Time for some serious Congressional hearings.
The New York Times reports that Hamid Karzai’s brother, who has long been suspected of running a drug ring in southern Afghanistan — I mean, I asked Said Jawad, the Afghan ambassador to the U.S., about Ahmed Wali Karzai’s ties to opium trade in 2007 for TPM — is actually on the CIA payroll. That’s bad enough. But, I mean– screw it, here’s part of what I wrote for the Washington Independent about the implications of this:
At this point, everything about the U.S. policy toward the Afghan drug trade — from tolerance to eradication during the Bush administration to an evolving approach to cultivating alternatives — now ought to be questioned. As in questioned in open congressional session. CIA money funds a politically connected drug dealer. Opium funds the Taliban. We are in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. How much CIA money has indirectly funded the Taliban?
And that’s just scratching the surface of speculation that Congress needs to deal with. What’s the connection, if any, between U.S. counternarcotics policy in southern Afghanistan and the CIA/Ahmed Wali Karzai relationship? The Times notes that a variety of counternarcotics officials have “repeatedly expressed frustration over the unwillingness of senior policy makers in Washington to take action against Mr. Karzai — or even launch a serious investigation of the allegations against him.” Indeed, a GAO report from April made this assessment of the severity of the drug problem in southern Afghanistan:
Since 2005, opium poppy cultivation has been reduced dramatically in northern Afghanistan, but has increased greatly in the south. In 2008, 98 percent of Afghanistan’s opium was cultivated in 7 of its 34 provinces, all in the south, with one province, Helmand, accounting for 66 percent of the total.
Who’s going to be the first member of Congress to call for hearings into the CIA/Karzai clique relationship?