Let’s get started:
1) We have previously talked about the U.S. effort in Afghanistan and how quite likely there has never been any other situation in the history of the Federal government where so much taxpayer wealth was spent for so little in return. But a recent article by Brian Doherty in the August, 2018 edition of Reason magazine brings us up to date on how very bad our tax dollars were misspent in the country:
- Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR), John Sopko, recently announced that the U.S. taxpayer has spent an amazing $126 BILLION just for reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, i.e. exclusive of military costs, since 2002.
- If you adjust this 17 year effort for inflation, then we have spent more in this one country than what was spent for the entire Marshall plan after World War II.
- And while the Marshall Plan is generally hailed as a huge success for rebuilding Europe after the war, the same cannot be said for Afghanistan reconstruction.
- For example, $43 million was spent for a single single automobile propane gas filling station somewhere in the hinterland of Afghanistan.
- The Pentagon could never explain why such a single station cost so much in Afghanistan but only $500,000 for an identical station in Pakistan.
- And not only were the costs outlandish, there was no propane gas infrastructure to bring propane gas to the station so it was basically useless….for $43 million.
- The Pentagon also spent $500,000 to construct a typical Afghan village that was to be used to train Afghan police and military personnel “to conduct simulated police search and clearance exercises.”
- Unfortunately, poor construction and lack of oversight resulted in shoddy construction and the facility “began to disintegrate.”
- Despite this disaster, the contractor still got paid in full.
- The American taxpayer spent $60 million for what was supposed to be a brand new Marriott hotel in the downtown area of the country’s capital, Kabul.
- But when Senator Rand Paul toured the site he found out how badly this project went: “I walked the halls of this deserted, unfinished shell of a dream,” which had “barren rooms, empty elevator shafts, and no electric power” which “ left the entire site uninhabited and uninhabitable.”
- But it is not just the $60 million that got wasted since the the tall building skeleton is close to the American embassy which makes it an ideal point to launch attacks against the embassy which means that more money has to be spent every day just to secure this disaster from the Taliban and other terrorists.
- According to findings of those auditing the entire effort in the country, “Every day that we distribute money, people squander or steal it, and no one is ever held accountable."
- SIGAR recently found that an effort to bring electricity to the countryside wasted another $60 million since “mismanagement of the contract has resulted in the U.S. government spending almost $60 million on a power-transmission project that is not operational because land acquisition and right of way issues have not been resolved and because there is no contract provision to permanently connect the system to a power source,” i.e. we built a power transmission project that does not connect to any power source that would supply the transmission facility.
- In addition to probably never becoming operational, SIGAR found that three of the 18 power towers were shoddily built and could fall down onto villages along the path of the wires, endangering local villagers.
- U.S. taxpayers paid to build two schools in the country that were constructed so poorly that SUGAR concluded that one of the buildings “may be beyond repair or rehabilitation” and is “located in an area of high seismic activity: SIGAR believes it is likely to collapse in the event of an earthquake…”
- The U.S. government has spent about $8 billion to get rid of opium poppy crops in the country which has resulted in the confiscation of almost half a million tons of opium.
- While that half a million tons sounds impressive, it represents about 5% of the total opium going out of the country in just a single year.
- The Pentagon spent $28 million on camouflage uniforms for Afghanistan that were designed for a woodland environment even though only 2% of Afghanistan could be considered woodland.
- Also, in addition to ordering and paying for camouflage uniforms that are basically useless in the country, the Pentagon “used a proprietary pattern that involved extra fees and had not been shown to be any more effective than standard patterns.”
- Despite spending all of this money on reconstruction, and untold billions of dollars on direct military in country costs, the security of the country is still a disaster with the United Nations reporting that there are on average 65 “security incidents” per day in the country, i.e. despite our best efforts, the country is no more secure, safe, or built up than it was back in 2002 when this whole disaster of an operation was undertaken.
2) We have often reported on how the Obama administration weaponized the IRS to harass, impede, and prevent non-profit organizations that were at odds with Obama’s policies to exercise their First Amendment rights. This is not a disputed fact any more, Lois Lerner and others in the IRS actively blocked Conservative, Tea Party, and Republican groups from attaining tax exempt status to exercise their free speech rights.
But now we find out that it was not just Obama’s Democratic administration that were at fault and violating millions of Americans’ Constitutional rights. According to government records obtained by Judicial Watch:
- A former staff member of REPUBLICAN Senator John McCain urged the IRS to target conservative and Tea Party groups for “financially ruinous audits.”
- These IRS conversations occurred on April 20, 2013 and included McCain staff member, Henry Kerner, and high ranking IRS employees including the infamous Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS exempt organization group.
- During the conversation, Kerner asked Lerner to “audit so many [organizations] that it is financially ruinous.”
- Despite this now documented and real conversation and meeting, Lerner is on record in front of Congress claiming that her blocking of groups tax exempt status were “absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate.”
- But since Obama and his henchman wanted this to happen, Lerner faced no consequences for her illegal and unethical practices of denying Americans their First Amendment rights.
- But it gets worse from a timing perspective since shortly after this meeting, the Treasury inspector general released their report that found, “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status.”
- This criteria included delaying the approval of the applications to the IRS until after the 2012 elections which means that many voices that would have likely opposed Obama’s reelection were blocked by Lerner and her IRS cronies.
That will do it for today’s insanity: still wasting billions in Afghanistan and wasting First Amendment rights in Washington. More insanity to follow.
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