Corrupt Military, Corrupt Aid Agency

Posted on October 11, 2010

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Does the US lie about everything in Afghanistan? Who knows? They certainly lie enough to make you wonder if anything we hear from the government about that conflict is true. The New York Times reports today that US forces killed the British hostage, Linda Norgrove, that they were sent to rescue from Afghan captors, even though the Pentagon earlier claimed that she had been killed by her abductors.

Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that a British aid worker killed in an American rescue raid in Afghanistan last week may have been killed by a grenade detonated by a United States special forces unit — not by her Taliban captors, as the American command in Afghanistan originally announced.

This can be tossed on the pile of lies emanating from our wars, from Tilman to Lynch and on and on. It’s just easier to disregard the first report you hear from Pentagon sources; just don’t pay any attention to it.

On another note, just what constitutes an “aid” worker these days? Development Alternatives Incorporated, the firm that employed Norgrove, is a private for profit company that earns in excess of 310 million dollars annually off the USAID teat. What do they do? Good question, as USA Today notes:

An inspector general’s audit released May 11 [2009] criticized DAI’s performance on a $164 million contract to promote local governance. Success, the audit found, was “highly questionable” in part because DAI “had no overall strategy” for implementing local projects.

USAID is an organization that operates with calculated political goals, using   development projects to shape the societies, discourse and politics of third world countries. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Barack Obama recently describing the mission of the organization:

The mission of USAID is to advance American interests by strengthening our relationships abroad.

So USAID is not an aid agency; and certainly, for profit contractors that already stand accused of slumbering on a bed of American tax dollars waiting for a strategy to fall in their lap aren’t aid agencies. The Center for Public Integrity reported a typical DAI project in it’s 2002 report on government war contracts:

In one USAID-funded project, DAI helped turn around the Agricultural Bank of Mongolia and make it an attractive investment to a Japanese company that acquired the bank for $6.9 million and retained DAI to serve as bank manager. “

Larry Birch, the DAI exec who wrung that contract for all it was worth, worked for USAID for 12 years before coming to DAI:

Larry Birch, vice president of operations, worked for USAID for nearly 12 years, primarily in Eastern Europe and the successor states of the Soviet Union, before joining DAI. Before his promotion to vice president, Birch worked for two and a half years as DAI’s chief of party for a USAID-funded project in Macedonia which focused on local government reform.

Another taste of this “aid” agency:

In early 2003, DAI came under fire for its conduct in the Philippines. USAID reportedly set aside $41 million from 1998 to 2003 for DAI and a local affiliate called Agile (Accelerating Growth, Investment and Liberalization with Equity) to encourage the Philippine government to adopt various economic reform measures. Among the measures DAI and Agile lobbied for were controversial proposals to open the Philippine air and sea transport industries to foreign companies, to institute higher tariffs and to revamp of government fiscal authority. According to accounts in the Philippine and business media, DAI-Agile paid a public relations firm nearly $100,000 to draft media releases and allegedly had unauthorized and improper contacts with the government, including access to the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s computer system. In all, DAI-Agile successfully pushed the passage of at least a dozen laws.

…The Philippine Senate investigated and, in March 2003, recommended that government agencies which had allowed Agile to set up offices on their premises should “evict Agile personnel and deport executives who were undocumented aliens,” according to media reports.

This is what passes for an aid agency in the highly corrupt world of American foreign policy. That’s not at all surprising considering what passes for our Department of Defense.