Friday, August 1, 2008

The Sword of Allah, Part 5

We continue from Part 4 reviewing Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?:

Then it all began to unravel.

In May 2007, Anthony Harriman, the senior director for Afghanistan at the National Security Council, in order to ensure the strategy paper would be executed, decided to take it to the Deputies Committee — a group of cabinet deputy secretaries led by Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, whom President Bush had appointed his "war czar" — which had the power to make the document official U.S. policy. Harriman asked me to start developing an unclassified version for public release.

Almost immediately, the Pentagon bureaucracy — particularly the South Asia office — made an about-face. First, they resisted bringing the paper to the deputies. When that effort failed (largely because of unexpected support for the plan from new field commanders like Gen. Dan McNeill, who saw the narcotics-insurgency nexus and were willing to buck their Pentagon minders), the Pentagon bureaucrats tried to prevent the release of an unclassified version to the public. Indeed, two senior Pentagon officials threatened me with professional retaliation if we made the unclassified document public. When we went ahead anyway, the Pentagon leaked the contents of the classified version to Peter Gilchrist, a British general posted in Washington. Defense Department officials were thus enlisting a foreign government to help kill U.S. policy — a policy that implicitly recognized that the Pentagon's "sequencing" approach had failed and that the Defense Department would have to get more involved in fighting the narcotics trade.

The plan that might win the war in Afghanistan, and that would certainly cut back the amount of heroin flooding into Russia, Europe and even America's Midwest, was killed by Pentagon bureaucrats.

In this context, let's consider a quote from Sibel Edmonds, which I had reproduced already in Part 1, from Cracking the Case: An Interview With Sibel Edmonds by Scott Horton, August 22, 2005:

SH: I want to get to your appearance on Democracy Now! earlier in the week, referring to officials at the State Department, you used the word "treason." And I wonder whether this is specifically referring to the Sept. 11 attacks and whether you have information that indicates complicity on the part of American elites who are part of these semi-legit organizations that funded Sept. 11, or are we talking seven degrees of Kevin Bacon here?

SE: Again, it's hard to talk about this around the gag order, but this is what I have been saying for the past three years, that's why I refer to the transcript of CBS 60 Minutes. These people who call themselves Americans and these people are using their position, their official position within these agencies -- some of them in the Department of Defense, some of them in the Department of State -- and yet, what they are doing with their position, with their influence is against the United States' national security, it's against the best interests of its people, and that is treason. Be it giving information to those that are either quasi-allies -- and I would underline quasi, who one day will be another al-Qaeda -- and who are already are engaged in activities that are damaging to our country, its security and its interests -- and that is treason. So that's what I was referring to. And what would you call someone who, let's say if they were to go after Douglas Feith, and if they were to establish that Douglas Feith with his access to information, willingly, intentionally used the information he had and gave it to those that would one day use it or maybe right now are using that information against the United States. Would you call that treason?

SH: Well, if it's an overt act to benefit an American enemy then yes, that's treason.

SE: Correct, and I as I said, those lines are so blurry because there are certain countries that we call allies but I wouldn't call them allies, these people are, these countries are, quasi-allies.

SH: Okay, I'm going to go ahead and name some people whom I suspect inside the State Department and the Pentagon, and I suppose you won't be able to answer affirmative or negative on any of these, but I'm very curious when I read about this kind of corruption going on in the State Department, I immediately think of John Bolton and David Wurmser. Do those names mean anything to you?

SE: Well, first of all, I'm not going to answer that question at all, but also you should pay attention to the fact that some of these people have been there for a while, and some of these people had their roots in there even in the mid-1990s.

SH: So more career officials rather than political appointees.

SE: Or maybe a mixture of both.

Returning to Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?:

Gilchrist told me that the plan was unacceptable to Britain. Britain, apparently joined by Sweden (which has fewer than 500 troops in a part of the country where there is no poppy cultivation), sent letters to Karzai urging him to reject key elements of the U.S. plan. By the time Wood and Secretary Rice pressed Karzai for more aggressive action, Karzai told Rice that because some people in the U.S. government did not support the plan, and some allies did not support it, he was not going to support it, either. An operations-center assistant, who summarized the call for me over my car phone just after it occurred, made an uncharacteristic editorial comment: "It was not a good call, ambassador."

Even more startling, it appeared that top Pentagon officials knew nothing about the changing nature of the drug problem or about the new plan. When, through a back channel, I briefed the under secretary of defense for intelligence, James Clapper, on the relationship between drugs and the insurgency, he said he had "never heard any of this." Worse still, Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified to Congress in December 2007 that we did not have a strategy for fighting drugs in Afghanistan. I received a quick apology from the Pentagon counterdrugs unit, which sent a memo to Gates informing him that we actually did have a strategy.

This dissension was, I believe, music to Karzai's ears. When he convened all 34 Afghan provincial governors in Kabul in September 2007 (I was a "guest of honor"), he made antidrug statements at the beginning of his speech, but then lashed out at the international community for wanting to spray his people's crops and giving him conflicting advice. He got a wild ovation. Not surprising — since so many in the room were closely tied to the narcotics trade. Sure, Karzai had Taliban enemies who profited from drugs, but he had even more supporters who did.

That pretty much nails it. While both sides benefit from the heroin trade, "our" side benefits more, it seems.

Karzai was playing us like a fiddle: the U.S. would spend billions of dollars on infrastructure improvement; the U.S. and its allies would fight the Taliban; Karzai's friends could get rich off the drug trade; he could blame the West for his problems; and in 2009 he would be elected to a new term.

Why does the U.S. have to fight the Taliban to support this guy?

There are some real differences we have with the Taliban -- things like the status of women in society, and so on.

Once we get past that though, I'm wondering if the U.S. shouldn't side with the Taliban against Karzai and Al Qaeda (with whom the Taliban don't have the best of relations, and who seem to traffic heroin with far more gusto than the Taliban).

This is not just speculation, even when you stick with unclassified materials. In September 2007, The Kabul Weekly, an independent newspaper, ran a blunt editorial laying out the issue: "It is obvious that the Afghan government is more than kind to poppy growers.... [It] opposes the American proposal for political reasons. The administration believes that it will lose popularity in the southern provinces where the majority of opium is cultivated. They're afraid of losing votes. More than 95 percent of the residents of ... the poppy growing provinces — voted for President Karzai." The editorial recommended aerial eradication. That same week, the first vice president of Afghanistan, Ahmad Zia Massoud, wrote a scathing op-ed article in The Sunday Telegraph in London: "Millions of pounds have been committed in provinces including Helmand Province for irrigation projects and road building to help farmers get their produce to market. But for now this has simply made it easier for them to grow and transport opium.... Deep-rooted corruption ... exists in our state institutions." The Afghan vice president concluded, "We must switch from ground-based eradication to aerial spraying."

The trouble is, the corruption isn't just in Kabul -- nor is the rest of it found in Washington. It goes to London, Islamabad, Dubai and many other places in the world, as well.

(Of course, in some of these places, it isn't really "corruption" -- it's just how they do business.)

Stay tuned to Stop Islamic Conquest as The Sword of Allah continues!

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