Pentagon: US transport funds end up with Taliban

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Money from a multibillion-dollar U.S. transportation contract in Afghanistan has made its way into the hands of the Taliban, the Pentagon said Monday, promising to tighten the rules for future spending.

The finding was made by a U.S. task force set up in Kabul a year ago to improve contracting, Defense Department spokesman Col. David Lapan said. It is consistent with a congressional report last summer that said trucking contractors pay tens of millions of dollars annually to local warlords across Afghanistan in exchange for guarding their supply convoys.

At issue is the $2.1 billion so-called Host Nation Trucking contract under which eight companies, through numerous subcontractors, transport food, water, fuel and ammunition to American troops stationed at bases across Afghanistan.

Lapan said Monday that a new contract will be awarded for the work and that a new system will be put in place to better vet contractors.

The yearlong review did not give a dollar amount but found “involvement in a criminal enterprise or support of the enemy” by four of the eight companies that have the current contract, said a story in The Washington Post, which first reported on the review late Sunday. It also said contractors were involved in money laundering, profiteering, kickbacks and fraudulent paperwork.