McKinsey and Mayor Pete in Afghanistan

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Pete Buttigieg worked for the vile management-consulting company McKinsey & Company between 2007 and 2010, which he essentially refuses to discuss, claiming it would violate a non-disclosure agreement he signed with the firm. It’s the “one piece of his meticulously programmed biography that he mentions barely, if at all, on the campaign trail,” the New York Times noted in a story today.

The story — “When Pete Buttigieg Was One of McKinsey’s Whiz Kids” —offered a a glimmer of light into what Buttigieg was doing when he was in Iraq and Afghanistan for McKinsey in 2009, though Mayor Pete himself was not particularly helpful. According to a former McKinsey consultant who worked in Afghanistan, the company’s role involved “work in the mining industry and a government transparency project. The Times also found that McKinsey was working on a 50-page report about the economic potential of the city of Herat, for which it had received $18.6 million. “One of those sounds just exactly like what I was doing,” Buttigieg told the newspaper, though he said his NDA prevented him from saying anything more.

The study on Herat — which no one seems to have a copy of — was cited in an April 2018 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. It said that the report, paid for by the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), appeared to be the only thing McKinsey did for the $18.6 million, though its contract called for it to “deliver training workshops, compile a history of economic development programs in Afghanistan, define TFBSO’s strategic focus for Afghanistan, and identify potential projects in priority provinces, among other things.”

During testimony before the senate in 2016, Brian McKeon, then a deputy undersecretary of defense, was asked about McKinsey’s work in Afghanistan. The company was asked “to do an analysis of what sectors might be productive in terms of economic generation,” he said. “They focused on a few set issues, including particularly the extractives industries, minerals and fossil fuels. We have not found this review or study. In my experience with McKinsey, it is a ten-page slide deck, so I am not sure it is going to answer many questions anyway.”

I wrote a story in 2009 which showed that about half of the $7.9 million billion allocated to Afghanistan up to that point had been directly sent to U.S. companies. This ripoff was partly caused because most contracts required the hiring of U.S. consultants, who were being paid up to $1,000 a day, or contract employees who were paid as much as $500,000 annually. So in short, McKinsey and Mayor Pete were in Afghanistan to do what every other beltway bandit was up to at the same time, namely getting rich off of U.S. aid that allegedly was intended to “rebuild” Afghanistan while looking for opportunities for American companies.

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