Grassley Explores Whether Pentagon Retaliated Against Colonel Who Questioned $800 Million Afghanistan Task Force Records
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is seeking answers on allegations from an Army colonel that the Pentagon is slow-walking his performance review because he questioned the lack of accountability at the $800 million task force that oversaw an excessively expensive $43 million natural gas filling station in Afghanistan. Grassley wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter about Army Colonel John C. Hope.
“Being long overdue, (the evaluation) has placed his next assignment in jeopardy, leaving him in limbo,” Grassley wrote to Carter. “He alleges he is being deliberately ‘slow rolled’ by his ‘raters.’ … Would you please look into this and find out why Colonel Hope’s (evaluation) has not been completed? I respectfully ask that you provide a deadline for completing that task and providing Colonel Hope with a new set of orders for his next assignment. Your assistance is necessary in this case.”
Grassley wrote that Hope believes he’s been singled out for retaliation and retribution for speaking out about a lack of accountability at the task force. He’s been told he performed poorly at the task force, in contrast to four previous job reviews recommending a promotion to brigadier general.
“If the Pentagon is retaliating against someone for speaking out on poor accountability and wasteful spending, that’s unacceptable,” Grassley said. “It’s detrimental to the individual and to the taxpayers.”
The now-defunct Task Force for Stability and Business Operations spent $800 million in carrying out its mission to facilitate economic development in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) faced impeded access to task force documents in reviewing the gas station cost over-run.
Grassley has asked the Defense Department to give him all records related to task force activities pertaining to Afghanistan, from January 1, 2009, through March 31, 2015; and all records concerning the task force from April 1, 2015, to the date of his request, including all records pertaining to SIGAR’s requests for information regarding the task force, and all records discussing SIGAR reports, letters, or statements about the task force.
Grassley has pressed the Defense Department to cooperate with SIGAR by releasing all documents, names of staff involved and reasons for placing severe restrictions on information behind the construction of the natural gas filling station.
He plans to seek a Department of Defense inspector general audit of the $800 million task force expenditures and will ask fellow senators to join the request.
Grassley’s latest letter is available here.