Dexter Filkins’ Busy Week

Dexter Filkins’ story reporting that a top, corrupt, Hamid Karzai aide is on the CIA payroll is not, by itself, all that interesting.

Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for the National Security Council, appears to have been on the payroll for many years, according to officials in Kabul and Washington. It is unclear exactly what Mr. Salehi does in exchange for his money, whether providing information to the spy agency, advancing American views inside the presidential palace, or both.

But read it in conjunction with Filkins’ other two stories this week. His week started, after all, with the equally unsurprising story that Abdul Ghani Baradar’s capture some months ago may have been orchestrated by Pakistan’s ISI to prevent peace negotiations between Karzai’s government and the Taliban. That story relies on both Pakistani officials boasting of their ploy, Afghan officials explaining how they attempted to negotiate peace, and a Pakistani spiritual leader talking about his role in the attempted negotiations. It includes the allegation–made by a former Afghan official and a NATO official–that Ahmed Wali Karzai had met with Baradar. But perhaps most interesting for our purposes is this passage:

Some American officials still insist that Pakistan-American cooperation is improving, and deny a central Pakistani role in Mr. Baradar’s arrest. They say the Pakistanis may now be trying to rewrite history to make themselves appear more influential. It was American intellgence that led to Mr. Baradar’s capture, an American official said.

“These are self-serving fairy tales,” the official said. “The people involved in the operation on the ground didn’t know exactly who would be there when they themselves arrived. But it certainly became clear, to Pakistanis and Americans alike, who we’d gotten.”

Other American officials suspect the C.I.A. may have been unwittingly used by the Pakistanis for the larger aims of slowing the pace of any peace talks.

That is, among Filkins’ American sources, one side denies Pakistan would be so tricky with the US (read, the CIA). That person calls the entire story “self-serving fairy tales.” And the other side “suspect[s] the CIA may have been unwittingly used by the Pakistanis.”

That is, among Filkins’ American sources, this story is a debate over whether the CIA is incompetent or not.

Now move to Tuesday’s story. The headline reports another case of civilian killings by vaguely described “special forces.”

Details were sketchy, but the governor of Tala Wa Barfak, a district in Baghlan Province, said the Afghans had been killed in the village of Naik early Sunday by what appeared to have been a raid carried out by special forces.

The governor, Mohammed Ismail, said a group of tribal elders he had sent to the village had returned with details. Among the dead were two women and a child, he said. Six of the dead were found in Naik, and two more villagers were found later in a field farther away, he said.

“It was a cruel act against the civilians,” he said.

Witnesses said the raid began Sunday at 2 a.m., when a number of helicopters descended on Naik. Groups of commandos entered a pair of houses, where the gunfire began, the witnesses said.

So a story of “special forces” apparently fucking up again, along with some context on how counterproductive such fuck-ups are. Curiously, though, this Filkins story (truly, this has been a very busy week) also reports a small group of Taliban fighters turning in their arms.

Also in northern Afghanistan, a group of 21 Taliban fighters surrendered their weapons and gave up fighting last week, officials said Tuesday. The surrender offered a glimpse of what Afghan and American officials hope might one day grow into a larger movement.

The fighters, led by a Taliban commander named Mullah Obeidi, gathered Friday at a government building in Muqoor, a district in Badghis Province, and promised to fight no more. Each of the erstwhile fighters received a “re-integration certificate” and congratulations from several hundred tribal elders who had gathered to celebrate.

This balances the fuck-up of the special forces against success of the strategy the Barader capture was supposed to thwart–the formation of an Afghan peace without Pakistani involvement. Of special note, one of the fighters described giving up the fight when he realized his instructions–coming from Pakistani advisors–did not serve the interests of Afghanistan.

His commander, Mr. Obeidi — as well as Taliban advisers who had traveled from Pakistan — urged him to attack construction crews upgrading the national highway. The road runs through Badghis and links the province to the rest of Afghanistan.“‘If you see the engineers or the laborers, try your best to kill them,’ ” Mr. Karim said. “This is what our Pakistani advisers were telling us.”

So to follow-up the story on Pakistan’s apparent role in thwarting efforts to get Taliban fighters to turn over their arms, a former Taliban fighter blames the Pakistanis for anti-Afghan advice.

See how these themes keep repeating across these stories?

