How The US Government Blew $1 Billion In Taxpayer Funds On “Ghost Schools” In Afghanistan

From 2008 to at least August 2013, USAID claimed it had built or refurbished more than 680 schools in the country since the U.S. invaded — a figure the agency sometimes used to counter bad press and that it repeated on Twitter and in blog posts, press releases, and a report from USAID’s Office of the Inspector General, not to mention in Secretary Clinton’s submission to Congress.


But over the last two years, USAID has quietly whittled away at that number without explaining what happened to the more than 115 schools it no longer says it built or refurbished. After BuzzFeed News pressed for an answer, Larry Sampler, the head of USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, said the agency had “revised its operational definition of school construction” to a “stricter definition.”


Less than 20 miles southeast of DeNenno’s school, Deh-e-Bagh Primary School was recorded in U.S. military records as completed in 2012, at cost and up to standard. The nine-room building, along with latrines and a security wall, would allow children to go to school regularly and provide a “tangible source of community pride and legitimacy” for local elders and the Afghan government, the records say.


But Deh-e-Bagh Primary School has never seen a single student. Only partially

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