A U.S. congressional report says the United States is paying tens of millions of dollars annually to Afghan security firms who are channeling the money to warlords, and potentially to the Taliban.
The report says the Pentagon's system of hiring private companies to move supplies in Afghanistan, and leaving it up to them to provide their own security, has fueled "a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and pershaps others."
Congressional investigators said convoys were frequently attacked if the money was not paid.
The investigators said protection payments were a "significant potential source of funding for the Taliban."
They said the arrangement violates U.S. Defense Department regulations and may be undermining U.S. efforts to defeat the insurgency, fight corruption, and build an effective Afghan government.
The report, which follows a six-month investigation, is to be reviewed at a congressional hearing later today.
compiled from agency reports