Army Contracts with Companies Tied to al Qaeda, Taliban Not Suspended

SIGAR calls on Army to immediately cut ties to groups

Afghan National Army / AP
July 30, 2013

The U.S. Army continues to reject recommendations from a U.S. oversight official that it suspend government contracts with 43 individuals and companies believed to be "supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al Qaeda," according to a newly issued oversight report.

Forty-three individuals and companies currently on contract with the U.S. government were flagged the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) as "providing material support to the insurgency in Afghanistan."

SIGAR recommended that the Army immediately cut ties to these suspected terrorists, who have ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban, among other extremists.

However, the Army has refused to cut ties with these individuals and companies out of fear of violating "their due process rights," according to a new SIGAR report sent to Congress on Tuesday.

"I would also like to reiterate the concerns I raised in our last report about the Army’s refusal to act on SIGAR’s recommendations to prevent supporters of the insurgency, including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al Qaeda, from receiving government contracts," John Sopko, SIGAR’s lead inspector, wrote in his latest oversight report.

"The Army rejected all 43 cases," Sopko wrote, noting that "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."

Sopko said he is "deeply troubled" by the Army’s declaration and warned that the U.S. is undermining its mission in Afghanistan.

"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," Sopko wrote. "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," Sopko wrote.

SIGAR noted in its report that it provided the Army with "detailed supporting information" about the terrorists who are currently being paid by the United States.

The evidence clearly demonstrated that "these individuals and entities are providing material support to the insurgency in Afghanistan," according to SIGAR.

"In other words, they may be enemies of the United States, but that is not enough to keep them from getting government contracts," SIGAR wrote.

Suspending or debarring these types of entities will ensure that the United States only awards funds to "responsible entities," according to SIGAR.

In addition to the suspected terrorists, SIGAR flagged 14 individuals and 10 companies that were engaged in fraud.

These entities are believed to have cheated the U.S. government out of $5,344,982.

"An additional 18 individuals were referred for suspension or final debarment based on criminal allegations of theft from coalition forces, acceptance of bribes, bulk cash smuggling into the United States, or final criminal convictions in U.S. District Court," according to the report.