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Afghan commandos forces take part in an operations against the Taliban, IS and other insurgent groups. Photo: Wali Sabawoon / NurPhoto via Getty Images

A report from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reveals that as of Aug. 12, 2016, seven reports of child sexual assault from Afghan security forces were being tracked by the State and Defense Departments. One was found credible, and five are still under review.

Why it matters: Per SIGAR, the DOD has continued funding Afghan forces that were implicated in human rights violations.

The "Leahy laws," which stem from a joint forum between the DOD and State, require that U.S. funding be cut if the departments have "credible information that a unit of a foreign security force has committed a gross violation of human rights."

More findings from the report:

  • A notwithstanding clause in the DOD Appropriations Act has been interpreted to allow the Defense Secretary to "forgo implementation of the Leahy Law in specific cases or more broadly if necessary."
  • The clause was cited to continue funding 12 Afghan units "implicated in 14 gross violations of human rights incidents in 2013."
  • The DOD didn't have specific guidelines on the reporting of human rights violations in Afghanistan until 2011, 10 years after the U.S. arrived in the country.

Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col Mike Andrews, said in a statement: "The SIGAR report acknowledges that there is no evidence the DoD condones gross violations of human rights by Afghan Security Forces, or provided guidance telling service members to ignore any instances...The Department of Defense has never used the notwithstanding authority to continue assistance to a member of the Afghan forces or an Afghan unit as a result of a determination that allegations of child sexual assault were credible."

Go deeper

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

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