Biden administration officials are ignoring the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) requests to provide documents related to the collapse of the Afghan government, media reports said on Wednesday.
SIGAR chief John Sopko wrote in the letter that the State Department and USAID have in some cases ignored SIGAR’s communications, did not provide officials for interviews, Politico reported citing SIGAR’s letter to the Secretary of State and USAID administrator.
State Department even refused to permit international travel for the watchdog to conduct an on-the-ground investigation, the report added.
The SIGAR seeks to obtain information related to the fall of the Afghanistan government in August 2021, the transfer of funds to the Taliban and humanitarian programs for the Afghan people, the report said.
“I respectfully request that you direct State and USAID officials to cease their illegal obstruction of SIGAR’s oversight work and to provide the requested information and assistance without delay,” Sopko wrote.
“Historically, State and USAID officials have supported SIGAR’s mission and honoured my office’s requests,” he said. “Inexplicably, this long track record of cooperation seems to have abruptly ended. Agency officials now appear to have adopted a premeditated position of obstruction.”
Meanwhile, the State Department and USAID have argued that SIGAR’s jurisdiction is limited to “reconstruction purposes,” which does not include humanitarian and other development assistance.
Addressing a press briefing on Wednesday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said “State and USAID are committed to assisting SIGAR with its important auditing and oversight role.”
But “we have had concerns about how some of SIGAR’s requests for information relate to their statutory jurisdiction,” the spokesperson said.
Price said SIGAR’s most recent report on the collapse of the Afghan forces “does not reflect the consensus view of the State Department or of the US Government, for that matter.”
“And we don’t concur with many aspects of the report. We refer you to the many statements that the State Department has made over the past year on Afghanistan regarding our assessments,” he added.
The Taliban announced an interim cabinet in the fall of 2021, comprising many members who had been leaders during the Taliban’s 1996 to 2001 period in power and members who were later a part of the Taliban’s leadership council, the Rahbari shura, during the insurgency years.
The United Nations (UN) deemed it a disappointment to those who wanted a more inclusive cabinet with non-Taliban members, past government figures, women, and minority group leaders. (ANI)