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Afghan War Is a Racket

Guest Tom Scully

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Guest Tom Scully

Limited hang out version, written by our government under NY Times bylines:


Losses at Afghan Bank Could Be $900 Million


Published: January 30, 2011

Former NY Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins left the NY Times in January and provides the actual details in this article in the New Yorker


January 31, 2011

Letter from Kabul: The Great Afghan Bank Heist

Posted by Dexter Filkins

...Now American officials say that Zakhilwal was one of dozens of Afghan leaders and businessmen who, collectively, accepted tens of millions of dollars in gifts and bribes—some sources say as much as a hundred million dollars—from executives at Kabul Bank. The scandal is perhaps the most far-reaching in the nine years since Karzai took power....

...The larger fear, at least among some American officials, is that the Obama Administration will decide to do nothing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was briefed on the investigation in January. But the findings are considered so sensitive that almost no one—generals, diplomats, the investigators themselves—is willing to talk about it publicly. After months of sparring with the Karzai administration, the Obama Administration, in its public rhetoric, appears to be relegating the issue of corruption to a lower tier of concern, despite the widespread belief that the corruption in Karzai’s government degrades its reputation and helps fuel recruitment for the Taliban insurgency. “We have to work with these people,” the senior NATO officer told me. ...

...As with so many other things in Afghanistan, the official record is nearly worthless. Records filed by the Karzai campaign indicate that it spent only two million dollars, and officials at the Afghan Independent Election Commission said they could not retrieve records of individual contributions.

When it comes to money—and particularly American money—allies and enemies often seem interchangeable. When American diplomats set up the Threat Finance Cell, in 2008, they charged it with severing the links between insurgents and their financing, much of which is believed to have come from drugs. Instead, they found that the lines that connected the Taliban and the drug smugglers often ran through the Afghan government. When American investigators started examining a particular Islamic charity across the border in Pakistan for giving money to insurgents, they discovered that its director also maintained close ties to Afghan leaders.

At Kabul Bank, according to a Western official familiar with the investigation, records show that Ruhullah, the head of a private security company and an ally of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the President’s half brother, transferred money into accounts believed to be controlled by the Taliban. (Ruhullah did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.) Ahmed Wali Karzai himself, the head of the provincial council in Kandahar, has long been suspected of siphoning profits from the drug trade. Ahmed Wali Karzai has steadfastly denied such links. “People think it’s the Taliban versus the Afghan government, but, I’m telling you, the Afghans just don’t see it that way,” an American investigator told me last year. “The Afghans look at this war very differently than we do.”...

According to several current and former Afghan officials, during the 2009 campaign Kabul Bank and Karzai’s reëlection machine became nearly interchangeable. Afghans who served in Karzai’s government say the more likely contribution from Kabul Bank was between eight and fourteen million dollars—and that it kept on doling out money even after the election, which Karzai finally won, in November, 2009. At the time, election monitors declared that about a million ballots cast for Karzai were fraudulent...

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