Senator Corker demands answers regarding alleged CIA payments in Afghanistan

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By: Greg Ellison

Senator Corker continues to plug the flow of monetary aid to Afghanistan.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker claims he is withholding nearly $75 million of U.S. assistance until the Obama administration addresses claims of improper cash payments from the CIA to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

On Monday Corker sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, explaining that his repeated requests for information have been ignored by the White House.

According to Corker the $75 million is earmarked for electoral programs in Afghanistan.

From Corkers perspective the alleged payments highlight a discrepancy in U.S. policy. The goal of uncovering corruption in the Middle East nation seems at odds with money supposedly being funneled to President Karzai.

In the last two months, three written requests for the White House to respond to claims of cash payments have been ignored. This has frustrated Corker, who has placed a hold on the $75 million in funding until he is briefed on the details.

 “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,” he said. “The administration’s lack of 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.”

“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 said in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

The New York Times reported in May, Karzai claimed to have met with the CIA’s station chief in Kabul, and received assurances that the agency would continue delivering stacks of cash to his office. These comments regarding the payments helped fuel the outrage in Washington.

At that time Karzai said the CIA money was a reliable source of funds which could be used in part to pay off clashing warlords. While the U.S. may have used the payments to continue sway with President Karzai, administration critics wonder if it could impede the principal goal of establishing a powerful government held in greater favor than the previous ruling Taliban.