchdog in charge of tracking how taxpayer dollars are spent in Afghanistan accused the U.S. government of trying to keep him quiet so that the White House isn't embarrassed by waste and fraud reports.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for reconstruction in Afghanistan, also said the government has warned him that pointing out the wasteful ways in which the U.S. has spent billions of dollars could prove a public relations nightmare for President Hamid Karzai, too, Politico reported. He made the comments at the New America Foundation on Wednesday, and detailed how "bureaucrats" have demanded he stop with the reports.

Some in government have also decried the fact they can't edit his reports before they're released, he said, Politico reported.

"Since my appointment by the president last summer, I have been surprised to learn how many people both in and out of the government do not understand the role of an independent inspector general," he said, Politico reported.

He said in the past 10 months, he's been targeted by government officials for "talking too much to Congress, for talking too much to the press," and "for not being a 'team player,'" he said, Politico reported. "Many in our government, even some senior officials you think would know better, seem to believe that an inspector general should be their partner — or, more correctly, their silent partner."

He added, Politico reported: "In their opinion, my reports should be slipped in a sealed envelope in the dead of night under the door — never to see the light of day — because those reports could embarrass the administration, embarrass President Karzai, embarrass Afghanistan."

The Pentagon, meanwhile, said it welcomed his watchdog work in Afghanistan.

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