Which brings us back to the shocking! news that two people close to Karzai, one of them the brother alleged to have met with Barader in Filkins’ earlier story, have been getting payments from the CIA. There’s actually some very interesting details about the investigation into Afghanistan’s payment courier system, New Ansari, which has been key to the export of billions out of Afghanistan (I hope to return to this). But there is, of course, discussion of how American sources are split over how central the fight against corruption should be in our overall Afghan strategy.

The ties underscore doubts about how seriously the Obama administration intends to fight corruption here. The anticorruption drive, though strongly backed by the United States, is still vigorously debated inside the administration. Some argue it should be a centerpiece of American strategy, and others say that attacking corrupt officials who are crucial to the war effort could destabilize the Karzai government.

The Obama administration is also racing to show progress in Afghanistan by December, when the White House will evaluate its mission there. Some administration officials argue that any comprehensive campaign to fight corruption inside Afghanistan is overly ambitious, with less than a year to go before the American military is set to begin withdrawing troops.

“Fighting corruption is the very definition of mission creep,” one Obama administration official said.

Others in the administration view public corruption as the single greatest threat to the Afghan government and the American mission; it is the corrupt nature of the Karzai government, these officials say, that drives ordinary Afghans into the arms of the Taliban.


“Corruption matters to us,” a senior Obama administration official said. “The fact that Salehi may have been on our payroll does not necessarily change any of the basic issues here.”

So after stories about who is doing more damage, special forces or credulous CIA, the debate shifts to whether it is more important to crack down on the corruption within Karzai’s government–even if it means cracking down on CIA’s key assets–or whether we have to deal with corruption because that’s the way of the world.

Boy, Dexter Filkins sure has had an interesting week cataloging the sniping within American strategy, huh? Mind you, I’m not complaining about Filkins’ reporting (though his descriptions of anonymous sources doesn’t seem to comply with the NYT’s policy on identifying the motives for these anonymous leaks–it’s sure be useful to readers if he’d place his sources a little better, because no one on the inside is really fooled by these anonymous citations).

But he does seem to be the focus of a lot of competing leaks of late.

  1. profmarcus says:

    dexter filkins has been kicking around afghanistan since the whole ugly mess started… he’s been there almost as long as jean mackenzie who is now writing for global post…

    i started working on short-term assignments in afghanistan in early 2008… i met both the karzai brothers, mahmoud and wali, and they’re both slicker than new york cream cheese… i honestly think both of them would like to see their country shape up but neither wants to lift a finger to do so if it means any diminution of their own considerable personal fortunes…

    that the cia is bankrolling one or more of karzai’s closest aides would be surprising to who exactly…? as we’ve come to know, the super-rich elites that pull all of our strings have zero interest in seeing a war – any war – come to a close… they’re going to do everything possible to keep the money machine going full blast even if it means propping up the taliban, winking and looking the other way at massive corruption, de facto backing the drug trade, pretending the pakistani isi supports the “public” u.s. agenda, or flat-out lying and telling the truth- and news context-starved american public that being there is critical for our “national interests”… what a load of bollocks…

    dexter of course has to write for an nyt audience and so his insights are watered down considerably to meet the high standards of nyt “journalism”… personally, i’d like to spend a long evening with him over a good dinner in kabul like i’ve done with jean several times… i doubt i would come away with a standard nyt experience…

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    Let’s see if I’ve got this right:

    1) The CIA was tricked.

    2) The special forces were fed bad info.

    3) The taliban were tricked.

    And it’s Pakistan with the joybuzzer every time. We’re sending them how much money?

    Boxturtle (And we’re likely providing the joy buzzers)

  3. Leen says:

    WaPo”whether providing information to the spy agency, advancing American views inside the presidential palace, or both”

    Christine Amanpour’s interview with Karzai about this issue and many others on Sundays “This Week” was sure worth the watch. Karzai seemed to be objecting to the way in which Salehi was arressted.

    “Also in northern Afghanistan, a group of 21 Taliban fighters surrendered their weapons and gave up fighting last week, officials said Tuesday. The surrender offered a glimpse of what Afghan and American officials hope might one day grow into a larger movement.

    The fighters, led by a Taliban commander named Mullah Obeidi, gathered Friday at a government building in Muqoor, a district in Badghis Province, and promised to fight no more. Each of the erstwhile fighters received a “re-integration certificate” and congratulations from several hundred tribal elders who had gathered to celebrate.”


