- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
- Hillary: ‘Dead broke’ comment was ‘inartful,’ but insists it was ‘accurate’
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
U.S. taxpayers pour billions of dollars down the drain in Afghanistan
Problems highlight withdrawal pains for mission
Question of the Day
As U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, one of the unsung victims increasingly is the American taxpayer.
In the latest evidence of costly nation-building gone awry, government investigators found that a U.S.-funded school built for Afghans at the expense of U.S. taxpayers is still incomplete after five years of work, and now needs repairs to fix “a leaking roof, defective electrical wiring, and an improperly sloped terrace roof.”
Plus, investigators for the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction are worried that the structure could collapse altogether, erasing any return on investment.
It’s yet another in a long line of unfinished projects that might not be completed or fixed before the U.S. withdraws all its forces, which is expected in the next year.
Since the beginning of combat operations in 2002, the U.S. has spent close to $100 billion on aid to help rebuild the war-torn nation. But funding has long been plagued by shoddy construction, corruption and poor oversight of contractors. Officials at SIGAR warn that they’re not sure of the exact amount wasted, but that it could be in the tens of billions of dollars.
The situation is expected to get worse. As U.S. personnel withdraw from the country, fewer people will oversee the problems and fix the existing issues, raising the specter that taxpayers could pay billions of dollars for half-finished buildings that sit unused and don’t benefit the Afghanistan people.
The school joins other examples of fiscal abuse on which The Washington Times has reported. In September, SIGAR found $190 million for a health care program could be at risk of being taken by corrupt officials. In April, inspectors said $18.5 million was spent on two hospitals without first consulting the needs of the local population. In February, investigators found that a $7.3 million police station was sitting unused.
Repairing and operating the buildings might not be feasible for the Afghan people once the U.S. starts to withdraw some of its support, the Special Inspector General John Sopko said in an interview last year.
“Sometimes we’re turning over bases, or we’re turning over hospitals, or clinics or whatever, and the cost of maintaining them is going to drive the Afghan government bankrupt,” he said.
The school, located in Balkh province in northern Afghanistan, was part of a $17.1 million endeavor to build educational facilities around the country. But it still isn’t ready to be used, SIGAR said.
“Nearly five years after construction began, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is unable to transfer the facility to Afghan authorities,” the watchdog said in a report released Wednesday.
In addition to problems with the electrical wiring and leaking roof, investigators also found that sewage pipes near water sources weren’t well insulated, raising the risk of contamination. The school also needs a better road to allow students and teachers to get to it.
But investigators were perhaps most concerned about whether the roof and septic system are designed to hold the weight imposed on them, noting that officials cannot assure that the structure “will not collapse at some point in time.”
USAID disagreed that the building is structurally unsound. The Army Corps of Engineers, which built the school, has “rigorous procedures and requirements for the design and construction of its building projects,” the agency said.
That prompted SIGAR to ask for proof of the Army’s evaluation, saying they could find no evidence that the school was stable.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Phillip Swarts is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times, covering fiscal waste, fraud and political ethics. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and previously worked as an investigative reporter for the Washington Guardian. Phillip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Christians flee Mosul after ISIL threat: Convert to Islam or die
- Ex-Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg charged with terrorism
- Chicago shooting spree: 22 people shot in 12 hours
- U.S. bests Iran to advance to the Gold Medal match at the FIVB World League Finals
- Bill Maher blames Hamas for Gaza violence: 'Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?'
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- GOP Senate candidate: Obama needs to visit Central America
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in defamation case
- Rush Limbaugh: 'There is no journalism anymore'
- California's Jerry Brown cites God, 'religious call' to embrace illegals
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world