Report: U.S. Bribes to Protect Convoys Are Funding Taliban Insurgents

In an interview, Ruhullah denied any wrongdoing and any payments to anyone. He says simply he is good at his job – fighting force with force.

"I have been in this business for the past 5-6 years and have made a lot of sacrifices. Even to the extent that we had 35 people martyred in a day," at the hand of the Taliban, he says. Even if he wanted to bribe local insurgent groups, he says it would be impossible. "How many groups can we pay money to? If we pay one, then the other won't leave us alone, and so on. We have had no money dealings with them so far and we won't do it in the future. What we would spend on them, we will spend on a fight."

In the end, the subcommittee and the American trucking executives don't only worry that American money is going to fund the Taliban. They are also worried that the contracting system is perpetuating Afghanistan's security problem; the payments to local contractors, they say, encourages instability along the roads and props up the kinds of warlords and local thugs who Afghans came to hate during the civil war of the early 1990s. And they say if Americans are seen to be supporting those people, then the Afghan public will refuse to support the Americans or the government -- whose police and army have been bypassed by the U.S. contracting system.

"If one of the foundational aspects of counter-insurgency is to have a government in Afghanistan that people from that country can trust and put their faith in and believe that it's not corrupt, it doesn't seem to make much sense to me to put that kind of money at risk of feeding corruption and building up powers that are not the government," Tierney says. "When people see police and army people getting paid off and gangsters running around making huge amounts of money while a truck driver might make $200 a month -- but the guy that's armed might make $20 million in a year -- that does not lend itself to people having a great deal of confidence that the system is going to work for them."

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