Investigations conducted over the past two years by Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the Kabul Press have all confirmed that Pentagon, State Department and USAID funds are being provided to and are supporting Taliban efforts to kill American troops. Officials in all three agencies have known about this for years and have made little or no effort to halt the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. tax dollars per year to the enemy. While “treason” is an explosive term, the facts do establish multiple violations of the treason statute:
– Providing aid and comfort to the enemy during wartime violates 18 U.S.C. §2381;
– Knowingly concealing the fact that aid and comfort to the enemy is occurring violates 18 U.S.C. §2382; and
– Willfully making false statements with the intent to interfere with the disclosure or investigation of treason violates 18 U.S.C. §2388.
These sections make no distinction between “directly” and “indirectly” funding the enemy; both are equally criminal. In addition, treason does not require proof of malicious intent. The crime is complete where is an intentional act or omission that gives aid and comfort to the enemy, coupled with knowledge that such is happening. The undisputed facts are that this treason has had deadly impacts on the battlefield and has almost certainly resulted in the killing and maiming of scores of American troops.
This reporter is a former city prosecutor for Los Angeles and a former Air Force military prosecutor. He is confident that he could successfully prosecute hundreds of current and former diplomats, Generals, Admirals political appointees and Justice Department officials for violating one or more of the above provisions, which are all capital offenses.
In 2009, based on credible and stunning allegations that U.S. Government agencies were funding the Taliban, the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs began a year-long investigation. Its final report was entitled “Warlord, Inc.” It estimated that as much as $400 million per year in U.S. taxpayer funds were being indirectly provided to the Taliban through contractors working for the Pentagon, State Department and USAID. This long standing practice was well known by officials in those agencies.
The response by General David Petraeus was to appoint a blue ribbon commission to “investigate” this further (even though there was nothing else to investigate). The commission, called Task Force 2010, was initially headed by an aggressive expert in contracting named Rear Admiral Kathleen Dussault. However, in a matter of weeks she was removed from her position and summarily shipped back to the United States. The indications are that Admiral Dussault was committed to halting the flow of funds to the Taliban, which was not what some senior officials wanted. She was replaced by a junior General with an artillery background, indicating the lack of high-level interest in forming a credible commission. Task Force 2010 then proceeded to plod along for a year and last month it issued its report which admitted that Pentagon contract funds were flowing to the Taliban but downplayed the significance. It stated that the diversion to the Taliban and the warlords was only $360 million and not billions. These (not-credible) conclusions were based on a “selected” review of just some contracts in Afghanistan. For more information see the expose’ “Petraeus Fired Admiral Who Tried to Cut U.S. Funding of Taliban.”
Pentagon, State Department and USAID officials argue that they have no choice but to fund the Taliban. They claim that to halt all the development projects and cancel all the logistics contracts under which money flows to the Taliban would set back the war effort. Their bizarre argument essentially is that:
We cannot cancel any of our contracts that fund of the Taliban because that would hurt our war effort against the Taliban?
This reporter investigated the above contention, found it to be meritless and detailed the solutions in 2009 and 2010 articles. U.S. officials use the same argument to explain their lack of aggressive efforts against the opium trade, which is the second major source of Taliban funding:
We cannot halt the opium trade that funds the Taliban because that would hurt our war effort against the Taliban?
In 2010, this author published a report on the theft of U.S. military equipment in Pakistan and Afghanistan which is being downplayed by the American government and news media. According to Pakistani sources, hundreds of tractor trailer loads are stolen every year. The military equipment includes trucks, armored vehicles, Humvees, night vision goggles, body armor, food, military computers and communications gear. The thefts also include Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) and more importantly IR (infrared) tabs that U.S. troops wear at night to distinguish themselves from the enemy. Some of the stolen items are U.S. Munitions List regulated items, which makes them among the most classified items in the Pentagon’s inventory. The response by the U.S. Government is essentially that it cannot halt the theft and transfer of this military equipment to the Taliban; it is all an inevitable result of this war. Its ridiculous argument is essentially that:
We have no choice but to let the Taliban steal our latest weapons and equipment. If we tried to prevent this it would hurt our war effort against the Taliban.
The response from members of Congress and the American news media to all these absurd U.S. Government statements has been: “Huh - I guess that makes sense.”
The biggest losers in this scandal are the American troops who are dying and being maimed at record levels at the hands of an increasingly well-financed and equipped Taliban. The results can be seen in the August 2011, casualty statistics. It was the deadliest month of the war for American troops.
The irony is that the taxes a fallen soldier had paid to the Obama Administration (which it then transferred to the Taliban) may have actually paid for the bullet that killed that soldier in Afghanistan.
A real mystery here is the silence of the military families. Pentagon scandals began almost a decade ago with inadequate body armor, unarmored Humvees, short-range and jam-prone M-5 rifles, unstable MRAPs, poor concussion protection, high suicide rates, repeated war-zone tours and rapid discharges for anyone whom the military deems to be damaged-goods after returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. The family of Pat Tillman is not the only one that has been lied to about their son’s death. The sons, daughters, husbands and wives of those who have died or been maimed now find that their own government is funding the enemy that targeted their loved ones. The response from these families is to ignore the ethical malaise in Washington, D.C. and pretend that Administration officials are blameless. For some reason they consider it patriotic to remain silent, even in the face of treason. These families do not deserve the brave military members that they have lost.
While the U.S. Department of (Political) Justice has shown no appetite for prosecuting those who have betrayed our troops, and Assistant U.S. Attorney General David S. Kris is more keen to waste his time prosecuting American Muslims who send money overseas to Islamic charities, the hope is that a Special Counsel will be appointed to prosecute those responsible for this treason. The most significant boost to such hopes was the release last week of the final report of the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting. One of its staggering conclusions is that as much as $60 billion in Iraq and Afghan contracts has been wasted, mismanaged or stolen, with an unknown portion ending up in the hands of the Taliban. Such a discovery cannot go unpunished.
Neil Sheehan is the author of a brilliant story about John Paul Vann, one of many heroes of the Vietnam War. It is entitled: “A Bright Shining Lie.” The title came from Vann himself in a 1963 interview as he grew disillusioned with the refusal of the Pentagon to honestly portray the facts about the war to the American people. It is an apt title today in Afghanistan to the treachery of a few which has harmed so many and has been ignored by even more.
For further reading see the November 12, 2009, story in the Huffington Post by Bruce Wilson entitled: “Pentagon Funds Taliban Who Are Killing U.S. Troops.”