Corker Continues Quest for Answers on Obama Administration’s Rationale for Alleged U.S. Cash Payments to Afghan President Karzai


WASHINGTON – Having not received a response from the Obama administration about the rationale for alleged secret cash payments to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, today sent his third letter to the president demanding a briefing to understand how these payments support U.S. objectives for Afghanistan. Corker further called for “a U.S. policy that is based, fundamentally, on the same values that make our nation great, including the rule of law.”

“As you know, the United States government has long sought, through a number of critically important programs that your administration has implemented, to reduce corruption in Afghanistan and establish the rule of law through a strong and independent judiciary. I am deeply concerned that these alleged cash payments, if they actually happened, undermine these efforts and may indeed enhance corruption in Afghanistan…[E]ven if these alleged payments may gain us some short-term value from a national security or intelligence perspective, they may be severely counterproductive in the long run. Moreover, it appears that the lack of coordination and access to this information, both within the executive branch, as well as in Congress, may contribute to the potentially contradictory and incoherent nature of our policy in Afghanistan and elsewhere,” wrote Corker in his letter to the president.

“Our national interests are ill-served by a U.S. policy that is incoherent. Strong leadership from the White House can help solve this problem. In addition, I hope that you will personally commit to ensuring that appropriate committees, like the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which you served and, in particular its leadership, are kept fully and currently informed of all U.S. government activities that relate to our foreign relations, regardless of the classification of such information...Consistent with this principle, I want to reiterate my request for information regarding the alleged payments to the Karzai government, including a classified briefing, as appropriate.”

Corker made his initial request for answers in a letter to the president on May 2, which was followed by a second letter on May 14 and a direct question of a top administration official who declined to comment publicly on the matter.

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 13, 2013


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write again to request an explanation of the incoherent United States policy in Afghanistan made evident by the claims of cash payments to President Karzai. It is critically important, at a time when the Afghan government may soon be required to provide for its own security, that we ensure that U.S. policies in Afghanistan and the region are well-coordinated and consistent. The allegations made, if true, seem to suggest that the process for making such judgments is, at best, deficient.

As you know, the United States government has long sought—through a number of critically important programs and at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars—to reduce corruption in Afghanistan and establish the rule of law through a strong and independent judiciary. I am deeply concerned that these alleged cash payments undermine these efforts and enhance corruption in Afghanistan.

There is little question today that significant parts of the Afghan government, including its senior leadership, have questionable ties, engage in activities that undermine the trust of the Afghan people in their own government, as well as harm the image of the United States, and perhaps most troublingly, regularly and publicly undermine U.S. policy in Afghanistan and the region.

I am therefore concerned that—even if these alleged payments may have short-term value for the United States from a national security or intelligence perspective—they may be severely counterproductive in the long run.
Moreover, it appears that the lack of coordination and access to this information, both within the Executive Branch, as well as in Congress, may contribute to the potentially contradictory and incoherent nature of our policy in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This lack of coherence, driven in part by a lack of information sharing and access, jeopardizes not only our long term goals in Afghanistan, but may also undermine our national security interests in other regions as well.

It is critical that your Administration ensure that all programs of the United States government, whether overt or otherwise, are all aimed in the same direction. Specifically, with respect to Afghanistan, this means we must have a broad-based policy that seeks to empower the Afghan people, bolster the legitimacy of its government, ensure their ability to protect its citizenry, and prevent terrorists from using the country as a base of operations. This can only be achieved through a U.S. policy that is based, fundamentally on the same values that make our nation great, including the rule of law.

To this end, as you structure a new National Security Council under the leadership of Ambassador Rice, I hope that you will work to ensure that all efforts overseen by your NSC are well structured and consistent, both at a programmatic level as well as in the way they are actually carried out. This should be done in Afghanistan, as well as around the globe. Our national interests are ill-served by an incoherent U.S. policy. Strong leadership from the White House can help solve this problem.

In addition, I hope that you will personally commit to ensuring that appropriate committees, such as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which you served, and in particular its leadership, are kept fully and currently informed of all U.S. government activities that relate to our foreign relations, regardless of the classification of such information. Making sure this happens will ensure that we can partner with the White House to craft a consistent, strong U.S. foreign policy around the world, a goal that you and I share.

Consistent with this principle, I want to request—for the third time—information regarding the alleged payments to the Karzai government and its officials, including a classified briefing, as appropriate.

Please let me know your views on these matters at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Bob Corker

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