    Have hammered the question of what happens to Taliban members now if they surrender on the Diane Rehm show, Talk of the Nation, C-span where ever else I have been able to get through. After the “Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death” (documentary on this massacre of surrendered Taliban members in 2001, the only journalist who aired this documentary was Amy Goodman) why would any Taliban member even think about surrendering to forces who allowed this massacre to happen and then swept it under the rug? Would you surrender to forces that allowed this to happen and then did not even acknowledge it.

    On Monday I was able to ask Major General Ward (in Afghanistan) on C spans Washington Journal about what happens to surrendered Taliban members now? Brought up the Afghan Massacre and how it was dealt with or not dealt with. He did not deny that this massacre happenned but went into how they were trying to “move forward, next chapter” chorus.

    I ask the question at 24:41 (Kathleen/Athens Ohio)

    Cspans Washington Journal/Monday

    “Maj. Gen. Michael Ward, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, Dpty. Commanding General – Police”

    Major General Michael Ward, Deputy Commanding General-Police of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan discussed the U.S. and NATO forces training the Afghanistan national police, security forces and Afghan border police.

  4. BayStateLibrul says:

    On Tuesday next,

    Obama should

    (1) tell the American folks we are leaving Iraq ahead of schedule

    (2) tell the electorate that he is canning the CIA as dysfunctional.

    (3) tell the left and right that he is replacing the SecDef, ahead of his 2011 departure date, and that his new cabinet member will be Senator Feingold

    (4) announce that he will not be running for Prez in 2012…

    (5) announce that his Afghanistan Plan is not worth shit, and he will never, never again listen to the Forces on the Ground.

    (6) announce that he will spend the final two years of his Presidency on

    domestic problems, and replace the SecTreas with Kudlow and Kramer…

    He came to his senses on Martha’s Vineyard having imbibed a few too many

    “Dark and Stormies”

    • Siun says:

      More disinfo and spin. Note the “don’t need the US” source is simply a “security official” and that the Yemeni government is a mess but clearly does not want to add “US lackey” to it’s public profile. Whether the Yemeni govt has the ability to tell the US to get out (this never seems to work) or whether they are happy to have the big guns as they try to put down two rebellious regions is hard to judge. Not so hard to judge is the timing of the CIA announcement that Yemen is our biggest security threat – right after Amnesty International catalogued the ways the US was violating international law in Yemen (and how the Yemeni govt was a human rights horror).

      • BoxTurtle says:

        That was my take as well. Note also the word “increased”, meaning that whatever we’re currently doing is just fine.

        Otoh, Yemen may have come to the conclusion that everybody but ObamaLLP has: The CIA is a bunch of screwups. They may have decided that we’d do more harm than good. Or they may simply be negociating for more money.

        Boxturtle (Might not be able to wait til Dec for the Catfood commission. We’ve got a lot of despots to bribe)

      • papau says:

        I agree – everything on foreign policy/CIA in the media must be read with a container of salt. Indeed “CIA screw ups” does not fit those I know to be in some authority in the CIA (one of the rules is you never discuss the CIA or foreign policy with them so once you find out their job – you just observe – and they are smart capable people).

        But the new hires post 2000 (there have been massive retirements in the CIA and FBI) seem poorly trained – for reasons I am not sure about I get a 60 day group of folks watching me now and then – last time in 2004. That event was as poorly done as a 67 one where I was told about the exercise by both the CIA and the FBI because of a job offer. It is likely I am not worthy of the better trained folks, but it was unsettling to see how poorly the 2004 event was run. I hope it was just FBI doing some training.

        So as to planning and indeed important execution, I do not buy “stupid CIA” – if ICI is allowed as long a rope as it seems, there is a reason that makes sense to someone. Perhaps the Reagan idea of forgetting about making friends – just pay them off (which worked in Iraq and was called the “surge”) is now the guiding theme of all things CIA? I recall Rome going this route toward the end.

        • KenMuldrew says:

          Smart, capable people screw up all the time, in all walks of life. There are bureaucratic forces at work that are far beyond any individual’s control that wreak havoc on the best laid plans. And smart people still make mistakes, far more often than we would like, even when they are doing simple things. With complex tasks that may involve novel situations, mistakes and actions that look foolish in hindsight are inevitable. The CIA is just as vulnerable to these problems as the Post Office.

  5. alank says:

    The CIA, by rights, deserves the credit for incompetence in intelligence gathering many times over. The Pakistani version of events probably aligns better with the truth of the matter.

