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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Administrator Rajiv Shah - Corker Places Hold on Portion of Afghanistan Funding Until Obama Administration Provides Rationale for Alleged U.S. Cash Payments to Karzai

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

In a fourth letter to the Obama administration seeking a rationale for alleged U.S. cash payments to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, today announced a hold on $75 million in U.S. government funding for Afghanistan "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." The Obama administration has yet to respond to his three previous letters of May 2, May 14 and June 13, requesting an explanation for the secret payments, and a top State Department official declined to comment publicly on the matter when asked by Senator Corker during a hearing.

"As a matter of oversight of U.S. foreign policy operations, I have repeatedly requested briefings and additional information on the nature and effect of this policy, classified and unclassified, as appropriate. The administration's lack of any response to these requests, its apparent decision to flout the Foreign Relations Committee's oversight, and its inability (or unwillingness) to explain such a policy is unacceptable. As a consequence, I have determined that the further commitment of taxpayer funds at this time toward such an incoherent governance strategy would not be in our national interest, and I am placing a formal hold on Congressional Notification 65, relating to USAID programs in Afghanistan. Specifically, the hold pertains to $75 million intended for electoral programs in Afghanistan," wrote Corker in his letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. "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."

President Karzai has publicly acknowledged a meeting in Kabul with the CIA station chief who assured him the payments will continue.

A complete copy of today's letter is included below and in the attached document.

June 17, 2013

Secretary John F. Kerry
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Administrator Rajiv Shah
United States Agency for International Development
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20523

Dear Secretary Kerry and Administrator Shah:

In recent months, I have repeatedly communicated directly to President Obama my concerns regarding alleged cash payments by the U.S. government to President Karzai of Afghanistan. Specifically, I highlighted the incoherence of a policy that at once seeks to root out corruption and establish the rule of law, while at the same time funneling secret cash payments to the president.

As a matter of oversight of U.S. foreign policy operations, I have repeatedly requested briefings and additional information on the nature and effect of this policy, classified and unclassified, as appropriate. The administration's lack of any response to these requests, its apparent decision to flout the Foreign Relations Committee's oversight, and its inability (or unwillingness) to explain such a policy is unacceptable. As a consequence, I have determined that the further commitment of taxpayer funds at this time toward such an incoherent governance strategy would not be in our national interest, and I am placing a formal hold on Congressional Notification 65, relating to USAID programs in Afghanistan. Specifically, the hold pertains to $75 million intended for electoral programs in Afghanistan.

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.

Sincerely,

Senator Bob Corker
Ranking Member

cc: Mr. Tom Donilon, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


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