By now most have heard of the infamous gas station in Sheberghan, northern Afghanistan which "cost" the U.S. Department of Defense nearly $43 million to build, even though its real cost was only $500,000. This "world's most expensive gas station" has promptly become the latest example of waste and budgetary abuse which comes courtesy of a debt ceiling which is increased by over $1 trillion every year and a government whose only purpose is to spend every dollar budgeted to it or else risk losing future fund allocations.
This was revealed in a report released by John Sopko, head of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a congressional body, which was released yesterday.
However the biggest stunner in the report is not the gas station, which costs almost as much as a luxury New York duplex meant to be sold to Chinese money laundering oligarchs, but something else namely that the task force behind the project had closed operations in March and for that reason the Department of Defense said it did not possess "the personnel expertise to address these questions."
The result: a stunned IG exclaims it is "shocking and incredible that DOD says it has no knowledge about an $800 million program."
Shocking & incredible that DOD says it has no knowledge about an $800 million program https://t.co/SZPqjuznqY— SIGAR (@SIGARHQ) November 2, 2015
Actually, it is perfectly normal and par for the course for any government program to waste funds (and to syphon some off the top and bottom) whenever it is given nearly $1 billion in appropriated funds without any supervision.
Thank you taxpayers.
Sopko concludes by saying that he intend "to continue our inquiry into TFBSO activities to shed additional light on how this program operated, what it achieved, how this enormous amount of money was spent, and whether any conduct by TFBSO staff or contractors was criminal in nature."
He will find nothing, because the corruption captured in just this one instance is endemic to the US, and every other, government across the globe, and if he were to dig deeper he would find a trail of "criminal" money spending that goes to the very top.
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Here is the full letter from John Sopko to Ashton Carter that shows just how "careful" the U.S. government is when abusing your money:
Dear Secretary Carter:
The attached report discusses SIGAR’s review of the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) Downstream Gas Utilization project.
According to a TFBSO study, the Task Force spent nearly $43 million to construct a compressed natural gas (CNG) automobile filling station in the city of Sheberghan, Afghanistan. The main purpose of the project was to demonstrate the commercial viability of CNG for automobiles in Afghanistan as part of a broader effort to take advantage of Afghanistan’s domestic natural gas reserves and reduce the country’s reliance on energy imports.
Although TFBSO achieved its immediate objective of building the CNG filling station, it apparently did so at an exorbitant cost to U.S. taxpayers. In comparison, SIGAR found that a CNG station in Pakistan costs no more than $500,000 to construct. Furthermore, there is no indication that TFBSO considered the feasibility of achieving the station’s broader objectives or considered any of the potentially considerable obstacles to the project’s success before beginning construction.
One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide an explanation for the high cost of the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation, or outcome. In fact, in response to my request for information, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy stated in June 2015 that the March 2015 closure of TFBSO resulted in the Office of the Secretary “no longer possessing the personnel expertise to address these questions or to assess properly the TFBSO information and documentation retained by WHS in the OSD Executive Archive” (see Appendix I).
In written comments on a draft of this report, the Principal Under Secretary of Defense for Policy did not dispute our facts or findings, or provide any new information. Instead, his comments reiterated his earlier position that because TFBSO closed in March 2015, the Department no longer has the expertise to answer any of SIGAR’s questions about this project or about any other TFBSO activities (see Appendix II).
Frankly, I find it both shocking and incredible that DOD asserts that it no longer has any knowledge about TFBSO, an $800 million program that reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and only shut down a little over six months ago. Nevertheless, I intend to continue our inquiry into TFBSO activities to shed additional light on how this program operated, what it achieved, how this enormous amount of money was spent, and whether any conduct by TFBSO staff or contractors was criminal in nature.
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Full letter below (link)