When the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan closed shop on Sept 30, it reported its sobering but conservative estimate that US taxpayers had lost between $31 billion and $60 billion in waste and fraud out of the $206 billion Uncle Sam has spent on contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, thats not all. According to the commissions final report, a similar amount could be lost due to unsustainable projects and programs. With that, the commission trucked its records to the National Archives and sealed them for 20 years. News travelled slowly up Capitol Hill. We learned of this development after the fact, the two original Senate co-sponsors of the commission, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Jim Webb, D-Va., wrote on Nov. 7 to the archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero. Noting that the commission hadnt thought to ask or even inform Congress about deep-freezing the documents for the next two decades, the senators asked that the National Archives make a full disclosure of the commissions files and records as quickly as possible, consistent with protections for privacy, proprietary information, and other applicable laws. There, as they say, the matter stands and what an outrage. Locking up vital public records is not behaviour becoming to a democratic republic. It is a peremptory and arbitrary act of authoritarianism. With the over classification of government documents rampant, it fits into a democracy-imperilling trend. Simply stated, the senators wrote, we need to live in the light. Amen - no matter what crawls out from under the piles of paper. The fact is, these wartime contracting expenditures are not for run-of-the-mill public works projects flawed by cost overruns, fraud and waste. They form the foundation of a failed American foreign policy to use our armies to build nations in regions culturally and religiously hostile to our principles. In increasing desperation, as these document no doubt attest, that foreign policy has become one of bribery on a grotesque scale. I dont know what else to call a 2009 USAID agricultural project that started as a $60 million initiative to distribute vouchers for wheat seed and fertilizer in the north - generous enough - and ended up, under pressure to inject $1 million each day in to a dozen or so key terrain districts, dumping $360 million dollars into the south and east not just for seeds and fertilizer but also cash-for-work - hmm - and something dubiously called community development. Or how about the US mission to train and equip Afghan National Security Forces at a cost to the American taxpayer of $6.4 billion a year? Such costs far exceed what the government of Afghanistan can sustain, the commission determined, so it is unclear how those costs will be funded in the future. Uh-oh. Meanwhile, the report continues, $11 billion of facilities constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for [Afghan National Security Forces] are at risk. Needless to say, $11 billion dollars worth of facilities is a terrible thing to waste. Then theres a category called Diversion of US Funds - as in diversion of US funds to the enemy. No official estimate here, the commission reports; its anyones guess. While the opium trade is considered to be the primary funding for the jihadists, guess whos next on the list? You are. During a March 2011 trip to Afghanistan, experts told the commission that extortion of funds form U.S construction projects and transportation contracts is the insurgents second-largest funding source. This record must be open to citizens, scholars and journalists ASAP, not to mention the Justice Department fraud squad. Otherwise, the bucks wont stop anywhere, ever. Washington Examiner