U.S. wasted millions building Afghan hotel that posed risk as enemy sniper's nest

The U.S. government is spending large sums of money to guard a $92 million hotel in Afghanistan that was abandoned before it was finished and now poses a security risk as a sniper nest to kill Americans embassy workers in Kabul.

The hotel, which was slated to be a five-star Marriott, was funded by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government development finance institution.

But the building was never been completed and now sits as an empty shell 400 feet away from the U.S. embassy.

Critics describe it as the latest symbol of inept nation building in America's longest war. 

“It’s your classic example of what’s wrong in Afghanistan,” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said in an interview with Hill.TV. “It looks good on the two sides facing the streets but if you walk inside it’s an empty shell."

According to Sopko's office, no one from OPIC came to check on the status of the hotel, or to see if the building was well underway.

OPIC officials cited security fears for not visiting the site before it was built.

“Their defense was that it was too dangerous to send anyone out to check on the hotel. Well the hotel is only 400 feet as you say away from the embassy. It was very easy to go over and check it out. They never did.
Again, no one is held responsible,” said Sopko, who works for the American watchdog for tax dollars spent in Afghanistan.

Taxpayer dollars are now going towards securing the facility around the clock. Tearing it down has been considered, but since the U.S. does not own the land it would have to be purchased before it can even be destroyed, officials said.

The U.S. Government spends $45 billion a year on Afghan reconstruction, and during the course of 17 years of war taxpayers have incurred between $841 billion and $2 trillion in costs in the country.

Sopko said the constant U.S. leadership changes in Afghanistan have made it difficult for several projects to be completed.

“You can’t pinpoint one source; there is no one person involved and part of the problem is we have divided responsibilities and divided leadership and poor planning," he said.