Afghanistan Watchdog: Biden Admin ‘Unreasonably Refusing to Provide Information’

John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR), wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and the heads of several congressional committees on Wednesday complaining that the Biden administration abruptly stopped cooperating with his investigations after he issued a report critical of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“It is my duty to report that the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are unreasonably refusing to provide information and assistance requested by SIGAR,” Sopko wrote, citing the relevant laws requiring those agencies to cooperate.

Sopko documented a “repeated and continuing refusal to provide information and assistance requested by my office,” especially on three sensitive matters: the swift collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan after President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of military forces in August 2021, compliance with “laws and regulations prohibiting the transfer of funds to the Taliban,” and humanitarian aid for the Afghan people.

Sopko pointed out that Congress clearly and unambiguously required the State Department and USAID to cooperate with his investigations when his office was established, and three previous administrations have done as Congress directed.

“It is shocking that State and USAID officials are choosing at this particular juncture to violate the law, obstruct SIGAR’s oversight work, and refuse to cooperate with our oversight requests,” he wrote.

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20 Years Ago Today, Pat Tillman Was Killed and Gov’t Covered Up the Truth to His Death to Sell War

Seventh-round NFL draft pick Pat Tillman wasted no time in setting records for tackles on the football field for the Arizona Cardinals. But in the Spring of 2002, after marrying his childhood sweetheart, Tillman walked away from his multi-million-dollar NFL salary and joined the Army with his brother.

Tillman’s departure from the NFL was widely publicized, as was his death on the battlefield of Afghanistan in 2004. The Pentagon, President George W. Bush, and what seemed like all of America, celebrated Tillman’s heroic death. However, Tillman’s death was not heroic by any means. He was shot and killed by his fellow U.S. soldiers. But once the deception about his story was propagandized, little could be done to undo how the military and the White House had capitalized on his death.

In 2006, The Guardian published a story, titled, “The footballer who became a war hero who became a scandal,” in which author Lawrence Donegan revealed the dastardly actions the government took to rewrite Tillman’s history. Donegan described how all was going well for the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror” when Tillman decided to enlist. He wrote:

“For the Bush administration, recently embarked on its ‘war on terror,’ Tillman’s story was an enormous PR boost. Professional athlete eschews fortune for patriotic duty—not even a White House well versed in spinning self-serving propaganda could have dreamed up such a perfect recruitment story. Tillman finished his basic training in time to be sent to Iraq as part of the US invasion force, before he was sent to Afghanistan in early 2004.”

But all that changed in 2004 when it was learned that the Pentagon’s poster boy had been shot and killed. Instead of telling the truth about Tillman’s death, the decision was made to spin a web of lies and deceit. The heartbreaking reality that he had been killed by his fellow platoon members was, evidently, too dangerous for national security—so much so that an invention of a superhero was birthed. The substitution of stories created a mythical hero out of Tillman on the level of G.I. Joe and was immediately used to further the recruiting efforts of what has now become America’s longest war. Donegan writes:

“The Pentagon immediately announced Tillman had died a heroic death while fighting the Taliban. George W Bush, whose own patriotism never stretched to completing his Texas National Guard duty, spoke of Tillman’s ‘ultimate sacrifice for the war on terror’ and offered to record a tribute to be broadcast during a live NFL game. The soldier was awarded a posthumous Silver Star. On April 30 an Army press release described how Tillman was killed while storming enemy positions.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. It would take a full 10 years before a guilt-ridden ex-soldier broke his silence about what he says happened the night Tillman was killed. Steven Elliott told NPR that he and his squad leader, Sgt. Greg Baker, were the ones who opened fire on Tillman’s position.

The platoon had divided into two groups that went in separate directions. After the first group was ambushed by Afghan fighters, the confusion on the battlefield led Elliott and Baker to open up machine gun fire on Tillman’s location and the former NFL football player was killed.

“I remember thinking for just a second or two, but what felt like longer—your perception of time in the midst of a firefight can be distorted—that if he’d fired, and without any other information to indicate a friendly position, that I should also fire,” Elliott said, noting that his squad leader fired first, and then he joined in.

He said he was instructed by his superiors not to discuss the friendly fire incident outside of his unit. The military knew it had a PR problem on its hands but Elliott said he was too naive to believe they would spin it into a web of deception.

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Biden Sends Nearly $1 Billion to Afghanistan Since Taliban Takeover

Over two decades, the United States and its international partners poured billions in humanitarian aid into Afghanistan. Much of that aid went into the pockets of the Taliban.

