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Military Aid Gets A Partial Pass on Foreign Assistance Transparency Push

Afghanistan National Police participate in a live fire training exercise at the police academy on the outskirts of Jalalabad on April 9, 2013. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this year, we detailed the Obama administration’s opposition to congressional efforts to require more oversight of aid to foreign militaries and police forces.

Security assistance – a broad category that covers about $25 billion in yearly spending on everything from sending equipment to Israel to training Afghan officers – skyrocketed in the wake of 9/11, growing by 227 percent from 2002 to 2012. A slew of recent reports from government watchdog agencies have found a glaring lack of accountability around security assistance.

In 2012, Congress drafted a bill that would have subjected all foreign aid, including security assistance, to stricter monitoring and transparency requirements. As we reported, the Pentagon successfully opposed the effort for security aid. The bill never made it to a vote.

When the bill was reintroduced this year, congressional staffers worried that military aid would again escape increased oversight.

But last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a compromise: The bill requires the administration to develop standards for all aid, but allows for more flexibility on military aid -- so long as the administration can show that a program already has sufficient oversight.

The Secretary of State can also waive transparency requirements if he determines it is in the “national interest” of the U.S., or to protect the “health or security” of another country.

While “weaker” than previous versions, the bill “is a good step in the right direction,” said Lora Lumpe, senior policy analyst with the Open Society Foundations. It “keeps pressure on the administration to come up with credible monitoring and evaluation plans for security assistance,” she said. (ProPublica recieves funding from Open Society.)

A spokeswoman for Ben Cardin, D-Md., who co-sponsored the bill, said that the changes came about in months of negotiations with the State and Defense Departments.

The transparency legislation has been championed by a curious alliance of Tea Party Republicans and prominent aid groups such as Oxfam. Foreign aid makes up only about one percent of the federal budget, but it is a favorite target for budget hawks. Aid groups, for their part, see more transparency as a way to justify their efforts.

The latest bill requires the administration to publish aid data on a country-by-country, program-by-program basis on a public website. (That website, foreignassistance.gov, already exists, but with partial data. The bill makes the effort law.)

A State Department advisers’ report earlier this year recommended a complete overhaul of the government’s approach to security assistance, calling for more interagency coordination and a bigger emphasis on non-military programs. Shortly after the report was released, the White House announced its own initiative to tackle the issue.

A really good strip tease often includes lacy fish net stockings, 9” heels, & loud erotic music, ‘partial transparency’ is just part of the game. 

This rich Federal whore dances not because she is sexy, seething in her twisted old fashioned ways for all to see, she is the addict that only the lowest of the low seek to play with.

The pride of her studded corporate toys fill the overflowing gutters, part of the insanity show.

And all the people keep waiting for the finale they had hoped for…when she pulls her head out of her ass, the Federal whore laughs knowing that isn’t going to happen, not when partial transparency IS the show.

so tame;)

In other words, as long as the administration claims we can trust it, we’re obligated to trust it.

Seriously, no standardized oversight if there’s already a program in place?  The oversight over the NSA has certainly been top-notch, so I guess this can’t possibly go wrong.

I have to wonder where this idea comes from that a democracy needs to be run in the shadows.

>>>John   “I have to wonder where this idea comes from that a democracy needs to be run in the shadows.”

~~~~from the English, of course~~~~

so tame;)