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Friday, May 20, 2022

Ernst condemns Biden’s allocation of US tax dollars to help the Taliban fight endangered species

Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) says President Joe Biden is exacerbating the tragedy of US blunders in Afghanistan by approving unspecified amounts of US foreign aid for “endangered species” programs through the Taliban and Haqqani terror networks that now control the war. – torn country.

“Following the order for a hasty and disastrous retreat from Afghanistan last August, the Biden administration has now authorized the flow of American taxpayer dollars back into the country through the Taliban and the Haqqani Islamic terrorist network,” Ernst said in a January 25 statement.

“Among the activities that these tax dollars are intended to support are the ‘conservation and protection of endangered species’, including four plants, a salamander and one insect in Afghanistan,” Ernst said.

“There is no doubt that the people of Afghanistan are suffering terribly from widespread hunger and human rights violations and are in desperate need of help. But the Biden administration did not provide safeguards to keep this new US aid from falling into the hands of terrorists, just as when billions of dollars worth of weapons and supplies were handed over to the Taliban after Biden’s poorly planned and mismanaged exit. ”

Biden’s permits were issued by the US Treasury Department. A White House spokesman did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment. The permits do not mention dollar amounts.

However, earlier this month, White House National Security Council (NSC) spokeswoman Emily Horne said the permits would include $308 million to be distributed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through independent humanitarian groups. Such groups operating in Afghanistan must do so with the approval of the Taliban-dominated government.

The new assistance is to include “protection and shelter, basic health services, winterization assistance, emergency food assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene services in response to growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and lack of medical services, drought, malnutrition and winter season,” Horne said.

“In addition, the United States is providing the people of Afghanistan with one million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX, bringing the total number of doses to 4.3 million doses.”

It is noteworthy that in Horn’s statement there was no mention of assistance to the activities of endangered species. Ernst pointed to a 2009 media report of Afghanistan’s first listing of endangered species, including “snow leopards, wolves, and brown bears, as well as lesser-known species such as the Pagman salamander, goitered gazelle, and Himalayan elm,” as well as an unnamed insect. .

Horn said the latest permits have increased the total amount of US humanitarian aid provided to Afghanistan since the withdrawal of US troops in August to $782 million from October 2021. , rifles and firearms, artillery, night vision devices, uniforms and sophisticated electronic equipment.

American aid to Afghanistan has long been criticized for the country’s historic corruption and massive influx of US dollars, with little accountability for who received it and how it was spent.

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko said in an Aug. 16, 2021 report titled “What We Need to Learn” from a 20-year U.S. effort that the costly program has failed.

“The effective reconstruction of Afghanistan required a detailed understanding of the social, economic and political dynamics of the country. However, US officials constantly acted in the dark, often due to the difficulty of gathering the necessary information,” Sopko said.

“The US government has also been clumsily imposing Western technocratic models on Afghan economic institutions; trained security forces in advanced weapon systems they couldn’t understand, let alone maintain; established the formal rule of law in a country that resolved 80 to 90 percent of its disputes through informal means; and often struggled to understand or alleviate cultural and social barriers to supporting women and girls.

“Lacking this background knowledge, U.S. officials often empowered powerful individuals who preyed on the populace or diverted U.S. aid from its intended recipients to enrich and empower themselves and their allies. The lack of knowledge at the local level meant that projects aimed at mitigating the effects of the conflict often exacerbated it and even inadvertently funded the insurgents.”

Ernst said she’s awarding her latest “Squeal Award” to the Biden administration “whose carelessness puts taxpayer dollars back into the hands of terrorists in Afghanistan.”

The Iowa Republican also joined a group of 16 GOP senators in a January 16 letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen asking for a full account of all U.S. financial assistance to Afghanistan since August 2021.

Biden’s clearances raised concerns with Rep. Michael McCall (R-Tex.), a senior Republican member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, who told The Epoch Times Jan. 26 that the administration claims the actions are based on commonly used language. US officials dealing with crisis situations abroad.

“The administration will tell you that they have chosen this language because it is the OFAC ‘standard’. [Office of Foreign Assets Control] the language of licensing used in other similar contexts of the crisis,” he said. “But the situation in Afghanistan is unique and has a long, harrowing history of foreign aid oversight problems. Failure to acknowledge this raises even more concerns about how these decisions are made.”

Congress Correspondent

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Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.

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