    • Leen says:

      And what about administrations that purposely out an undercover CIA agent? Or the Office of Special Plans, office of Net Asssessment, White HOuse Iraq Group who undermined CIA assessments about WMD’s in Iraq

  6. TarheelDem says:

    US national security policy has been fuzzing up who exactly is the “enemy” over which we must have “victory”. First is was al-Quaeda, the folks who provided planning and material support for the attack that destroyed the World Trade Center, killed 3000, blew a hole in the side of the Pentagon and killed a number of DoD workers and military, used airliners as weapons, which killed another 600-800 people.

    Then in order to “root out” al-Quaeda, there needed to be a war of occupation of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban government, who provided protection and cover for al-Quaeda. But it turns out that the Taliban is a fragmented movement, not an organized group.

    Then after the fuck-up at Tora-Bora, it was the Pakistani Taliban that were providing cover for al-Quaeda who became the enemy and the Afghan Taliban were left to regroup as the US focused on Iraq. But the Taliban that regrouped continued to be a fragmented movement. And it turns out that Pakistani Taliban are a fragmented movement as well.

    And someone has known for some time that the Pakistani ISI was using some of the fragments of the Taliban to ensure that neither Russia, China, Iran, nor India gained a diplomatic toehold in Afghanistan. Because the CIA trained them and used them against the Soviet Union. And the Pakistanis trained them using US military assistance funds. And no one figured out that US occupation and modernization of Afghanistan might be threatening to some of the factions within the Pakistani ISI and military? So then the ISI, or the Pakistani military, or Pakistan itself becomes the enemy?

    The geniuses of the Bush and Obama administrations had a way to deal with Pakistan. They used drones to attack supposed al-Quaeda locations in Pakistan, which because of poor intelligence or sheer recklessness killed civilians and brought fragments of the Pakistani Taliban to the point of carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan, even attacking the Pakistani military. And not surprisingly, the Pakistani military responded with a campaign to root out those fragments of the Taliban and any foreign fighters they were sheltering. By clearing out foreign fighters, the US no longer has any security interest in carrying out its own attacks in Pakistan. That does not mean that Pakistan is abandoning the use of other fragments of the Taliban to ensure that Afghanistan remains friendly and dependent on Pakistan.

    So the US and Pakistan have a common interest in eliminating foreign fighters, presumed to be associated with al Quaeda from Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Pakistan has little interest in seeing the Taliban crushed and a modernizing Karzai government having control of Afghanistan’s future. And US policymakers have not figured out this nuanced support by Pakistan?

    Isn’t it time for the US to accept that the Taliban is not necessarily its enemy aside from the current occupation of Afghanistan? And that political accommodation between the Karzai government, the Northern Alliance, and the major fragments of the Taliban is essential to peace in Afghanistan and protection of Afghanistan from further foreign meddling.

    And isn’t it clear from how easy it was to discover that Karzai’s aide was a CIA contact that not only is the CIA incompetent in choosing human intelligence assets but also that the CIA is increasingly irrelevant in an intelligence community dominated by the various DoD intelligence operations? And that bureaucratic turf battles in the US intelligence community might be undermining US ability to choose its national security actions wisely? And might be exposing the US to other dangers. Adding the DNI layer has not helped other than providing guaranteed employment for a thousand or more people.

  7. ondelette says:

    Not surprising. This has been happening off and on with Pakistan since round about Benazir Bhutto’s first term in office. The biggest problem is that the U.S. and many others in the club refuse to believe there are countries in the post-WWII set that actually have their own interests and designs and goals. India made it explicit when it created the Non-Aligned Movement, not that Sukarno hadn’t made it explicit before that. But try as we might, we just can’t believe we aren’t in control of everything, we aren’t to blame for everything, we don’t know everything, and that other countries might have goals we haven’t thought of. So we screw up and screw up and screw up. But at least the Dexter Filkinses of the world are kept busy.

  8. Bustednuckles says:

    I would be tickled pink if they spent more resources tackling the corruption in our own government.

    Pakistan has been playing both sides since I was in diapers.
    Why they are just now admitting this publicly is just more propaganda trying to justify a failed foreign policy and another failed war.

    • bobschacht says:

      Pakistan has been playing both sides since I was in diapers.

