16 May, 2005


In 2002 the U.S. gave Uzbekistan $220 million in aid, broken down as follows:
Democracy Programs $26.2 million
Social Services $45.5 million
Market Reform $10.9 million
Security & Law Enforcement $79.0 million
Humanitarian Assistance $52.7 million
Community Development $5.5 million
Although this is clearly money well-spent, some groups complained that we were giving money to (and generally being chummy with) a regime that had a fairly awful human rights record. So aid diminished to $86 million in 2003. In December 2003, Colin Powell decided that the human rights record of Uzbekistan simply didn't meet the human rights standards the State Department had set for giving aid; the country was technically ineligible for aid. But, fear not - executive authority trumped these standards, and President Bush signed a waiver allowing Uzbekistan to continue receiving aid, despite the fact that it was just too damn horrible a place. It was vital security concerns that made him make that decision, you see.

However, in July of 2004, even that bulwark was steam-rolled by public shame, and the U.S. dramatically suspended aid to Uzbekistan completely, which by then had trickled down to a mere $18 million.

But wait!

Here's the clever, clever part. Our budget is so vast and labyrinthine that SURELY we could find ways to sneak money to our friends, if we wanted to. And so, not surprisingly, we find that the U.S. augmented its budget to help Uzbekistan fight the spread of bio weapons by $21 million in August of 2004.

"What's that?" you say. "We had a budget to help Uzbekistan fight the spread of bio-weapons?" Yes, that's right. $39 million worth, before. "And it wasn't suspended in July?" No, no. Why would it be? That was the State Department. Entirely different, don't you see? "Well, what other hidden budget items sending money to Uzbekistan don't we know about?" you might then ask. Well, who knows? That's why they're hidden, after all!

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