Clinton: No Tolerance of Afghan Corruption

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about Afghanistan for the Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, broadcast of "Face the Nation."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about Afghanistan for the Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, broadcast of "Face the Nation."
CBS/Karin Cooper

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on "Face The Nation" Saturday that U.S. money in Afghanistan will not go to supporting corrupt agencies in the Afghan government, and that distribution of funds will be based on a "certification of accountability and transparency," leaving some questionable ministries without funding from the U.S.

"We've looked at every civilian assistance program and contract and we've said, 'Look, we're not going to just aid and abet bad behavior," Clinton told CBS News senior Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. "Part of the challenge here is to begin to make the more difficult, complicated assessments that were not made before."

Karzai's government has been plagued by corruption since his first election victory in 2004. In this year's election, Karzai's reputation with Western nations has been severely damaged after an inquiry found that nearly one third of the votes cast for him were bogus.

Even as he pledged in his second inauguration speech that he would name competent and candid ministers, doubts as to the validity of his government remain, especially as two of his cabinet ministers are under investigation for embezzlement. Even Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, has been linked to Afghanistan's booming heroin trade.

Through the seemingly widespread corruption, the Obama Administration sees hope in facets of the Afghan government, Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted.

"The reality is the Karzai government has been painted with too broad a brush," he said. "The reality is we have several ministries - Interior, Defense, Agriculture, Education and some others - where we have very competent, honest ministers that are doing a darn good job. We also have governors in important provinces that are making a big difference, that are honest and competent."

Gates added, "What we are going to do is focus on the ministries that matter to our success and that contribute to the success of our strategy, both with respect to al Qaeda and stabilizing the security situation."

Schieffer also asked Secretary Clinton about NATO's pledge to commit 7,000 additional troops and whether she thinks more will be committed.

"I do. I do think there will be more coming," she said.

Secretary Gates added, "The fact is that with this pledge of 7,000, that will be 50,000 non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan. That is not a trivial matter."

Read the Complete "Face the Nation" Transcript (12.06.09)

Clinton said pledges from other nations of additional troops are a vote of confidence in the new strategy, in spite of the Afghan war's unpopularity, here at home or abroad.

"A lot of them have really fought and they sacrificed and they lost people, too," she said. "For the leaders of our NATO allies and our other partners in the international security force ISAF to say, 'We really believe this is the right thing to do. We do see it as affecting our national security. And we want to be in. You know, we started this fight together. We want to continue it and finish it together,' was a reflection of the work that we've done all year to rebuild these relationships."