      Lemeseehere. The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947, so that means you’re about 55 years old or so? *g*

      The birth of Pakistan was warmed by the embers of the Great Game that was temporarily cooling off, as traditional rivals Russia, Great Britain, and the US had temporarily become allies against the German-Japanese threat. The founders of Pakistan knew from Day One that its survival depended on playing off against each other the Great Powers who had long-standing conflicting strategic interests in the region, despite their temporary alliance in WW-II.

      Their own Great Game, however, is dominated by their equally long rivalry with India. Their view of Afghanistan is deeply colored by what they think India is up to– something that the American press is barely aware of. India? Plotting in Afghanistan? Who knew? The American Press is woefully ignorant and has no clue.

      Bob in AZ

  9. jcc2455 says:

    Just imagine what the headlines would be if Gen. Jones or one of his top staffers were to be discovered to be on the payroll of Mexico, Russia, China or even, say, Afghanistan. Spy! Traitor!

    h/t to Scott Horton over at Harpers for picking up on this, and pointing out that taking bribes from a foreign government to do its bidding when you are a public official is itself the most deeply corrupt act imaginable, and that the US has absolutely no moral authority to be involved with rooting out corruption by Salehi because we are guilty of corrupt dealings with him ourselves.

  10. klynn says:

    The posting of the three articles has me asking, “What is CIA SAD (Special Activities Division) really doing?”

  11. lakeeffectsnow says:

    America’s Corruption Racket in Central Asia

    American policy towards corruption in Central Asia is thus exposed as schizophrenic. On the one hand the United States purports to be resolutely opposed to corruption and prepared to spend enormous sums to expose and prosecute it in the interest of transparency, good government, and saving the taxpayers the expense of corrupt contracts. FBI agents and prosecutors are being moved into the field and are pursuing an unprecedented number of prosecutions in US courts. But on the other hand, it is increasingly apparent that the United States is itself one of the most staggeringly corrupt actors in the region, willing to slide hundreds of millions of dollars under the carpet to foreign government officials to induce them to do Washington’s bidding, on occasion doing this so crudely that it undermines the credibility of the government it has picked as an ally. Indeed, twice now American bribery operations targeting a foreign head of state helped provoke revolutions that toppled a government. Pursuing both of these policies at the same time exposes the United States to well-warranted charges of hypocrisy. Policy-makers in Washington urgently need to settle the question: on which side of the corruption divide do they want to stand?

  12. fatster says:

    Kucinich: Afghanistan is ‘spy versus spy carnival of corruption’

    ‘”The tragedy is rapidly becoming a farce,” he added. “They call it intelligence, but it is actually an innovative way to steal tens of billions of dollars from the U.S. taxpayers.”‘


  13. Mary says:

    Not moving, but I’ve had a busy week too (and have just switched carriers and lost voicemails and am overwhelmed by a Droid X). Still, there is so much that goes through my mind Re: the Filkins bits and a few others I have throw some ramble at this post.

    Cue back to just a bit over a year ago. That’s when Obama was being a blinking Bambi and claiming that he’d never really heard all that much about the Dostum shipping container killings and he was going to order up a new, “real” investigation. July 15 or so, 2009

    U.S. President Barack Obama says he is collecting facts about the killing of up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners in November 2001, reportedly by fighters of a U.S.-backed warlord in northern Afghanistan, General Abdul Rashid Dostum.

    Obama says he only recently became aware that the incident has never been properly investigated.

    claims the Bush administration repeatedly discouraged efforts to investigate the killings because Dostum was on the payroll of the CIA and because Dostum’s militia forces were working closely with U.S. Special Forces against the Taliban

    “The international community knew exactly what it should have protected and why. And it didn’t do so at all,” he says. “We do know there were American handlers with General Dostum at General Dostum’s headquarters. So there is absolutely a need for the U.S. military and the U.S. government to find out what its forces were doing.”

    “Among the issues that were a mystery to us were whether the Americans who were with General Dostum were Special Forces or with the CIA or another branch of the [U.S.] government.

    James Risen had done a pretty good story July 10, 2009 about the killings and US inaction.

    A couple of interesting bits to me re: today’s Filkins (and don’t forget Marzetti) piece were the vagueness on the years of CIA payrolling Salehi (as in – from well before 9/11 perhaps?) and the info that

    He is a former interpreter for Abdul Rashid Dostum, the ethnic Uzbek with perhaps the most ruthless reputation among all Afghan warlords.