After Biden’s retreat, the Taliban have consolidated control over Afghanistan. And over all the hungry children, the girls deprived of an education, and all the other sob stories that kept a river of private charity and taxpayer money flowing into a hellhole in which nothing ever got better.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

At an aid conference hosted by the UN, the UK, Germany and the Islamic terror state of Qatar, which backs the Taliban, $2.4 billion was raised for Afghanistan. The hosts had demanded over $4.4 billion, which would have been the largest amount ever raised for any nation.

The Biden administration kicked in another $204 million.

That’s on top of the $782 million in “humanitarian aid” allocated to Afghanistan last year since the Taliban took over. This year, Biden signed an executive order allocating $3.5 billion of the Afghan assets held in the Federal Reserve for the same purpose. But even not counting those funds, Biden has dedicated $986 million to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over.

That’s nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money and nearly $4.5 billion in total funds.

The Biden administration keeps insisting that the money won’t go to the Taliban. That’s as plausible as its previous claims that the Afghan government wouldn’t collapse, that if it did we would be ready, and that all Americans would be evacuated before Kabul fell to the enemy.

There’s no one with less credibility on Afghanistan than a member of the Biden administration.

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CIA ‘used 9/11 suspect as living prop to teach trainee interrogators torture techniques’ – including ‘bouncing his head off a plywood wall and leaving him with brain damage’

US officials at a notorious CIA detention site in Afghanistan used a detainee as a living prop to teach interrogators torture techniques, newly declassified documents reveal, bouncing the man’s head off a wall until he was left with permanent brain damage.

The shocking report, which dates back to 2008 but was unsealed Thursday, details the repeated torture of Ammar al-Baluchi, a current Guantanamo Bay captive and suspect in the 9/11 attacks, at the former CIA ‘black site’ Cobalt, north of Kabul.

Interrogators at the site, known both as Cobalt and ‘the Salt Pit,’ went beyond the CIA’s guidelines in torturing Baluchi, the documents reveal, testing techniques and their effectiveness without the agency’s approval.  

Baluchi is one of five set to face military tribunal for his alleged part in the 9/11 plot, a case that’s been stuck in pre-trial proceedings for more than a decade due to a legal dispute over legal admissibility of testimony gathered from the defendants after they were tortured.        

The redacted report from the CIA inspector’s general details some of the torture wreaked on Baluchi, 44, who, according to the documents, was taken out of Pakistani custody to the site in 2003 ‘extra-legally,’ due to his being under Pakistani jurisdiction at the time and not an immediate terrorist threat.

Baluchi, a Kuwaiti citizen, was then brought to ‘Cobalt’ – a secret torture den referred to by detainees as ‘the dark prison’ or ‘the darkness, a previous 2012 CIA report revealed.

Reports of the site, where prisoners would routinely become so broken that they would voluntarily climb onto waterboards and complaints over hypothermia concerns were rampant, unsealed documents have revealed, first surfaced in 2005.

The recently unsealed report, declassified as part of a court filing by Baluchi’s lawyers to get him an independent medical examination, described how for years interrogators at the site used Baluchi’s body as a living doll for unapproved torture techniques that left the still imprisoned man brain-damaged. 

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Biden’s Multi-Billion Afghan Theft Gets Scant Mention on TV News

Two months ago (FAIR.org12/21/21), I noted the striking contrast between vocal media outrage—ostensibly grounded in concern for Afghan people—over President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, and the relative silence over the growing humanitarian crisis in that country, which threatens millions with life-threatening levels of famine.

While influenced by drought and Taliban policies, the current crisis is primarily driven by the US decisions to freeze the assets of the country’s central bank and maintain economic sanctions, which have destabilized the banking system and sent the economy into a tailspin.

Last Friday, Biden announced his intention to take the $7 billion in frozen funds currently held in US banks and use them as he sees fit, giving half to a humanitarian aid trust fund for Afghans and half to families of 9/11 victims.

Lest anyone imagine this to be generous in any way, note that the $7 billion—most of which originated as international aid, and representing the vast majority of the central bank’s assets—belongs to the Afghan people, not to Biden. And the Afghan people bear zero responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. On the contrary, they are also its victims, because of the subsequent US decision to invade and occupy their country.

Beyond that, giving them back half of the money that is rightfully theirs in the form of “aid”—instead of returning it to the banking system—is not only a band-aid that doesn’t solve the country’s liquidity problem, it’s nearly impossible to do anyway, given the sanctions still in place (Relief Web, 2/12/21).

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