03 May 2013

The CIA delivered truckloads of cash to Afghanistan

We all heard stories about this years ago, but now it has been openly admitted.  As reported by the New York Times:
For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency.

All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader...

The C.I.A., which declined to comment for this article, has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new accounts of off-the-books cash delivered directly to his office show payments on a vaster scale, and with a far greater impact on everyday governing

Moreover, there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan. 

“The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” one American official said, “was the United States.”..

It is not clear that the United States is getting what it pays for. Mr. Karzai’s willingness to defy the United States — and the Iranians, for that matter — on an array of issues seems to have only grown as the cash has piled up. ..

But the C.I.A. has continued to pay, believing it needs Mr. Karzai’s ear to run its clandestine war against Al Qaeda and its allies, according to American and Afghan officials. 

Like the Iranian cash, much of the C.I.A.’s money goes to paying off warlords and politicians, many of whom have ties to the drug trade and, in some cases, the Taliban...

Handing out cash has been standard procedure for the C.I.A. in Afghanistan since the start of the war. During the 2001 invasion, agency cash bought the services of numerous warlords, including Muhammad Qasim Fahim, the current first vice president...

Payments ordinarily range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, the officials said, though none could provide exact figures. The money is used to cover a slew of off-the-books expenses, like paying off lawmakers or underwriting delicate diplomatic trips or informal negotiations. 

Much of it also still goes to keeping old warlords in line. One is Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek whose militia served as a C.I.A. proxy force in 2001. He receives nearly $100,000 a month from the palace, two Afghan officials said. Other officials said the amount was significantly lower. 

Mr. Dostum, who declined requests for comment, had previously said he was given $80,000 a month to serve as Mr. Karzai’s emissary in northern Afghanistan. “I asked for a year up front in cash so that I could build my dream house,” he was quoted as saying in a 2009 interview with Time magazine. 
When Karzai was asked how the money was used he offered this explanation:
During a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, where he was on an official visit, Karzai said the welcome monthly payments were not a “big amount” but were a “small amount,”He said they were used to give assistance to the wounded and sick, to pay rent for housing and for other “operational” purposes...
I have to close with a quote from retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two time Medal of Honor recipient Smedley D. Butler:
"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."


  1. No comments? Are comments disabled for this post, Stan? I have a comment: why is this not a surprise?

    1. It's not a surprise because it was known years ago. Here's a report from the Guardian in 2007 -


      "The US flew nearly $12bn in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent.

      The staggering scale of the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve has been graphically laid bare by a US congressional committee.

      In the year after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 nearly 281 million notes, weighing 363 tonnes, were sent from New York to Baghdad for disbursement to Iraqi ministries and US contractors. Using C-130 planes, the deliveries took place once or twice a month with the biggest of $2,401,600,000 on June 22 2004, six days before the handover."

      More at the link if you want to ruin your entire day.

  2. Thanks, Stan the Man, this didn't ruin my day because it wasn't MY taxes ( I'm Australian). Is it possible that this money, or at least most of it, was simply printed for the purpose, without having the real value, with watermarks, etc, that cash printed for the US economy would have? It could be the equivalent of counterfeit? Who in Iraq would know or care among the people the paper money was ultimately given to?

    What ruins my day is the other story on that webpage about a five year old boy in Kentucky who was given a rifle, a real one, for his birthday and managed to kill his sister with it... All power to the NRA, I don't say! Or perhaps it is illegal to give guns to kids in Kentucky? What must the mother be feeling, assuming it was the gift idea of the father?

    1. " What must the mother be feeling..."

      I saw the story and decided not to blog it. I haven't seen a comment from the mother, but this was the comment from the grandmother:

      "It was God's will. It was her time to go, I guess," she told WLEX. "I just know she's in heaven right now and I know she's in good hands with the Lord."

      There have been some other incidents recently:

      "In early April, a 4-year-old boy in Tennessee shot and killed a 48-year-old woman, and just days later, 6-year-old Brandon Holt was killed in New Jersey after being shot in the head by his 4-year-old playmate."

      No Darwin Awards to be given here, because they are only granted to people who remove themselves from the gene pool, not to people who remove others.

  3. You might find this hard to believe but without having read the grandmother's comment that you reproduced above, when I sent an email this morning to some people about this story, I wrote this:

    "Perhaps it is illegal to give guns to children in the US. Perhaps not. Either way, if this gift idea was the father's, you can imagine what the mother must feel. Of course, it is all God's Will to some people. God just wanted the little girl up in Heaven."

    This final sentence was, of course, my assumption about what those people might say. And it turns out, in fact, that someone did say it. I guess they don't want to put the blame on the people who thought it was okay to give real guns to real children. The mother is probably in a state of nervous collapse and completely unable to face any of the hungry paparazzi and reporters in the modern media world. Who could blame her? It is probably the same for the father. He could well feel suicidal.

    There is still a Darwin Award potential in theory, since the parents, in giving such a dangerous gift, have removed the possibility for the now-dead girl to continue passing on their genes. That can now only occur through the son.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. On a related tangent, former DEA Agent Michael Levine would often fondly relate how he would just be about to put the cuffs on a major drug king pin after years of active, deep under cover investigation- only to have a suit from the CIA burst through the door in the last second like something from a bad movie to inform him he couldn't do that because that bad guy just happened to be working for them. It happened so many times he quit the agency in disgust.


  5. Guess the CIA has never heard the phrase, "the best government money can buy." Then again, the CIA seems to miss an awful lot going on around it.

  6. Unfortunately, this is SOP (standard operating procedure) for the CIA and their brethren in the intelligence apparatus of the US.


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