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November 01, 2009

The War on Drugs Dealt by People America Isn't Friends With

Deal opium and don't do what the U.S. government tells you to do? Instantaneous death from above!

The Obama Administration has also widened the scope of authorized drone attacks in Afghanistan. An August report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee disclosed that the Joint Integrated Prioritized Target List—the Pentagon’s roster of approved terrorist targets, containing three hundred and sixty-seven names—was recently expanded to include some fifty Afghan drug lords who are suspected of giving money to help finance the Taliban. These new targets are a step removed from Al Qaeda. According to the Senate report, “There is no evidence that any significant amount of the drug proceeds goes to Al Qaeda.”

Deal opium and follow orders to our satisfaction? Knock yourself out!

The inclusion of Afghan narcotics traffickers on the U.S. target list could prove awkward, some observers say, given that President Hamid Karzai’s running mate, Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, and the President’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, are strongly suspected of involvement in narcotics. Andrew Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, who has written extensively on military matters, said, “Are they going to target Karzai’s brother?”

Will this massive hypocrisy and brutality generate more than a question or two on the Sunday D.C. talk shows (if that)? Nope.

If the U.S. political class will swallow this, is there anything they won't eat? Would they make trouble if the federal government set up concentration camps on the National Mall? I'm guessing no.

AND: From George Tenet's book At the Center of the Storm:

The Agency had...been rocked by false allegations in 1996 that some of its members had been complicit in selling crack cocaine to children in California. The allegations were ludicrous, but even attempting to refute them gave legs to a lurid tale.

I like to believe he dictated that while signing off on the next delivery of cash to Ahmed Wali Karzai.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 1, 2009 09:47 AM

I like Bacevich's question.

It would really be fun to glue a fake beard on Tenet, dress him up in some tribal threads, and drop him off in Waziristan or Baluchistan with a drone hovering overhead. You know, just to watch his undoubtedly entertaining reaction. According to the recent series in the NY Times by the kidnapped journalist who escaped in Afghanistan, David Rohde, those drones hover overhead for hours, and despite their altitude people on the ground can hear them the whole time. It's apparently not relaxing to wait for a missile, which can come at any time, and unlike the drone you don't hear the missile in advance.

The "U.S. political class" already has proved their omnivore credentials many times, and far beyond anything what's on their plate right now.

Posted by: N E at November 1, 2009 10:50 AM

An exquisitely honed sense of psy-ops is probably a necessary concomitant of 'counter-insurgency' in the 21st Century.

Harper's this month has a piece by Bacevich that won't be on line for a while, but as with much of what Harper's publishes, it's about worth the price of a 'scrip...

Posted by: woody at November 1, 2009 03:29 PM

With the use of drones we seem to be slipping over the event horizon, falling into some black hole of soullessness. The descent will accelerate, gravity's rainbow the gleam in Moloch's unblinking eye.

The Sound of Empire

Raindrops on poppies and pay-offs to puppets
Bright copper pipelines exploding like muppets
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored phonies and crisp'd wedding parties
Death bells and gut smells and robotic sorties
Wild drones that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses all blown to high heaven
Phosphorus that stays on their nose like hell's leaven
Silver white people that melt into goo
These are a few of my favorite things

When The Hague bites
When the blogs sting
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad.


BTW, NE, I was going to post that identical comment. I'm starting to think you're my Doppelgänger.

Posted by: Oarwell at November 1, 2009 03:29 PM

Why thank you, Oarwell, I'm honored, especially in light of your creative writing, for which you definitely get the highest possible mark on that piece.

Posted by: N E at November 1, 2009 05:32 PM

false allegations in 1996 that some of its members had been complicit in selling crack cocaine to children in California

What a pro - look at how this gambit works: Tenet throws in "selling crack cocaine to children" to give the impression that this is the allegation at issue. How outrageous to suggest patriotic intelligence officers would sell crack to kids! But the actual allegation - even in Tenet's sentence - is "some of its members had been complicit", which is, of course, precisely the part of Gary Webb's report the Inspector General (albeit very quietly) endorsed, if we agree that covering up cocaine trafficking by your Contra allies amounts to complicity in it.

So Tenet gets away with a bald-faced lie - that the allegations of complicity were false - by throwing in the gibberish about children. Tenet can now safely claim that, as the Contras weren't specifically targetting sales at kids, his statement is technically correct. At the least, the inflammatory recasting of the claims cleverly (well, OK - with mind-numbing obviousness) misdirects the reader from the more relevant question - did the Company give a green light or even just turn a blind eye to the Contras' drug-dealing? (Of course, it's absurd to imagine they didn't do considerably more than that given their track record elsewhere.)

Posted by: weaver at November 1, 2009 08:21 PM

From the linked article.....
"When he asked, in formal correspondence, for the C.I.A.’s legal justifications for targeted killings, he says, “they blew me off."

