Unless otherwise noted, all quotes here are from Cooperative Research Complete 911 Timeline Afghan/Pakistani Drug Connection (see original for links to sources):
Before 9/11, US intelligence had collected a list of potential bombing targets in Afghanistan (see Late August 1998-2001). The list is said to include 20 to 25 major drug labs and other drug-related facilities. But according to a CIA source, when the list is turned over to the US military after 9/11, the Pentagon and White House refuse to order the bombing of any of the drug-related targets. This CIA source complains, “On the day after 9/11, that target list was ready to go, and the military and the [National Security Council] threw it out the window. We had tracked these [targets] for years. The drug targets were big places, almost like small towns that did nothing but produce heroin. The British were screaming for us to bomb those targets, because most of the heroin in Britain comes from Afghanistan. But they refused.” This source believes that if the US had bombed those targets, “it would have slowed down drug production in Afghanistan for a year or more.” [Risen, 2006, pp. 154] The US will continue to avoid taking action against drug operations in Afghanistan (see February 2002).
In the next two postings on this thread at Cooperative Research on the timeline regarding the Autumn of 2001, connections are made 1) among Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the CIA, the Taliban and the narcotraffickers, and then 2) between the US allies in Afghanistan and narcotics production.
Several of the subsequent posts then discuss how narcotics production in Afghanistan fourishes openly, in some cases due to inexplicable and suspicious actions on the part of Pakistan and the US.
Interestingly, contradictory information is presented regarding the US Military's understanding of the connection between terrorism and the narcotrafficking, and its desire to combat them both together:
According to one former National Security Council official, Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith argues in a White House meeting that since counter-narcotics is not part of the war on terrorism, the Pentagon doesn’t want to get involved in it. The former official complains, “We couldn’t get [the US military] to do counter-narcotics in Afghanistan.” Author James Risen comments, “American troops were there to fight terrorists, not suppress the poppy crop, and Pentagon officials didn’t see a connection between the two. The Pentagon feared that counter-narcotics operations would force the military to turn on the very same warlords who were aiding the United States against the Taliban, and that would lead to another round of violent attacks on American troops.” [Risen, 2006, pp. 154] Immediately after 9/11, the US had decided not to bomb drug-related targets in Afghanistan and continued not to do so (see Shortly After September 11,
Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the nonprofit International Crisis Group, later says that during a trip to Afghanistan in November 2003, he is told by US military commanders and State Department officials that they are frustrated by rules preventing them from fighting Afghanistan’s booming illegal drug trade. Author James Risen notes the US military’s rules of engagement in Afghanistan states that if US soldiers discover illegal drugs they “could” destroy them, which is “very different from issuing firm rules stating that US forces must destroy any drugs discovered.” An ex-Green Beret later claims that he was specifically ordered to ignore heroin and opium when his unit discovered them on patrol. Assistant Secretary of State Bobby Charles, who fights in vain for tougher rules of engagement (see November 2004), will later complain, “In some cases [US troops] were destroying drugs, but in others they weren’t. [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld didn’t want drugs to become a core mission.” [Risen, 2006, pp. 152-162]
How do we resolve this?
Well, the second comment states that the military commanders are frustrated that they can't cut off the drugs, which are funding the enemy. The first quote, however, points to an official of the Bush Administration as saying the military doesn't want to get involved in battling the drugs.
Could it be that the military wants to do whatever it takes to win the war, but that the Bush Administration is putting constraints on them? Could it be that those constraints specifically include preventing the military from targeting the terrorists' cash cow, the heroin trade?
By now, we know that holy war is big business.
But, let's look at this from another perspective: If you have a bunch of jihadis waging holy war, then you need an army to defend against them. And, that army needs equipment, supplies, and so on. It takes money to provide all that.
A lot of money.
Counterjihad is big business, too.
But, we'll get to that soon enough....
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) is reported to be making staggering sums of money running drugs.
