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 Karzai Says Assured CIA Would Continue Delivering Bags of Cash

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PostSubject: Karzai Says Assured CIA Would Continue Delivering Bags of Cash   Sun May 05, 2013 10:56 pm

You know, it's funny how here in America we here the President and his minions talk about the cutbacks due to the sequester and how they will negatively effect the citizens here on the home front all the while they continue to pull crap like this. This should outrage every single American who hears of it. This is one of many reasons why our country is falling apart right now.

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Quote :
KABUL, Afghanistan — The C.I.A.’s station chief here met with President Hamid Karzai on Saturday, and the Afghan leader said he had been assured that the agency would continue dropping off stacks of cash at his office despite a storm of criticism that has erupted since the payments were disclosed. The C.I.A. money, Mr. Karzai told reporters, was “an easy source of petty cash,” and some of it was used to pay off members of the political elite, a group dominated by warlords.

The use of the C.I.A. cash for payoffs has prompted criticism from many Afghans and some American and European officials, who complain that the agency, in its quest to maintain access and influence at the presidential palace, financed what is essentially a presidential slush fund. The practice, the officials say, effectively undercut a pillar of the American war strategy: the building of a clean and credible Afghan government to wean popular support from the Taliban.

Instead, corruption at the highest levels seems to have only worsened. The International Monetary Fund recently warned diplomats in Kabul that the Afghan government faced a potentially severe budget shortfall partly because of the increasing theft of customs duties and officially abetted tax evasion.

On Saturday, Mr. Karzai sought to dampen the furor over the payments, describing them as one facet of the billions of dollars in aid Afghanistan receives each year. “This is nothing unusual,” he said.

He said the cash helped pay rent for various officials, treat wounded members of his presidential guard and even pay for scholarships. Mr. Karzai said that when he met with the C.I.A. station chief, “I told him because of all these rumors in the media, please do not cut all this money, because we really need it.”

“It has helped us a lot, it has solved lots of our problems,” he added.

The comments were his first in Kabul since The New York Times reported the payments last week, when he was traveling in Europe.

Yet Mr. Karzai, in offering his most detailed accounting to date of how the money had been used, probably raised as many questions as he answered.

Formal aid, for instance, is publicly accounted for and audited. The C.I.A.’s cash is not, though Mr. Karzai did say the Americans were given receipts for the money they dropped off at the presidential palace.

Asked why money that was used for what would appear to be justifiable governing and charitable expenses was handed over secretly by the C.I.A. and not routed publicly through the State Department, Mr. Karzai replied: “This is cash. It is the choice of the U.S. government.”

He added, “If tomorrow the State Department decides to give us such cash, I’d welcome that, too.”

Mr. Karzai declined to specify how much cash his office received each month, or how much it had been given by the C.I.A. so far. At his meeting with the station chief, it was made clear to him that “we are not allowed to disclose” the amount, he said.

Current and former Afghan officials who spoke before last week said the payments had totaled tens of millions of dollars since they began a decade ago.

The American Embassy in Kabul, which handles queries for the C.I.A., declined to comment.

But it was Mr. Karzai’s acknowledgment that some of the money had been given to “political elites” that was most likely to intensify concerns about the cash and how it is used.

In Afghanistan, the political elite includes many men more commonly described as warlords, people with ties to the opium trade and to organized crime, along with lawmakers and other senior officials. Many were the subjects of American-led investigations that yielded reams of intelligence and evidence but almost no significant prosecutions by the Afghan authorities.

Mr. Karzai did not address those concerns on Saturday. He instead emphasized that no one group or political faction was given special treatment.

“Yes, sometimes Afghanistan’s political elites have some needs, they have requested our help and we have helped them,” Mr. Karzai said. “But we have not spent it to strengthen a particular political movement. It’s not like that. It has been given to individuals.”

Mr. Karzai is not the first Afghan to receive money from the C.I.A., which paid warlords to fight the Taliban during the invasion in 2001 and has paid others to keep fighting.

But the payments to the president’s office appear to be on a vaster scale and to have had a wider impact, fueling the same patronage networks that American envoys, law enforcement agents and soldiers struggled unsuccessfully to dismantle.

Mr. Karzai is not believed to have personally profited. But the C.I.A. money has proved essential to his ability to govern, say current and former Afghan officials who had first described the payments. His administration is not centered on a political party or a particular ideology and instead draws strength largely from its ability to buy off warlords, lawmakers and other prominent — and potentially troublesome — Afghans.

The United States was not alone in keeping the Karzai administration awash in cash. Iran, too, made regular cash payments to the presidential palace, though Mr. Karzai said that it cut off the money after Afghanistan began negotiating a strategic partnership deal with Washington.

The British intelligence agency MI6 has given small amounts for special projects, he said, but only a fraction of what the Americans and Iranians gave.

Asked if any other countries were dropping off stacks of cash at the palace, Mr. Karzai said: “No, none. And even if they were, we wouldn’t let you know. We wouldn’t tell you that.”

News of the payments dominated the Afghan media over the past week, with lawmakers calling for an inquiry and some suggesting that taking the cash was potentially treasonous. And there have been jokes, of course. At the palace on Saturday, Afghan reporters laughed at the “C.I.A. burgers” they were served for lunch after the news conference.

Members of Congress have also raised questions about the payments. Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, wrote to President Obama last week expressing concern that they appeared to “indicate an incoherent U.S. policy toward Afghanistan,” and asking for an explanation.

“The alleged arrangements make accountability impossible and promote corruption at the top levels of the Afghan government, as well as break trust with the American taxpayer,” Mr. Corker wrote.

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