(8/16/11) After examining hundreds of combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan, the U.S military estimates $360 million in U.S. tax dollars has ended up in the hands of people the American-led coalition has spent nearly a decade battling: the Taliban, criminals, and power brokers with ties to both.
The losses underscore the challenges the U.S. and its international partners face in overcoming corruption in Afghanistan.
A central part of the Obama administration's strategy has been to award U.S.-financed contracts to Afghan businesses to help improve quality of life and stoke the country's economy.
But until a special task force assembled by Gen. David Petraeus began its investigation last year, the coalition had little visibility into the connections many Afghan companies and their vast network of subcontractors had with insurgents and criminals – groups military officials call "malign actors."
In a murky process known as "reverse money laundering," payments from the U.