One of the funders of CAI who may now be wondering where his money went is President Obama. Last year, the president donated $100,000 out of his $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize winnings to the Bozeman, Montana-based charity. It was one of the 10 U.S.-based organizations the president chose because of their "extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need."Is there anything Obama's touches that doesn't crumble?
Mortenson's book is an inspirational tale of a mountaineer who finds a remote village after failing to climb K2, the world's second-highest mountain. He is taken in by strangers and three cups of tea later he promises to build them a school. The charity inspired by the encounter has raised $60m and in 2009 said it was supporting 54 schools in Afghanistan serving 28,475 students, 21,165 of them girls. Obama donated $100,000 to the group from the proceeds of his Nobel prize. The book has become required reading for US servicemen heading for Afghanistan.Who knows, maybe he's laundering money back to Obama's re-election campaign.
But reporters for CBS's 60 Minutes programme visited almost 30 of the schools and claimed that roughly half were empty, built by someone else or not receiving any support. The programme alleged that Mortenson's charity, Central Asia Institute (CAI), spent more on book promotion and publicity than on building schools. Mortenson took private jets to events where he was paid $30,000 to speak, according to the programme, and former associates accused him of using CAI as his own "private ATM".
Makes you wonder: If Mortonsen's book is fair game for scrutiny with the media, why not Obama's?