Tuesday 14 May 2013

SIGAR boss says officials tried to intimidate him

US government bureaucrats have tried to intimidate John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, saying his should stop making public his audits revealing waste, corruption and mismanagement of projects to rebuild the country.

Speaking at an event organised by the New America Foundation on 8 May, Sopko also said that some officials have even complained that they cannot edit his reports before they are published.

“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,” said Sopko.

Sopko told the meeting that the Afghan Ministry of Defense may be unable to buy fuel for the Afghan army once US troops leave; he added that the US government could not account for the fuel it provided the army; that it paid for repairs on police vehicles it had not seen for over a year; that police buildings are lying empty and that creative use of ghost employees and desertions mean that the total number of Afghan troops is unclear.

“It is hard to know if the Afghan army and police are ready if we don’t know how many troops are available to fight insurgent forces,” Sopko said.

“Over the last 10 months, I have been criticized by some bureaucrats for not pre-clearing my press releases with them, for not letting them edit the titles of my audits, for talking too much to Congress, for talking too much to the press … and, basically, for not being a ‘team player’ and undermining ‘our country’s mission in Afghanistan,’ ” Sopko said in his speech. He continued:

“Many in our government, even some surprisingly senior officials you think would know better, seem to believe that an inspector general should be their partner — or, more correctly, their silent partner. 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."

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