The New York Times, the CIA and Opium, and the Vast Silence

On October 28, 2009 the New York Times published a bombshell story depicting the intimate relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and Ahmed Walid Karzai, arguably the world’s kingpin drug lord, and also the brother of Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai. The fact that the same story could have been published years ago is another troubling matter. Nevertheless the article raised profound issues about what the United States is really attempting to do in central Asia.

Since numerous reports have shown that the Taliban, ostensibly one of America’s greatest enemies, profits greatly from the sale of opium and uses the proceeds to buy weapons to kill American troops, and since other abundant reports declare that Ahmed Karzai is by far the biggest purveyor of opium in the region, there is most obviously a mutual relationship between Karzai and the Taliban and the Central Intelligence Agency. The fact that Hamid Karzai has done nothing to curb the opium trade or the cozy relationship between his brother (and now his replacements) and Islamic insurgents is but one element in the rampant corruption of his regime, and without question the worst.

Why so?  According to President Obama defeating the Taliban and thereby preventing Afghanistan from becoming a haven for al Qaeda again is a vital necessity to protect American lives and maintain national security. Yet far many more American lives have been extinguished by opium and its derivative, heroin, than anything al Qaeda has thus far matched. Aside from the threat posed by HIV, or some other pathogen, nothing menaces national security more than the drug epidemic that has plagued this country since the late 1960s when a tsunami of heroin surged across the nation from its sources in Laos and Vietnam. A mountain of evidence, some of it ferreted out by a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Narcotics chaired by Senator John Kerry, documents the CIA’s long standing association with the world’s leading drug traffickers. During the “secret war” in Laos, pilots for the CIA’s contract airline, Air America, jokingly referred to themselves as “Air Opium.” Proceeds from opium sales were used to fund the top secret war waged in Laos since the U.S. Congress had appropriated only a marginal sum for the venture. So much of the substance was produced that criminal enterprises in neighboring Vietnam transformed the stuff into heroin and fed profits directly to top officials in Saigon’s government, America’s allies. Among other victims, it soon addicted many American soldiers. When the warehouses in Southeast Asia began to burst heroin “mysteriously” found its way into America’s cities and towns. (See the PBS Frontline documentary Guns, Drugs and the CIA, if you can find a copy)….

http://blogs.umb.edu/joinercenter/2011/11/07/the-new-york-times-the-cia-and-opium-and-the-vast-silence/

Transcript of “Guns, Drugs and the CIA”: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/archive/gunsdrugscia.html

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