The Washington Post reports:
The CIA is making secret payments to multiple members of President Hamid Karzai’s administration, in part to maintain sources of information in a government in which the Afghan leader is often seen as having a limited grasp of developments, according to current and former U.S. officials.
The payments are long-standing in many cases and designed to help the agency maintain a deep roster of allies within the presidential palace. Some aides function as CIA informants, but others collect stipends under more informal arrangements meant to ensure their accessibility, a U.S. official said.
The CIA has continued the payments despite concerns that it is backing corrupt officials and undermining efforts to wean Afghans’ dependence on secret sources of income and graft.
The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a significant number of officials in Karzai’s administration are on the payroll. Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman, disputed that characterization, saying, “This anonymous source appears driven by ignorance, malice or both.”
A former agency official said the payments were necessary because “the head of state is not going to tell you everything” and because Karzai often seems unaware of moves that members of his own government make.
The disclosure comes as a corruption investigation into one of Karzai’s senior national security advisers – and an alleged agency informant – puts new strain on the already fraying relationship between Washington and Kabul.