    I also was really taken by the fact that Filkins even put this in (although I laughed out loud when I read it):

    There has been no suggestion that Mr. Salehi’s ties to the C.I.A. played a role in his release; rather, officials say, it is the fear that Mr. Salehi knows about corrupt dealings inside the Karzai administration.

    emph added

    hehehe Considering the handful of stories I’ve seen since the arrest and release and the complete and total emphasis in all of them that it was bc of Karzai corruption and Karzai’s fear over what he would spill, it’s fun to see someone at least mention, if only to knock it down, the fact that someone like Salehi has SOOOOOOOOOOO much the CIA isn’t going to want investigated.

    So here you have Dostum, who was CIA bankrolled from before the Karzai gov being established (although he’d been aligned with the Soviets during their invasion) and his former “interpreter” who has been on the CIA payroll for some unspecified number of years. You have Obama, a year ago, saying in response to the Risen article (and while Dostum was still exiled to Turkey) that he was going to look into the shipping container killings (ok – not that he’s a credible source, but he did say it).

    Almost immediately thereafter, though, Dostum returns high on the hog to Afghanistan. Looks like someone told CIA boy not to worry about backlookers. During a period of time when the CIA was paying 100% of the Afghan intel payroll too. And as happens with Obama, his commitment to investigate fizzled.

    Well – at least to investigate murder and mayhem. Oddly (or not) a few months after Risen’s story stirring the Dostum pot (and other stories too, but just to keep a narrative going) Obama’s DOJ (the one that can’t investigate murder, torture, child disappearances, how al-Libi ended up back in Libya, evidence destruction, etc. worth a damn) as a part of its somehow-perceived-as-needed review of the Bush ear whistleblower cases, revisited a case that Bushco had let die – the investigation into Risen’s leak sources for the Merlin program in his State of Denial book.

    Risen’s 2008 subpoena expired with the term of the grand jury. Media watchers and intelligence officials presumed that the Merlin investigation would go the way of most fruitless searches. But after reviewing leftover leak cases from the Bush administration, the Obama Justice Department decided to revive this one. In April of this year, Risen received another subpoena to appear before the grand jury in Alexandria.

    Why the government chose to pursue the case again remains unclear.

    But what is known is that the Merlin leak presents some unusual circumstances. According to former intelligence officials with direct knowledge of the program, it was closely held within the CIA. Not many officials knew of its inner workings, so the list of potential leakers was short. That makes the government’s pursuit of Risen puzzling.

    According to one former official, the government believes it has already identified a suspect, which could make Risen’s testimony not only unnecessary but also a violation of the department’s own guidelines on media subpoenas.

    Amazing that such passive thumbsuckers on torture can be such vicious little buggers on whistleblower cases. Ok – maybe not much tie there, but the stories make me think through some of the other stories and journos involved in them.

    So back in Afghanistan, where the CIA is funding the entire Afghan intel in general, and also has/had Salehi and Dostum on payroll otherwise, Salehi takes off with Engineer Ibrahim the then dpe chief of AFghan intel, for Dubai to mee wtih Taliban leaders to explore prospects.

    Dubai – destination for 1-2.5 or so billion in cash from Afghanistan and a destination that was featuring prominently in the New Ansari investigation – and new home to Erik Prince.

  14. Mary says:

    Rambling on more

    Dubai – destination for 1-2.5 or so billion in cash from Afghanistan and a destination that was featuring prominently in the New Ansari investigation – and new home to Erik Prince

    Back in June of 2010, about when Mr. Prince was being reported to be relocating to extradition free Dubai, WaPo had this piece on New Ansari and Dubai.

    As a part of that story that was probably worked on for a bit before publishing, the picture emerges of the backing by DOJ, FBI and esp DEA during 2009 forward of the two “independent” investigative Afghani units (much more independent in concept, if not application, than the US counterparts for that matter). And one interesting thing that you get is that the US backers of the investigation units were helping out with all kinds of wiretaps – and if they were getting senior Karzai officials and members of parliament, you’d have to think they might have been getting contractors too, esp since contractors played a big role in the case that did get pushed a bit, involving Chakari the former “minister of the hajj.”

    Then, in January of 2010, boom- the Afgan investigative guys do what the DOJ has never done here in the US re: the torture scandals and black sites funding – they go after the money trail in a way they never have with, for example, the Moroccan money to torture.