Well, now Mr Philip Alston is not waiting to be blown off.
The US has been warned that its use of drones to target suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan may violate international law.

Imagine the UN appointing someone like Alvaro de Soto or Richard Goldstone to investigate and USA is accused of war crimes!

If I may, please send your poem to Obama. If I could write something like your poem, I certainly would!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at November 1, 2009 08:59 PM

By the way, Alfred McCoy, fine historical expert on torture and CIA drug running, has released his new book, Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Phillipines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State. I haven't finished, and space wouldn't permit a review anyway, but here's a topical quote from page 48, which examines this issue in detail in the colonial context of the Philippines:

"Among all the institutions of modern society, only intelligence agencies and crime syndicates can carry out complex financial or political operations that leave no visible trace. The CIA, 'like any other professional criminal organization,' explained a former covert operator, 'lived according to a strict code of secrecy.'"

Note the 'like any other professional criminal organization.' Someone who knew said that.

Much of our tradecraft of empire, and especially its shadowy underside, was learned in the Phillipines, and McCoy's 650 pages seem to cover it all thoroughly.

Posted by: N E at November 1, 2009 10:32 PM

This is simply a mechanism for helping to eliminate the competition, much like the FBI did with Whitey Bulger.

Posted by: fish at November 2, 2009 11:23 AM


That story reports that this guy Bulger was signed up for inmate LSD experiments in the mid 60s while in federal prison. Though in his case it was state prison, so was a fellow named Charles Manson, who learned a lot about hypnosis in the clink and really seems to have developed a new personality and, even morseso, a new skillset.

The LSD known as Orange Sunshine that made its appearance around Mansontime, including to Manson and his groupies, seems to have been qualitatively different from the earlier product that folks like Cary Grant had used under therapeutic control, for apparently beneficial effect. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love came to do business around Mansontime in 1969 with one Ronald Hadley Stark, who certainly seems to have had some CIA, or at least so later concluded an Italian magistrate in the mid 70s.

This sort of information is among the weirdest and
hardest to verify out there, but some people do analyze it with a fair degree of caution and make some interesting observations, though of course proof isn't in the realm of the possible.

What I've always wondered about, without any theories coming to mind, is the weird coincidence that Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski had dinner with Bobby Kennedy on the night of his assassination. That certainly didn't bring them good luck, did it?

Posted by: N E at November 2, 2009 03:24 PM

Well, another way of looking at this is that it gives us heroin addicts a chance to vote our conscience vis-a-vis our preferred brand of dope. As in, should I shuffle off to Smiley in East New York for his 'Killer Queda' stuff or head into the City for that 'Zombie Karzai' shit everyone is talking about?

Well, we all have our daily peculiar votes don't we?

Posted by: john at November 2, 2009 04:24 PM

No plan for Afghanistan can be taken seriously if it does not include the legalization and regulation of the poppy crop. IMO this is a huge blind-spot in Obama's views towards his massive "drug problem" both here at home, and abroad.

Posted by: greenfloyd at November 3, 2009 04:12 AM

Many members of the NATO armed & openly genocidal KLA were drug lords before they became freedom fighters & ultimately democratic & multicultural government. (the rest were sex slvers, organleggers & unemployed Albanian torturers & wartime Nazis). It will be interesting to see if any of them, like the Albanian roofer & major party donor filmed joking with A. Gore will be indicted.

Air America, the Golden Triangle, Mafiosi hired to fight Castro, Noriega, the KLA & Karzai. Is this a trend?

Posted by: Neil Craig at November 3, 2009 10:12 AM

neil craig

yes, quite a trend indeed. Not much attention is paid to the KLA. I think an excellent book published in 2000 is Dollars for Terror, The United States and Islam, by a Swiss journalist, Richard Labeviere. (Michael Chussodovsky is good too, from a more academic angle.) Labeviere has chapters on the the creation of Islamism as a bulwark against arab nationalism going way back to the aftermath of the Suez crisis, the increased role of petrodollars in the 70s and 80s, the privatization of US foreign (military) policy in the 90s before and during the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the backing of the KLA, and, of particular interest considering the publication date of 2000, a chapter on "the Taliban, Mercenaries of the American Oil Companies." My how times change.

The relationship of intel agencies and drug traffickers is symbiotic. Imagine how much easier it is to deal in drugs with government protection against arrest and confiscation! That's what the intel agencies have to offer. What they need in return is mercenaries, money that isn't earmarked or budgeted, and assistance on the ground meeting their goals. The traffickers make huge amounts of money at much lower risk, and in return the intel agencies get help reaching whatever objectives their geopolitical agenda supplies. It's not like they enjoy drug trafficking, but it's necessary for the greater good, so they take a deep breath and do it. Also, there's plenty of chances to make some personal cash through corruption, and a good time is had by all.

So I imagine that trend you shrewdly noticed will continue.

Posted by: N E at November 3, 2009 03:15 PM