FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade

The Obama administration wants Americans to believe that it is fiercely anti-corruption.   “I have been shocked by the degree to which I find corruption pandemic in the world today,” declared Secretary of State John Kerry at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London on May 12.   Kerry sounded like the French detective in Casablanca who was “shocked” to discover gambling. Six years ago at the United Nations, President Obama proclaimed that the U.S. government is “leading a global effort to combat corruption.”   Maybe he forgot to send Kerry the memo.

Much of the teeth-gnashing at the summit involved tax evasion. Politicians pledged to share more data on tax records and corporate ownership to help boost government revenue around the globe. Summit attendees castigated hidden offshore bank accounts – ironically, the same type of accounts used by both British Prime Minister David Cameron and Kerry. A joint communique solemnly pledged to “drive out those lawyers, real estate agents and accountants who facilitate or are complicit in corruption.”

But the summit largely ignored how corruption is fueled by western governments, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Foreign aid has long been notorious for breeding kleptocracies — governments of thieves. Economic studies have revealed that corrupt governments receive more foreign aid. Fourteen years ago, President George W. Bush promised to reform foreign aid: “We won’t be putting money into a society which is not transparent and corrupt.” (He probably meant “corruption-free.”) But U.S. aid programs – which cost taxpayers more than $40 billion a year – continue to bankroll many of the world’s most crooked regimes (according to ratings by Transparency International) – including Uzbekistan, Haiti, and Kenya. And there is no “Tyrants Need Not Apply” sign at the entrance to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Obama administration has valiantly resisted congressional efforts to stop payouts to political bandits abroad. In 2011, when a House committee sought to curb the abuse, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that restricting handouts to nations that fail anti-corruption tests “has the potential to affect a staggering number of needy aid recipients.”

Since Obama took office, the U.S. government has provided more than $50 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan – even though that nation’s president, Ashraf Ghani, admitted last week that his nation is “one of the most corrupt countries on earth.” Seven years ago, Obama gave his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, a six-month deadline to eradicate corruption. Obama’s imperative only accelerated the looting by Afghan government officials and cronies.

Pervasive corruption is a major reason why the Taliban is re-conquering more of that nation each year. At Afghanistan’s premier military hospital, some wounded Afghan soldiers starved to death because they could not afford to bribe the hospital staff for food. Much of the Afghan Army is practically bootless because of crooked contracts that deliver shoddy footwear that literally falls apart the first time soldiers wear them.

Kerry promised that the U.S. would help fund a Global Consortium of Civil Society and Investigative Journalists against Corruption. But on the homefront, the Obama administration has scourged individuals who disclosed federal abuses. Obama’s Justice Department launched more than twice as many federal prosecutions for Espionage Act violations as all previous administrations combined. When Obama took office, the U.S. was ranked as having the 20th most-free press in the world, according to the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index — in the same league as Germany and Japan. By 2016, it had fallen to 41st — worse than South Africa and barely ahead of Botswana. Despite Obama’s boast of running “the most transparent administration in history,” his appointees have helped turn the Freedom of Information Act into a charade.

Kerry joined foreign chieftains in calling for more transparency to fight corruption but he forgot to notify his own State Department. Three days before Kerry’s speech, the State Department confirmed that it had “lost” all the emails of I.T. technician who set up the private email server that Hillary Clinton used to potentially illicitly keep her correspondence secret (and to ignore federal law on classified information). Nor have we learned the shady details behind our former Secretary of State shoveling out scores of billions of dollars and special treatment to foreign governments at the same time the Clinton Foundation collected millions of dollars from some of the beneficiaries. Many of the oppressive nations that donated to the Clinton Foundation saw huge increases in approvals for weapons sales from the U.S. during Hillary’s time as Secretary of State.

In his London speech, Kerry boasted of U.S. government plans “to put $70 million into additional integrity initiative to help with local police training” to curtail “opportunity for bribery and graft.” Unfortunately, the Obama administration will continue fueling police graft here in the U.S. Obama’s Justice Department recently resumed a widely-denounced program to reward local and state law enforcement agencies for confiscating the property of hapless citizens who have been convicted of no crime. Government agencies routinely keep most of the money they confiscate, sometimes using it to pay bonuses to the lawmen who plundered private citizens. Federal law enforcement agencies used asset forfeiture programs in 2014 to seize more property from Americans than all the burglars stole nationwide.

Each summit attendee issued a statement “setting out the concrete actions they will take in order to tackle corruption.” Among other pledges, the U.S. government promised to conduct “Stronger Security Assistance Oversight” including “ensuring that our security assistance also addresses governance goals.” Tell that to the downtrodden Egyptians. The Obama administration continues providing more than a billion dollars of year to the Egyptian military – despite their role in toppling Egypt’s elected president in 2013 (a coup which Kerry bizarrely praised for “restoring democracy”) and slaughtering hundreds, if not thousands, of protestors. On the same day as Kerry’s speech, the Government Accountability Office reported that the State Department persistently violates federal law by providing military equipment to the Egyptian government and totally ignoring the requirement to track Egypt’s “gross human rights violations.”

Perhaps Americans should count their blessings that this particular international summit is not likely to spur a new war. Kerry and Obama are correct that corruption is a pestilence ravaging much of the planet. But the administration’s credibility would be boosted if it had not worsened the problem at home and abroad.

More articles by:

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors. He is on Twitter at @jimbovard. His website is at www.jimbovard.com  This essay was originally published by Future of Freedom Foundation.

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Sam Husseini
The Trump-Media Logrolling
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail