Hillary Clinton blamed in USAID corruption memos; could cause repercussions for 2016

Never shy about spending other people’s money, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned a blind eye to corrupt Afghan ministries getting millions of dollars in U.S. aid.

Internal State Department memos obtained by The Washington Times show the agency waived usual spending restrictions in authorizing the aid, even though the U.S. Agency for International Development identified 26 risks for fraud and abuse.

A November 2012 action memo by the U. S. Agency for International Development, which is overseen by the State Department, revealed that U.S. officials made a “strategic foreign-assistance decision” two years earlier to supply more than half of U.S. monetary aid directly to Afghan ministries known to be rife with corruption, according  to The Times.

A July 2011 audit by the Government Accountability Office also showed that the U.S. government “more than tripled its awards of direct assistance to Afghanistan,” at the same time Clinton was authorizing the waiver, The Times reported.

“It’s absurd to claim that her name being mentioned in this memo is anything but the everyday work of a bureaucracy of which she was the leader,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. Clinton refused The Times’ request for comment.

USAID officials disputed a GAO report that said direct assistance to Afghanistan ballooned from $470 million in 2009 to $1.4 billion in 2010, saying the money was deposited into the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund administered by the World Bank.

Instead, USAID officials said, $770 million had been allotted for direct assistance over 12 years, but only $203 million had been disbursed.

“USAID maintains very strict controls over the funds during every step of the process,” an anonymous USAID official told The Times. “We set up separate bank accounts and monitor the invoices carefully, hiring outside monitors to verify work is performed to our standards.”

Still, confidential 2012 and 2013 USAID memos show that none of the seven Afghan ministries receiving money could be trusted to spend the funds effectively.

At a July 2010 conference in Kabul, Clinton reaffirmed the Obama administration’s policy, saying Washington and its partners were ready to “align our resources behind Afghan goals and Afghan policies,” although there “are no shortcuts to fighting corruption and improving governance,” the Times reported.

Clinton’s lax oversight of taxpayers’ money wasted in Afghanistan may not generate the same outrage as her failure to secure the Benghazi Embassy in 2011, when a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed. But when presidential campaigning begins in earnest, her misguided approval of Afghan aid will give the Republicans another example in showing why she’s not fit for the White House.

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Richard Berkow GET AUTHOR RSS FEED

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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