The U.S. government may accidentally be funneling millions of dollars to the very terrorists and insurgents it's fighting in Afghanistan through sloppy contracting regulations, according to a new government report.
The report, called "Contracting With the Enemy" and published Thursday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), examined the system designed to make sure that the U.S. reconstruction is not providing business for any individuals or groups associated with terrorist or insurgent organizations.
SIGAR said that due to "several weaknesses" in the long and complicated process, "millions of contracting dollars could be diverted to forces seeking to harm U.S. military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan and derail the multi-billion dollar reconstruction effort."
The report centered on what's known as Section 841, part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that describes how the U.S. government is supposed to identify individuals or companies with suspected ties to insurgents, confirm that information, pass it along to the head of the contracting activity, then to the primary contractor and finally to the targeted subcontractors whose business deals would then be voided or restricted based on guidance from higher up.
Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty ImagesU.S. Army soldiers attached to 2nd platoon, C... View Full Size Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty ImagesU.S. Army soldiers attached to 2nd platoon, C troop, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 91st U.S Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team operating under NATO sponsored... View Full Caption U.S. Army soldiers attached to 2nd platoon, C troop, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 91st U.S Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team operating under NATO sponsored International Security Assistance Force protect a wounded comrade from dust and smoke flares after an Improvised Explosive Device blast during a patrol near Baraki Barak base in Logar Province in Afghanistan, Oct. 13, 2012. Close SIGAR said Section 841 was part of a "variety of efforts" undertaken by the government to keep American contracting money out of terrorists' hands in the wake of incidents like the $2.16 billion Host Nation Trucking contract. In that instance, SIGAR said, the U.S. government paid several companies to ship more than 70 percent of food and materiel to American troops in Afghanistan, only to realize that some of those funds were "widely believed to have been funneled to insurgents."