    In January, Afghan authorities raided the offices of New Ansari, a firm that has served as Afghanistan’s primary link to the “hawala” money exchange system. This informal system for transferring cash overseas makes electronic tracking difficult. A second U.S. official familiar with the investigation said the firm is suspected of laundering drug money, delivering funds to insurgents and helping Afghan officials transfer tens of millions of dollars to accounts abroad.

    After the raid, wiretaps picked up conversations indicating that there had been a frantic meeting involving Karzai aides at the presidential palace. U.S. officials said members of Karzai’s administration as well as members of parliament held subsequent meetings with Aloko, pressuring him to ensure that certain New Ansari executives not be charged.

    So now guys who have been playing fast and loose are figuring out that pretty much no one has been exempt from wiretaps and the investigators have the money trails. And CIA boy Prince moves to Dubai. Ok – again probably unrelated things, but they all swirl around together as these stories get play.

    So you had a big January raid on the office that has all the money trail info on $$ to Dubai for a lot of purposes, many of the maybe illicit. As laid out in this Marzetti (and Norland) piece from earlier this week (which actually uses some on the record sources)things were rolling out in 2009 (remember when Obama was still going to investigate the shipping container killings?):

    The current turbulence traces back to the spring of 2009, when the United States Justice Department began several major initiatives to help build up the Afghan government’s anticorruption and counternarcotics law enforcement efforts, as well as an independent judiciary. To protect them from political interference, the two anticorruption task forces have their own lawyers, investigators and judges.

    This moves on to massive wiretaps, raids on the money offices shipping $$ to Dubai in January, and then, according to the Filkins story today, the trip by CIA guy Salehi and CIA guy Engineer Ibrahim to meet with Taliban in Dubai “earlier this year” Not that anyone would be sniffing around and putting out fires for anyone on the info from New Ansari raids. And Prince moves to Dubai.

    Dubai, Dubai, Dubai – what keeps nipping around when I think of Dubai. Oh yeah – the month after the New Ansari raid and a gazillion wiretaps that would very likely have had info on $$ going to Dubai for guys like drug dealers and arms dealers – an arms dealer in Dubai is assassinated by Israel.

    Someone had some kind of info that was hot enough that it got Mahmoud al-Mabhouh to change “his travel plans, leaving behind his bodyguards, for a “meeting” which may have been organised by Mossad, who had been tracking him for days before his death.”

    Anyway, going back to the Marzetti/Norland article about graft, former Clinton-admin guy Rothkopf is about as forthright as anyone.

    “The administration is engaged in a delicate balancing act in Afghanistan in which the principal objective is stability,” said David Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration official and national security specialist. “There are a couple of things they need for stability: one is government institutions that people trust and don’t want to overthrow. And the other is government institutions that are strong enough politically to survive.

    “And the calculation here is that you need Karzai for the latter and you need anticorruption for the former. The problem is that Karzai is too associated with corruption,” Mr. Rothkopf said, “so if the anticorruption efforts are too vigorous, they will lead to undermining this ally.”

    In a much less violent context, Afghanistan is Obamaco to a certain degree. Obama’s opted for all the trappings of power to bolster his gov, and he’s lost everyone’s trust along the way. He’s got the same problems domestically and abroad. He’s bet on power over trust as his stability suit.

    He’s up to his neck, now, in assassinations (many of them gone wrong) and spiraling, missionless war in AFghanistan, nothing good happening in Iraq, and all the wrong economic advisors digging more holes faster – and he’s too wedded now to the power plays to change course. He never realized that power is easier to acquire after being lost than trust.

    Anyway – throw into the mix re: Baradar the stories of the ISI also releasing two other guys picked up

    The releases occurred in January and February, officials said, around the time the ISI conducted a series of raids that led to the capture of Baradar and reportedly four other senior Taliban figures. Among them were “shadow governors” who unofficially preside over swaths of territory in Afghanistan.

    and the fact that, for some reason (or, let’s face it, lots of them) and despite sending millions and millions to Pakistan, the US isn’t sharing any satellite phone intercept technology with the guys who are supposedly on the front line vis a vis the capture of Bin Laden.

    “We are extremely dependent on the Americans for signals” intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence official said. “We have been crying for them to give us satellite telephone intercept capability. We do not have that to date.”

    Oh well, ramble done for now, without accomplishing much. But what a big ol mess of stuff is in the pot. Most of it may be unrelated, but all the pieces keep bumping up against each other, which yields some rambling spec.