WASHINGTON – In stories sent Aug. 16-17, The Associated Press cited the findings of a U.S. military task force that concluded $360 million in U.S. government contract payments in Afghanistan ended up in the hands of the Taliban, criminals and power brokers with ties to both. The story quoted a 2010 congressional report that said armed guards working for Commander Rohullah operated a protection racket, charging contractors moving military supplies along the Kabul-Kandahar highway as much as $1,500 a vehicle. Rohullah's guards fought regularly against the Taliban, but congressional investigators believe Rohullah also made payments to the Taliban. The AP also cited Rohullah's denial in the report of making any payments to the Taliban.
The story should have noted that the congressional report was a key factor in the Army's move to bar Rohullah from being allowed to bid on U.S. contracts. Rohullah's lawyer, Gerald Posner of New York, challenged the action, and the Army disclosed June 2 that it was dropping debarment proceedings. The Army said Rohullah's statements in May 2010 to congressional Investigators may have been "either misunderstood or misconstrued" due to his lack of English, and he was "less likely" to engage in similar conduct in the future.