Facing Mounting Questions, USAID Cancels Afghan Propaganda Contract

Sought to Hire Photographers to Take Less Depressing Pictures

Pictures of Afghanistan, beyond picturesque poppy fields, have been uniformly unpleasant. USAID, which funnels all the money into the Obama Administration’s various projects noticed this too, with most pictures of USAID work in Afghanistan meaning pictures of crumbling, half-built structures accompanying stories of millions wasted on them.

USAID had a plan though, and it was to hire photographers to take some more upbeat photos to “help inform Afghans” about how great their projects really are. It didn’t last long.

USAID first requested proposals on Monday, and was immediately pressed by NGOs about why it was using its budget, which it is constantly complaining is too small, on “glossy propaganda” photos. By Thursday, USAID decided that instead of answering that question, it’d be easier to just scrap the contract entirely.

USAID is constantly under fire from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction for wasting money, and failing to account for where the money goes when they hand over block grants to Afghan government agencies. Today’s scandal will no doubt add more questions about that.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.