This video is called The Corrupt Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Officially, Hamid Karzai is president of Afghanistan; however, he is popularly known as “the mayor of Kabul”. Though there is an official mayor of Kabul: recently convicted for corruption.
Karzai backs accused officials
Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
KABUL – Opening a three-day anti-corruption conference, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, defended the most senior of his officials to be convicted of graft in years.
The President spoke at length about the bribes ordinary Afghans are forced to pay and rebuked officials who “after one or two years work for the government, get rich and buy houses in Dubai.”
However, he also cast doubt on the biggest anticorruption conviction his prosecutors have achieved in years.
Abdul Ahad Sayebi [spelled Sahebi by the BBC] , the Kabul Mayor and a Karzai appointee, was sentenced to four years in prison last week for corruption.
He is now free on bail, pending an appeal, and attended the conference, sitting toward the front.
“One very serious caution I want to say,” Mr. Karzai said.
“The mayor of Kabul has been sentenced to four years jail. I know the mayor. He is a clean person. I know him.”
He said Sayebi had been targeted by enemies for refusing to grant them government land, then gestured to his chief justice and attorney general demanding they look into the case, although he also said Sayebi should still go to jail if guilty.
Mr. Karzai’s standing among the countries that have deployed nearly 110,000 troops to defend his government has plunged since he was re-elected Aug. 20. A UN backed probe found nearly a third of his votes were fake.
Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, will step down from his post at the end of his term in March. Eide has been widely criticised for his overseeing of the highly controversial elections that took place in August that were mired by fraud and alleged corruption: here.
Following new revelations about the criminal character of the German army attack in Kunduz [in Afghanistan], German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has gone on the offensive: here.
Colvin says he was obligated to bring Afghan detainee torture to light
By Juliet O’Neill, Canwest News Service
December 16, 2009 4:02 PM
OTTAWA — Diplomat Richard Colvin accused a senior Foreign Affairs official of misinforming a parliamentary committee and high-ranking defence officers of negligence in a written rebuttal of officials who testified against his allegations about the likely torture of Canadian-transferred detainees in Afghanistan in 2006-07.
Colvin on Wednesday tabled a written response at a special House of Commons committee on the detainees affair to clarify “inaccurate or incomplete” evidence by top officials whose testimony has been cited by Defence Minister Peter MacKay to characterize Colvin — an intelligence officer in Washington who was Canada’s No. 2 diplomat in Afghanistan from 2006-07 — as a lone witness whose allegations “lack credibility.”
Colvin disputed testimony of David Mulroney, his former boss at Foreign Affairs in Ottawa and now Canada’s ambassador to China, who dismissed Colvin’s allegations as “speculation,” denied that his entreaties about torture had been ignored at top levels in Ottawa and told parliamentarians that Canadian reports from Afghanistan were edited only to remove opinion or non-fact based information.
“This is not correct,” Colvin said. “Instead, embassy staffers were told that they should not report information, however accurate, that conflicted with the government’s public messaging.”
He singled out a case of an embassy report to Ottawa that security in Kandahar was deteriorating, after which he said Mulroney sent instructions to the embassy that “we should either not mention the security situation at all, or to assert that it was getting better.” When an embassy official in September 2007, contributed to a NATO security assessment by saying the security situation in Kandahar was deteriorating: “Mr. Mulroney severely rebuked the officer in writing.”
Responding to critics who questioned why Colvin did not personally lodge his concerns about torture with MacKay or military chiefs, he recounted how he worked normally through appropriate official channels, and did not go over his bosses’ heads. At one inter-departmental meeting when he said Canadian detainees should not be transferred to the Afghan security service because they would be tortured, the note-taker stopped taking notes. “I volunteered views to fellow bureaucrats, such as Clerk of the Privy Council Kevin Lynch and DFAIT associate deputy minister David Mulroney,” he wrote. “But to have done so with ministers would have been inappropriate.”
Colvin listed six reports to Ottawa from Canadian officials in Afghanistan in 2006 referring to detainee transfer problems, among them a year-end human rights report from the Canadian Embassy stating that “torture is rife in Afghan jails, as are extrajudicial executions and disappearances.”
He recounted attempts to locate three missing detainees and how “good sources” reported they likely wound up at an Afghan “black site” in Kabul where interrogations took place without any monitoring by human rights officials.
Responding to three generals who testified against Colvin — with former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier dismissing as “ludicrous” the idea that the military would transfer captives into torture — the diplomat said they failed in “their obligation” to be informed by reading reports by Canadians and international bodies distributed within government.
