Amid news that 19 U.S. embassies were being shuttered this week, thanks to an alert that Al-Qaida may be mobilizing an attack, comes a report to Congress from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that condemns the U.S. Army for refusing to drop contracts with people and companies that have been linked to the Al-Qaida supply chain.
Special Inspector General John Sopko said in his report that, despite his recommendation that the Army cut ties with at least 43 contractors – “including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda” – the Army refused in every case.
From the report:
…[C]ontract oversight must become a top priority to policy planners or else we will repeat the mistakes of the past and waste taxpayer money.
…The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce.
I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract. I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan. I continue to urge you to change this faulty policy and enforce the rule of common sense in the Army’s suspension and debarment program.
In other words, Sopko has a fundamental problem with the Army going after terrorists while simultaneously propping them up with remunerative contracts for goods and services. So why doesn’t the government?
Fox News reported Monday that Congress has responded to the report by introducing a bill that would restrict U.S. agencies from handing out contracts to companies that support extremists in Afghanistan. The bill also seeks to give the Inspector General the power to suspend such contracts if they fail to meet that requirement.