Brother of Afghan leader is said to be on CIA payroll

Brother of Afghan leader is said to be on CIA payroll

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.

The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.

“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan. [continued…]

Editor’s CommentAndrew Exum says this is the most important article on Afghanistan you’ll read this week:

Why, you ask? Because if this is true, and if the CIA is empowering Ahmed Wali Karzai at the same time in which NATO/ISAF is saying abusive local power-brokers are a threat to mission success, then this is yet another example of NATO/ISAF carrying out one campaign in Afghanistan while the CIA carries out another — with both campaigns operating at cross purposes to one another. I should say here that I am in no position to confirm or deny this report. I can, however, say that numerous military officials in southern Afghanistan with whom I have spoken identify AWK and his activities as the biggest problem they face — bigger than the lack of government services or even the Taliban. And so if AWK is “the agency’s guy”, that leads to a huge point of friction between NATO/ISAF and the CIA.

At some point, the CIA’s Congressional overseers — who’ve already complained that they have been misled by the agency on multiple occasions — should start asking some fundamental questions about the institution.

In this decade the CIA has had a central role in the biggest intelligence failure the US has ever had; it has implemented a torture program; operated ghost prisons; conducted kidnapping operations; and provided support for drug warlords. The list could I’m sure be made much longer. At what point will the conclusion be drawn that this Cold War anachronism does more to threaten than protect America’s national security?

Gunmen attack UN workers in Kabul

Taliban gunmen stormed a guest house in central Kabul on Wednesday morning, killing six United Nations employees and two Afghan security officials, according to U.N. officials, the police and the Afghan Interior Ministry.

One of those killed was an American security guard who battled the attackers as they came through the front gate in the predawn hours, according to an American who was staying in the guest house and who joined in the gun battle before shepherding 25 other residents to safety.

The police said one of the victims, a woman, had been shot in the head, and another burned to death. A cellphone video taken by a security official and seen by a reporter showed just the head and torso of a third victim, apparently cut in half when one of the attackers detonated his suicide vest. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — While the Taliban say this attack is intended to deter people from assisting in the November 7 runoff election it clearly also challenges the concept of a strategy based on protecting the most populated parts of Afghanistan. Reinforce the perception that the center of Kabul is unsafe and it gets hard to promote the idea that anywhere can be made safe.

Add to that the fact that the Taliban has the upper hand even when outnumbered by 12 to 1 and the argument that tens of thousands more American troops will enhance security becomes increasingly implausible.

A crash course in democracy

The decision by both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his main rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, to accept a runoff election is a welcome development that provides the Afghan government with an opportunity to restore its damaged credibility. The runoff election now faces two main challenges: making the process more credible and ensuring the election actually contributes to security. Setting Nov. 7 as the date for the election makes both impossible.

Nationwide elections in any country are logistically difficult. In Afghanistan, they’re a nightmare. Funds need to be mobilized (the last elections cost more than $500 million), new poll workers need to be hired (or fired), observers have to be recruited, voters reassured, and security forces redeployed. Because ballots are often transported by donkey, it could take weeks to distribute them to Afghanistan’s remotest areas. A mad rush will be the only way to get all of this done, and such haste will not contribute to a credible process.

The first step in ensuring a credible election, therefore, is to postpone the date for the runoff. [continued…]

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  1. DE Teodoru says

    Filkins, like crush-stricken Judy Miller in her love letters for Scooter Libby in the NYTs on Iraq WMDs, wrote an outrageous whitewash of McChrystal in last Sunday’s NYT Mag and so I’m a bit weary of this article’s angle. True, CIA, like a moth drawn to fire, works with ALL the dirty drug guys EVERYWHERE, often to the individual agent’s profit. But Wali Karzai is a Ngo Dinh Nhu deja vu for sure, the CIA having forgotten what that brother wrought with his double dealing seeking an “entre nous vietnamiens” deal to screw the US and kill the ambassador. High level DoD and DoS officials have made it clear that heroine is no longer an insurgents issue but TOTALLY a Karzai Gov issue– as it was with the Laotian regimes Ike, JFK and LBJ supported, CIA planes running deliveries. As in Iraq (and so often before) our imperial stretch entangles our proconsuls ever deeper in corruption (note Cheney’s Halliburton in Iraq); that enrages so many locals— friend & foe– that somehow had come to assume that America is better than that. Together they will collaborate to hurt and humiliate us as we run for the exit later. As for Exxum and his twisted logic of we’re losing but we can win, I remind that when the logic of Prof. Bacevich became overwhelming, like all the kiddie-intel-guys in Vietnam, he resorted to: I see things you’re not allowed to see so I know better.
    I heard that before from real gung-ho guys who lived with guilt the rest of their lives. Such obfuscating answers have for half a century lost us every COIN. This time we have a chance to get out without having to choose between defeat and illusion of victory of four-stars careerists at the Pentagon. Were binLaden alive he would look in marvel at how much better we achieved his goal of destroying US economy since his one shot on 9/11. It’s time for Filkins and Exxum to realize that history will not be held back by propagandistic babble. Moms and dads die, for what while America goes ever more in debt to China?