Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX). (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:47 PM – Sunday, August 13, 2023
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced on this week’s “Fox News Sunday” that he will block U.S. financial aid to Afghanistan unless he receives “assurances” that it will not go to the Taliban.
Shannon Bream, a journalist and host of the Fox segment, said, “There’s a new report out from the special inspector general overseeing Afghanistan reconstruction. The Washington Free Beacon has this headline from the report.”
“They say the administration is giving $2.35 billion to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. So what do you tell American taxpayers about their dollars flowing to that group as you said, that was critical in what happened at Abby Gate and now is clearly, you know, disrespectful is the nicest way that I can say that to women, to girls to religious minorities. Those are U.S. tax dollars.”
McCaul replied to her query, stating, “I’m prepared in my position to put a hold on this funding until we get assurances it is not going right into the hands of the Taliban.”
“They are repressing women. They can’t go out of their homes. They can’t get educated. Women can’t be hired by these NGOs, these charitable organizations in Afghanistan, and we are paying the money. The U.S. taxpayers are funding this. We need some assurance that this is going to go to the right hands and it’s going to help the women in Afghanistan. If the Taliban can’t assure us of that, I think we need to be prepared to cut that funding off as a stick rather than giving them just a carrot,” McCaul continued.
Since the tumultuous departure of American forces in August 2021, the U.S. has contributed more than $8 billion in aid to Afghanistan.
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction and head of the U.S. government watchdog for the war, said in April that the United States may have contributed billions of dollars in taxpayer funds to the Taliban and Afghan terror organizations since the withdrawal of American soldiers, but he admitted that even he does not know the entire magnitude of the situation.
“Unfortunately, as I sit here today, I cannot assure you we are not now funding the Taliban,” special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction, John Sopko, said at a House Oversight Committee hearing. “Nor can I assure you the Taliban are not diverting it from the intended recipients, which are the Afghan people.”
Sopko reportedly has more than 30 years of expertise in oversight and investigations as a prosecutor, congressional counsel, and senior federal government advisor. Individuals in his top leadership team also have substantial expertise in military and foreign policy concerns.
SIGAR, or the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, was established in 2008 to oversee the billions of dollars spent by the United States in the war against the terrorist Taliban group.
Sopko had told legislators that the refusal of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide information to SIGAR, and what he claims is their legal obligation, is making it difficult for the agency to carry out its congressionally mandated oversight role over the aid money still flowing to Afghanistan.
He encouraged Congress to assist SIGAR in obtaining information from the State Department and USAID, which handles civilian foreign aid and is directed by the secretary of state.
However, officials familiar with the process said at the time that the Biden administration asserted that the U.S. is no longer participating in Afghanistan reconstruction and that SIGAR is beyond the inspector general’s authority.
The White House’s oversight spokesman at the time, Ian Sams, accused House Republicans in the past of “hypocritically” criticizing Biden over the pullout while failing to act on the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would provide additional funding and a road to permanent residency for tens of thousands of Afghans residing in the U.S. on temporary status.
“Let’s be very clear: with their politically motivated attacks, these MAGA House Republicans are hoping to distract from their own failure to even agree upon, much less act on, solutions that are desperately needed today to protect the progress the Biden Administration has made to safely evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan at the end of the war,” Sams wrote in the memo.
In the past, Sams worked on Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign and later moved on to being a staffer for Kamala Harris. His LinkedIn profile currently says his position is “Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor and Spokesman for White House Counsel’s Office.”
Photo screenshot via Twitter: a Tweet posted by Sams that has since been deleted.
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