Following the Money in Afghanistan

The U.S. government sought to build new schools and clinics that would help Afghanistan and encourage stability in the former Taliban stronghold. But the projects, which cost millions in taxpayer dollars, have run into widespread construction problems and complaints of corruption. Washington Post reporters Joe Stephens and David Ottaway talk about their investigative project and a surreptitious video that shows construction monitors demanding a $50,000 payoff from Afghan builders in exchange for positive reports on construction projects.

The prime contractor for schools and clinics, Louis Berger Group Inc., subcontracted work on 28 buildings to the Reconstruction Development Association in Kabul. Berger hired CHF International, a respected global charity based in Silver Spring, Md., to visit construction sites and regularly file progress reports. In late 2003, a CHF monitor asked an association engineer for money in exchange for positive reports. The engineer responded by rigging a camera behind a potted plant at the association's Kabul office.

The video excerpts from the hidden camera are translated from Dari and Pashto. Photos courtesty of AP, Agence France Presse, and The Washington Post.

© 2005 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive