CIA Wasted Millions of Taxpayer Dollars on Cash to Afghan Leader
U.S. officials have long complained about corruption in Afghanistan’s government—and now it’s come out that one of the biggest contributors to said corruption was the United States itself.
In one of the most disturbing tales yet of payoffs, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spent more than a decade delivering tens of millions of dollars in cash to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to an investigation led by Matthew Rosenberg of The New York Times.
The newspaper learned that American dollars—what one former Afghan official called “ghost money”—were put into suitcases, backpacks and even plastic shopping bags and dropped off in secret in the hopes it would buy influence with Karzai and warlords.
Instead, the payments undermined U.S. efforts to help Afghanistan develop a legitimate, democratic government.
“The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” one American official told the Times, “was the United States.”
Mohammed Zia Salehi, the administrative chief of the Afghan National Security Office in charge of distributing the CIA cash, was arrested in July 2010, accused, among other transgressions, of smuggling cash out of the country. He made a call to Hamid Karzai and was instantly released.
According to Matthew Rosenberg, Salehi, referring to the contradiction of the U.S. government trying to fight corruption in Afghanistan, while at the same time forking over millions of dollars of cash, said, called himself, “an enemy of the FBI and a hero to the CIA.”
In a follow-up story, Karzai acknowledged the CIA payments, claiming the money was used for “various purposes.” Those close to Karzai said the cash went to pay off warlords, lawmakers and others whom the president courted for support. Karzai shrugged off the controversy, noting that his Office of National Security still receives monthly cash payments from the CIA. Later, his office issued a statement that some of the money was used to treat wounded soldiers, but others suggested that it wasn’t wounded soldiers who were receiving “treats.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Afghan Leader Acknowledges Cash Deliveries by C.I.A. (by Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times)
How the CIA’s Bags of Cash Undermined the Afghanistan War (by Spencer Ackerman, Wired)
With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan (by Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times)
What’s Next for the Family the U.S. Put in Power in Afghanistan? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Is the U.S. Supporting a Family of Karzai Crooks in Afghanistan? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Karzai Family Inc. in Afghanistan (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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