Harkin, Menendez Unveil GAO Report Showing US Failing To Close Terrorist Camps In Pakistan

Harkin, Menendez Unveil GAO Report Showing US Failing To Close Terrorist Camps In Pakistan

Al Qaeda re-established in Pakistan even after U.S. funneled $10 billion into FATA region

Washington - U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) revealed findings today from a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report they commissioned showing that the United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close terrorist safe havens in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) region. Similar safe havens were used in Afghanistan to plan the 9/11 terrorist attacks and many of the conspirators traveled through Pakistan to get to the U.S.

The report also found that of the $10 billion that the U.S. sent to Pakistan from 2002 to 2007, 96 percent was used to reimburse Pakistan's military for operations in the FATA region which have shown little success. Not only were no steps taken to assess how these funds were being used but major studies, including the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, concluded that Al Qaeda had regenerated its ability to attack the U.S. and succeeded in establishing a safe haven in Pakistan.

"This news is appalling, but not surprising. The Bush Administration has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and failed to act on the very law he signed to protect us from terrorist attacks," said Senator Harkin. "As this GAO report recommends, the White House must propose a strategic policy in this area and follow it, especially when we have this new opportunity to forge a fresh strategic relationship with the new civilian government in Pakistan."

Senator Menendez said, "For anyone wondering how we're doing in the fight to get the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, this report pretty much says it all. The Bush administration has had six years to come up with a plan to get Osama bin Laden and his group, but it is still flying by the seat of its pants. We've dumped 10 billion American taxpayer dollars into Pakistan with the expectation that the terrorists will be hunted down and smoked out, but al Qaeda has been allowed to rejuvenate in the area that is supposed to be locked down. The Bush administration cannot be allowed to continue this aimless, wasteful approach and expect to get a blank check from the taxpayers for it."

The GAO report concluded that there was no comprehensive plan in place for meeting U.S. national security goals in the FATA as required by the National Strategy to Combat Terrorism, the 9/11 Commission and legislation passed by Congress. Specifically, Congress created the National Counterterrorism Center in 2004 to create comprehensive plans to combat terrorism but the Bush Administration failed to develop one. Therefore, the report recommended that the President's national security and defense advisors come together to abide by this congressional mandate and create a plan to combat terrorist threats and close safe havens in the FATA.
Harkin and Menendez joined the following members in commissioning the GAO report: Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Mike Pence (R-IN), John Tierney (D-MA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT). The GAO report is the first in a series of reports aimed at responding to the members' request for information regarding progress within the FATA region. The report can be accessed through the following http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/042008GAOreport.pdf and will be available on www.gao.gov later today.