On Friday, April 26, Sen. Rand Paul issued a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that instances of waste, misuse and theft of U.S. foreign aid be investigated and then made public. During Secretary Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 18, he pledged to investigate any instances of waste and theft of foreign aid. Sen. Paul believes these instances of waste and abuse should be transparent for the American people to judge for themselves whether the benefits of our taxpayer-funded aid is worth the costs.
TEXT OF LETTER:
The Honorable John F. Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
April 26, 2013
Dear Secretary Kerry,
During your testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 18, 2013, you pledged to investigate any instances of waste, misuse, and downright theft of foreign aid that I brought to your attention. I am writing to highlight the fact that there are numerous recorded violations of abuse within our foreign aid programs- foreign military aid, specifically - that are already catalogued by your agency, but are unavailable to the American public because the State Department keeps these details classified. I am asking for you to declassify these details to ensure that the American people have all the information when it comes to how their tax dollars are spent overseas.
Section 3 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) requires the President to report to Congress violations by foreign countries of the conditions of their aid; theft of funds or equipment or the misuse of defense articles would qualify in this regard. If a substantial violation is discovered, that country can be deemed ineligible for further US military aid - although, to my knowledge, this has never actually occurred, even when substantial violations by various countries are regularly and repeatedly uncovered. However, the details of all of these violations remain conveniently classified.
Of additional concern to me is the fact that the State Department has not had an Inspector General in over five years. As you know, the IG position is specifically designed to ferret out wasteful programs and instances of misused or stolen program funds. I understand that the House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent you a letter in February asking you to appoint an Inspector General to the State Department, filling this five year vacancy. However, to date, the position remains unfilled. This does not give me confidence that the State Department is adequately equipped to investigate waste within its own walls, or within the foreign assistance programs it manages.
There is still something more insidious than wasted aid - and that is aid sent to countries that burn our flag, storm our embassies, target our diplomats, and chant "death to America" in the streets. There is simply no compelling moral or political argument to continue to fund countries whose citizens feel the destruction of the United States is in their national interest. I agree with President Obama when he says that our tax dollars should be used for nation building here at home, rather than nation building overseas.
Truly informed judgments about the utility of our foreign aid require its failures to be just as highlighted as its successes. In an Administration that espouses transparency, I would hope that the rampant instances of waste and misuse, particularly ones already catalogued within your own Department, would be made available to the public, and investigated, so that the American people can judge for themselves whether the benefits of our aid are indeed worth the costs.
Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator