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Monday, December 05, 2022

Afghan aid auditor accuses State, USAID of withholding information

The Congress-mandated watchdog for US aid to Afghanistan is accusing the State Department and the US Agency for International Development of illegally withholding information about the US withdrawal from the country last year and current policy.

What the Biden administration believes is a highly critical report about the US pullout, said John Sopko, Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction, that the State Department and USAID were refusing to cooperate with their employees in violation of the law. . Office built.

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The allegations were made by Sopco’s general counsel in separate letters from Sopco to lawmakers and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and to top lawyers for each agency. The letters were obtained by The Associated Press.

The State Department did not deny that it has cut off cooperation with the Sentinel. But it complained that the special inspector had not given the administration a chance to react to its latest report covering the return issued last month.

The department said the report was falsely negative and did not represent the administration’s view of events surrounding the fall of the Afghan government and the takeover of the Taliban.

In his letters, Sopko was blunt, demanding immediate action from Congress, Blinken and Power to restore cooperation to his office with their agencies in the past.

“I respectfully request that you instruct State and USAID officials to stop their illegal interception of cigar inspections and to provide the requested information and assistance without delay,” he wrote to Blinken & Power.

Sopco said its employees had requested a number of documents and interviews with executives who were involved in the chaotic retreat last July and its aftermath, but were withheld for several months. He said those requests included information about the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan civilians as well as ongoing humanitarian aid and questions whether that aid could be transferred to the Taliban.

“It is now clear that offices and employees that have cooperated with similar requests in the past were silenced or dismissed by authorities in protest of the independent monitoring of cigars,” Sopco wrote.

State Department spokesman Ned Price did not directly respond to the allegations in the letters, but voiced the administration’s unhappiness with the final report, which concluded that the withdrawal was poorly managed and the collapse of the Afghan government and military was correct. had not happened since. Predicted.

“We are of the view that the report does not reflect the consensus view of the State Department or the US government,” Price told reporters. “Many parts of the US government, including the State Department, have unique insights and developments in Afghanistan over the past year that were not recorded in the report and we do not agree with many aspects of the report.”

In addition, Price said the special inspector did not solicit the State Department’s input when drafting the April report and did not give the department an opportunity to review the draft before it was published.

Read more: UN working to provide emergency aid, trauma care to Afghan earthquake victims

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