CIA bankrolling Afghan government officials ‘on a vast scale’
April 29, 2013 7 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has delivered “tens of millions of dollars [in] off-the-books cash” to Afghanistan’s governing elite, but there is little evidence that such bribes have helped promote Washington’s interests in the country, according to a new exposé published over the weekend in The New York Times. The paper cites “current and former advisers to the Afghan leader” Hamid Karzai, who allege that, for over a decade, the CIA has secretly delivered to the presidential palace in Afghan capital Kabul monthly payments ranging “from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars”. According to Khalil Roman, who was President Karzai’s Chief of Staff for four years until 2005, Afghan officials called the CIA funds “ghost money” because “it came in secret [and] left in secret”. The article suggests that the cash given to the Afghan government appears to be handled outside the CIA’s standard financial assistance programs, which are typically subject to restrictions and oversight from administrators both inside and outside the Agency. Some American officials, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity, said the CIA’s goal in funding the inner circle of the Afghan government is to maintain access to its members and to “guarantee the Agency’s influence at the presidential palace”. But there is little evidence that the funds, which are handled exclusively by a “small clique at [Afghanistan’s] National Security Council” have bought the CIA the political influence it seeks. On the contrary, according to The Times, some American officials believe that the unsupervised bribes have “fueled corruption” in the country and have ended up in the pockets of Afghan warlords, who in turn work to undermine America’s national security strategy in Afghanistan. One unnamed American official told the paper that “the biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan is the United States” itself. The article notes that the inner circle of the Afghan government is also funded by Iran, and that the CIA’s effort is partly aimed at countering Iranian influence in Kabul’s governing circles. The paper contacted the CIA, but the Agency declined to comment on the story.