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Congress opens probe into Afghan trucking contract

Congress is investigating allegations that US tax dollars are being paid to warlords and the Taliban for security on supply routes used to truck food, water, fuel and ammunition to American troops in Afghanistan.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2009 14:58 IST

Congress is investigating allegations that US tax dollars are being paid to warlords and the Taliban for security on supply routes used to truck food, water, fuel and ammunition to American troops in Afghanistan.

If the allegations are true, then the US would be unintentionally involved in a protection racket and indirectly financing the enemy, Rep John Tierney, the Massachusetts Democrat leading the inquiry, said on Wednesday.

The Obama administration is escalating the US mission in Afghanistan amid concerns that corruption throughout the country is a major roadblock to progress.

Bribes and kickbacks are frequently used to do business there, raising worries among many Democrats on Capitol Hill that the US investment will fall short of stabilizing Afghanistan's shaky government.

Tierney is seeking documents from the Defense Department and companies connected to a $ 2.1 billion US contract to transport goods and materiel through Pakistan to Bagram Airfield, the US military's main hub in Afghanistan.

From Bagram, the supplies are distributed to several hundred smaller camps and bases spread throughout the country. Tierney said his staff has been told by credible informants that security guards hired by the trucking companies funnel money to the local warlords or the Taliban to ensure the convoys get to their destinations unscathed.