Congressional Desk
February 24, 2009

Final verdict on Bush Administration's Pakistan Policy shows failure, according to new government report unveiled by Sens. Menendez and Harkin: Despite $12.3 billion spent since 9/11, U.S. "has not met its national security goals" and "lacked a comprehensive plan"

WASHINGTON – Today [Sunday, February 23], U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) unveiled a new Government Accountability Office report showing failure in U.S efforts to root out terrorists in Pakistan´s border region through the end of the Bush administration. Despite more than $12.3 billion in U.S. assistance to Pakistan since 9/11, almost $8.7 billion of which was in reimbursements for Pakistani military operations, the independent GAO found the following over the course of 2008:

The United States had not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan´s FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas];

The United States lacked a comprehensive plan to meet those goals that included all elements of national power – diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic, and law enforcement support – called for by various national security strategies and Congress, as well as key components we have previously reported as being needed to improve the effectiveness of plans involving multiple departments; and

Increased oversight and accountability was needed over Pakistan´s reimbursement claims for Coalition Support Funds (CSF). [Pg. 2]

The GAO cites some efforts last year within the Department of Defense and the State Department to increase coordination of U.S. agencies with respect to Pakistan and within the Department of Defense to increase oversight of military reimbursements, but still raises questions as to the effectiveness and scope of those efforts.

"By just about every measure that matters – falling short of national security goals, inefficient use of taxpayer money and failure to adapt – it´s clear that the strategy in place over the past seven years must be rethought if we are to improve our security," said Senator Menendez. "Without a doubt, this involves complicated issues in a volatile region, but results are what matter, and the result of the previous policy is that our nation´s top enemy is revitalized. As the chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee in charge of international assistance programs, I look forward to working on a policy that focuses assistance on institutions that help ensure long-term stability and minimize the threat in Pakistan."

"The Bush Administration has thrown billions of taxpayer dollars down a rabbit hole and failed to close the terrorist safe haven along Pakistan´s border with Afghanistan – one of our nation's key national security goals," said Harkin. "And now we learn that the Taliban and al Qaeda are more able than ever to attack the United States. This colossal foreign policy and national security failure is yet another legacy item of the Bush Administration - one that we will work to turn around with President Obama and the new Congress."

Senators Menendez and Harkin were the Senate requesters of this GAO report.

According to the GAO, of the $12.3 billion in assistance to Pakistan since 9/11, 70.4 percent ($8.7 billion) has been in the form of Coalition Support Fund reimbursements for military activity; 26.7 percent ($3.3 billion) has been in the form of development and economic support; 2.6 percent ($318 million) has been in the form of law enforcement; and 0.3 percent ($39.5 million) has been in the form of diplomacy.