CIA bankrolling Afghan government officials ‘on a vast scale’

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.

7 Responses to CIA bankrolling Afghan government officials ‘on a vast scale’

  1. If the money buys silence/complicity in the CIA’s longstanding criminal element reaping vast profits from international narcotics trafficking, some (within the agency) most assuredly will consider the money both; chicken feed AND well spent:

    The New York Times is a schizophrenic publication, or cowardly, they’ll often scratch the surface but seldom fail to dig and never seem to hesitate to spin for DC

  2. TFH says:

    The corrupt and control method backfired with Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega, maybe it has worked in many other instances but seems to be going wrong regarding Hamid Karzai as well. Wonder if he and his clique is getting money from China as well as Iran and USA, his brother is a major drug exporter so the Afghan government has ties to organized crime the world over as well, well played Hamid!

  3. TFH says:

    Oh, I see Ahmed Wali Karzai was killed in 2011. RIP

  4. Pete says:


  5. Andrew Beckwith says:

    CIA bought the Northern Alliance in 2001 to boot the Taliban in Kabul, then Bin Ladin bribed the N. Alliance to let him escape Afghanistan. See the pattern ? It is a case of who has the bigger wallet. And such situations never end well. I.e. multiple betrayal is always what one gets

  6. Pete says:

    The US’s $ multi-billion per year military and civil aid commitment to Afghanistan probably makes the CIA’s covert spending look relatively small.

    Also in countries with low local wages money/bribes/commissions to a large number of people is more affordable and a more persuasive prospect.

    If covert spending holds some Taliban back while US troops withdraw in greater numbers next year such spending may save many American lives.

  7. TFH says:

    @Andrew Beckwith: It is worth remembering that the Talibans grew to their current stature thanks to US funds and support while the common enemy was the Soviets. There is a repeating pattern of USA backing ‘their bad guy’ only to have them turn against US interests later, excluding interests of weapon manufacturers of course.

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