Vanity Fair suggests the ISI is still deeply involved in the drug trade in Central Asia. It estimates that Pakistan has a parallel drug economy worth $15 billion a year. Pakistan’s official economy is worth about $60 billion. The article notes that the US has not tied its billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan to assurances that Pakistan will stop its involvement in drugs. [Vanity Fair, 3/1/2002]
Wow! Fifteen billion a year! Equal to one-fourth of the official economy! And there's no taxes, no red tape -- just the necessary bribery and payola to operate.
You can buy a lot of jihad for $15 billion a year.
A British special forces team in Afghanistan calls in a US air strike on a drug lab. The damage leads to a 15 percent spike in heroin prices. It is unclear if US commanders knew that the proposed target was a drug lab. However, this seems to be nearly the only such strike on drug-related targets since 9/11. Shortly after 9/11, the US military decided to avoid such targets (see Shortly After September 11, 2001). The US continued to gain new intelligence on the location of drug facilities and continued not to act. Assistant Secretary of State Bobby Charles later will complain, “We had regular reports of where the labs were. There were not large numbers of them. We could have destroyed all the labs and warehouses in the three primary provinces involved in drug trafficking… in a week. I told flag officers, you have to see this is eating you alive, that if you don’t do anything by 2006 you are going to need a lot more troops in Afghanistan.” [Risen, 2006, pp. 152-162}
First of all, was the air strike a mistake? The policy was to not go after the drugs. What happened?
Or, might this lab have belonged to a rival drug cartel that didn't have the right political connections?
It's easy to be overly suspicious here.
"I told flag officers, you have to see this is eating you alive, that if you don’t do anything by 2006 you are going to need a lot more troops in Afghanistan.”
And here we are, early 2007 -- and we find we are needing a lot more troops in Afghanistan.
Haji Bashir Noorzai, reputedly Afghanistan’s biggest drug kingpin with ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, had been arrested and then released by the US in late 2001 (see Late 2001), and then ignored when he wanted to make a deal with US in 2004 (see Autumn 2004). In spring 2005, the US again contacts him and offers a deal. Author James Risen explains, “The Americans asked Noorzai to come to the United States to negotiate a deal, and to the astonishment of nearly everyone involved in the case, he agreed. Noorzai flew on a regular commercial flight to New York, where he was met by federal agents. The Bush administration was so startled that he had actually agreed to come to the United States that it was not quite sure what to do with him.” Secret talks are held in New York City, resulting in Noorzai being indicted in April 2005. “By the summer of 2005, Noorzai was in jail and was talking, but questions remained about whether the Bush administration really wanted to hear that he had to say, particularly about the involvement of powerful Afghans and Pakistanis in the heroin trade.” [BBC, 4/26/2005; Risen, 2006, pp. 152-162]
A big drug kingpin, perhaps the biggest in Afghanistan, with ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, flies to the US and turns himself in, but the Bush Administration apparently does not want to hear what he has to say.
Allegations are that the bungling was deliberate.
Sam Karmilowicz, a former security officer at the US embassy in Manila, suggests in an interview with CounterPunch magazine, that US intelligence may have failed to properly follow leads in a counterterrorism case because of a potential link to Pakistani intelligence. In September 1994, Karmilowicz allegedly received information that a Pakistani businessman with possible ties to the ISI was part of a plot to assassinate President Clinton during his November 1994 visit to Manila (see September 18-November 14, 1994). An interagency US security team that was tasked with investigating the tip ended its investigation after only a few weeks. “My experience in the Philippines shows the US government has compartmentalized information... in order to cover-up its gross incompetence or its complicity in illegal and questionable activities conducted by, or against, foreign powers,” Karmilowicz says. [CounterPunch, 3/9/2006]
Okay, you've taken the first four modules of Jihad, Inc.. Now, here's your test. It's one question, multiple choice:
Why is the United States bungling so badly not just the War on Terror, but the War on Drugs as well?
a) Gross incompetence.
b) Good old-fashioned corruption.
c) Counterjihad and counternarcotics is big business.
d) All of the above.