WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
EPA file photo
U.S. military officers on July 24 accused one of the highest-ranking US
commanders in Afghanistan of trying to cover up a scandal at a U.S.-funded hospital in Kabul to limit bad news in an election year.
The problems date back to the time ahead of contentious 2010 midterm congressional elections, when U.S. officers expressed concerns about the possible embezzlement of funds from the Afghan-run Dawood National Military Hospital and the lack of treatment provided to wounded Afghan soldiers. Some Afghan soldiers died of malnutrition at the hospital, in conditions that one retired Army colonel described as “Auschwitz-like.”
Several officers told U.S. lawmakers on July 24 that they were encouraged by Lieutenant General William Caldwell, then head of the NATO-led training mission in Afghanistan, not to report the problems to the Pentagon inspector general.
“The general did not want bad news to leave his command before the election - or after the election,” Colonel Gerald Carozza, Jr., a now-retired U.S. Army judge advocate, said in written testimony to the House Committee on Oversight.
Funds allocated for the Dawood hospital’s use, notably for the purchase of medications, were spent two times faster than in a comparable U.S. facility, due to the corrupt practices in place.
The Pentagon inspector general is now investigating the accusations against Caldwell, who is now based in Texas.