For those who have followed the situation even somewhat more closely than the average media outlet — which ignored the war in Afghanistan almost entirely after 2002 — there is (sadly) no surprise whenever another pillar of moral justification for the lengthy war and occupation effort collapses or becomes too tenuously thin to make the case anymore.
The twins of propaganda and profligate budget fraud have been skipping hand in hand for years around the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. We have not made the country better and most “evidence” that we did has been fabricated, exaggerated, or erased immediately by local forces we can’t control (including our own political allies).
We don’t want to talk about that because then we would have to admit that thousands of troops died and three-quarters of a trillion dollars were spent over the course of more than a decade…for nothing. Literally nothing. It was a giant, heartbreaking waste.
Now read the details from BuzzFeed News, which sent journalist Azmat Khan and others all over Afghanistan to check just the $1 billion worth of USAID and DOD funded schools alone. And weep.
Here’s a quick summary of the massive report:
The United States trumpets education as one of its shining successes of the war in Afghanistan. But a BuzzFeed News investigation reveals U.S. claims were often outright lies, as the government peddled numbers it knew to be false and touted schools that have never seen a single student.
a BuzzFeed News investigation — the first comprehensive journalistic reckoning, based on visits to schools across the country, internal U.S. and Afghan databases and documents, and more than 150 interviews — has found those claims to be massively exaggerated, riddled with ghost schools, teachers, and students that exist only on paper. The American effort to educate Afghanistan’s children was hollowed out by corruption and by short-term political and military goals that, time and again, took precedence over building a viable school system. And the U.S. government has known for years that it has been peddling hype.
BuzzFeed News exclusively acquired the GPS coordinates and contractor information for every school that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) claims to have refurbished or built since 2002, as well as Department of Defense records of school constructions funded by the U.S. military.
BuzzFeed News spot-checked more than 50 American-funded schools across seven Afghan provinces, most of which were battlefield provinces — the places that mattered most to the U.S. effort to win hearts and minds, and into which America poured immense sums of aid money.
Over the last decade, report after report has chronicled the corruption and waste that squandered taxpayer dollars across many U.S. programs in Afghanistan. But American education efforts — long seen as a shining success — have gone mostly unexamined, a truth acknowledged even by one of the U.S. officials who has investigated corruption in Afghanistan.
The Associated Press has broken yet another story of a mind-blowingly stupid State Department USAID plot to infiltrate Cuba and overthrow the Castro regime, all via a horribly incompetent contractor called “Creative Associates International.” The latest? Trying to infiltrate the country’s underground hip-hop scene to overthrow Castro via angry rap lyrics:
A U.S. agency’s secret infiltration of Cuba’s underground hip-hop groups scene to spark a youth movement against the government was “reckless” and “stupid,” Sen. Patrick Leahy said Thursday after The Associated Press revealed the operation.
On at least six occasions, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program; they also confiscated computer hardware that in some cases contained information that jeopardized Cubans who likely had no idea they were caught up in a clandestine U.S. operation. Still, contractors working for the U.S. Agency for International Development kept putting themselves and their targets at risk, the AP investigation found.
Hip-hop artists who USAID contractors tried to promote either left the country or stopped performing after pressure from the Cuban government, and one of the island’s most popular independent music festivals was taken over after officials linked it to USAID.
“The conduct described suggests an alarming lack of concern for the safety of the Cubans involved, and anyone who knows Cuba could predict it would fail,” said Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee. “USAID never informed Congress about this and should never have been associated with anything so incompetent and reckless. It’s just plain stupid.”
Before this revelation? The AIDS education plot:
Fernando Murillo was typical of the young Latin Americans deployed by a U.S. agency to work undercover in Cuba. He had little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world’s most sophisticated counter-intelligence services.
Their assignment was to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism, which they did under the guise of civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop.
According to internal documents obtained by the AP and interviews in six countries, USAID’s young operatives posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world: An HIV-prevention workshop one called the “perfect excuse” to recruit political activists, according to a report by Murillo’s group. For all the risks, some travelers were paid as little as $5.41 an hour.
As one Republican put it:
“These programs are in desperate need of adult supervision,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona and longtime critic of USAID’s Cuba programs. “If you are using an AIDS workshop as a front for something else, that’s … I don’t know what to say … it’s just wrong.”
Flake has been particularly loud in criticizing these idiotic policies, as I don’t think he particularly cares about hurting the feelings of the militant, aging anti-Castro bloc in Congress.