“Our job was to provide input to policy, not to beat senior officials over the head with our reports when they were in our physical vicinity,” Colvin said. The other two military officials who challenged Colvin’s testimony at the committee were retired lieutenant-general Michel Gauthier, who said torture was never mentioned in reports except once, and Maj.-Gen. David Fraser, who testified he was never told about torture and would have done something if he had been.
Colvin fired back at officials who have questioned the credibility of his allegations by suggesting he had naively believed inevitable Taliban claims of torture and asserting he had rarely travelled ‘outside the wire’ — outside the military-protected zone — when he was posted to Afghanistan. Colvin said assertions of torture came from an array of trusted, professional intelligence and human rights sources and he had travelled outside the wire of Kabul 11 times in two months and 500 times outside the wire in Kandahar during his diplomatic term in Afghanistan of 17 months.
“Canadian officials in the field were not alone in warning Ottawa of the substantial risk of torture in Afghan prisons,” Colvin added, citing reports by the U.S. State Department and by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. In addition, officials of the International Security Assistance Force — a NATO coalition of forces in Afghanistan — had registered concerns about Canadian detainee transfer practices at the time.
Opposition MPs reacted by saying Colvin had given them fresh cause to repeat their calls for an independent inquiry into the detainees affair. Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh said his new statement shows “a pattern of deceit and coverup goes high up” in government.
Jack Harris, the New Democratic Party’s defence critic, said Colvin “had systematically shredded” attempts by top ministers and officials to discredit him. “Mr. Colvin is a brave Canadian who risked his life in Afghanistan.”
Harris and Paul Dewar, the NDP Foreign Affairs critic, said it is time for a public inquiry into the affair.
Reviewing how he had been summoned to testify first by the Military Police Complaints Commission and then by the Commons committee, Colvin objected to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon asserting the government has given him whistleblower protection.
“I am not a whistleblower,” Colvin said. “Rather, I am a loyal servant of the Crown who did his job in Afghanistan to the best of his abilities, working through internal and authorized channels.”
Reliance on contractors sparks oversight concerns
* AP foreign, Friday December 18 2009
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) The growing number of contractors in Afghanistan is outpacing the ability to oversee them, raising concerns that the waste and fraud that marred the U.S. mission in Iraq will be repeated, lawmakers said Thursday.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said there are already more than 100,000 Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan and that figure could grow to 160,000 to support the surge of U.S. troops ordered by President Barack Obama earlier this month.
But McCaskill, who heads the Senate contracting oversight subcommittee, said the evidence suggests that the hard lessons learned in Iraq are not being applied in Afghanistan.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency has examined $5.9 billion in Afghanistan troop support contracts and determined that $950 million of the expenses were unreasonable or lacked adequate documentation to support them, according to a memo prepared by McCaskill’s staff and distributed to subcommittee members.
“That’s nearly one of every six dollars,” she said.
There are also too few contract managers and oversight personnel overseeing spending in Afghanistan by the Defense Department and other U.S. agencies, according to the staff memo. The hiring budget for the defense audit agency has remained “relatively stagnant” as spending in Afghanistan increases.
Overall, the Defense and State Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development have spent more than $23 billion on contracts in Afghanistan since 2002, the subcommittee said.
Sen. Paul Kirk, D-Mass., questioned how U.S. taxpayers can be sure their money will be used wisely in Afghanistan, where there is a “culture of corruption.”
Jeffrey Parsons, executive director of the Army Contracting Command, told the subcommittee the command is intensifying the training of contracting officers being sent to Afghanistan so they can more readily identify “bad business practices.”
Parsons also said the Army Criminal Investigation Command is stepping up its presence in Afghanistan.
Daniel Feldman, the State Department’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the department is also boosting the number of financial analysts and contracting personnel to keep closer track of contractor performance.
The U.S. is pressing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to take more aggressive steps to put anti-corruption measures in place, Feldman added.
McCaskill and two other subcommittee members, Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, last week criticized the special inspector general overseeing Afghanistan’s reconstruction for failing to hire enough staff and issuing too few audits and investigative reports.
In a Dec. 8 letter to Obama, they urged the president to review the office’s operations and make any necessary improvements.
Arnold Fields, the special inspector general, defended the office’s record. The organization was established just 18 months ago and in that time he has formed an experienced team that is helping to improve the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, Fields said.
On the Net:
Documents from Senate hearing on Afghanistan oversight: http://mccaskill.senate.gov/newsroom/afghdocs.cfm
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