Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) has blocked millions of dollars in governmental funds for Afghanistan until the Obama administration answers his questions about a secret CIA program to provide cash to people within the Afghan government, including Afghan president Hamid Karzai, reports Carlo Munez of The Hill.
Last month, Karzai claimed that he regularly receives suitcases full of cash from the U.S. government, and that he has received assurances from the CIA that the money will continue to flow.
Following that revelation, Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, petitioned the Obama administration for clarification and information. He called it “a matter of oversight in U.S. foreign policy operations.” According to his website, he submitted letters on May 2, May 15, and June 13, but has heard nothing.
“I have repeatedly requested briefings and additional information on the nature and effect of this policy,” Corker said in his letter to John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, and Rajiv Shah, who runs U.S. AID.
Karzai has called the CIA money, “an easy source of petty cash.”
The U.S. is likely using the funds to maintain influence with the Afghan president.
Last month, Corker raised the question during a Senate hearing with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. “Do you think that delivering cash to a government that has been around for many many years and is democratically elected aids us in fighting corruption?” He asked. She responded that the subject was more appropriate for a classified setting.
Corker has requested all relevant material, classified and unclassified.
Now, he is taking hostage $75 million that would be used to help finance the Afghan presidential elections slated for April of next year.
“This hold will remain in place until such time as I receive sufficient information on these matters and sufficient assurances that there is a process in place to ensure our policy towards governance in Afghanistan is coherent and supports our national interests,” Corker writes in his letter.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.