December 17, 2009 4:42 p.m. EST-Washington (CNN)
Congress is launching a broad-ranging investigation into possible waste, misuse and corruption tied to billions of taxpayer dollars used to support private military contractors in Afghanistan.
Among the questions being raised is whether money provided in a nearly $2.2 billion trucking contract in the war-torn country went to pay off local warlords and the Taliban.
"Serious allegations have been brought to [Congress'] attention that private security providers for U.S. transportation contractors in Afghanistan are regularly paying local warlords and the Taliban for security," said Rep. John Tierney, D-Massachusetts, who chairs the House National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee.
"After a preliminary inquiry, it has been determined these reports warrant a full-scale ... investigation. If shown to be true, it would mean that the United States is unintentionally engaged in a vast protection racket and, as such, may be indirectly funding the very insurgents we are trying to fight