Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's Osama Now? Is Afghan Drug Money Rescuing Western Banks?

Stewart Brand
Eugene Robinson
Andrew Ross Sorkin
Dana Milbank

One of the hopeful goals of the 30,000 troop surge to Afghanistan is to flush out Osama bin Laden, who is thought to be in North Waziristan, after the Pakistani Army had just combed through South Waziristan. It's thought that if we can finally capture or eliminate bin Laden, his organization will fall apart. This is the reason why the US military has been pressuring the Pakistani military for another campaign into North Waziristan, where the followers of Sirajuddin Haqqani are. The Pakistanis are loath to go against him because he has been an intelligence asset to them in the past, and, who knows, he might become the next elected President of Afghanistan... If Stanley McChrystal doesn't succeed, then his hopes of running against Obama in 2012 will be dashed...

"There is little dispute that bin Laden and his close associates, including his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, move around in the vast and inhospitable mountainous territory that straddles the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; the porous border exists only as a line on a map. "Intelligence reports suggest that the al-Qaeda chief is somewhere inside North Waziristan, sometimes on the Pakistani side of the border, sometimes on the Afghan side of the border," US National Security Adviser James Jones said this week.

Interaction with generally well-connected militant sources leads Asia Times Online to believe that bin Laden, 52, is alive and healthy, despite a history of kidney trouble. Since the construction of a US base in 2007 at the intersection of the Afghan province of Kunar and Bajaur Agency in Pakistan, bin Laden is confirmed to have flitted from place to place on either side of the border.

He is definitely known to have spent time in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area, but all sources say that nowadays he is more often than not in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden has numerous safe houses and is protected by a strong network of diehards in the Pakistani tribal areas, in addition to an intelligence network on both sides of the border that has to date managed to stay a step ahead of both Western and Pakistani intelligence." 

We already know about the much publicized complaint from the CIA that they could have had him anyday back in 2002, when he was staying in the caves in Tora Bora that were excavated by the bin Laden Construction company for the comfort of their estranged brother. That the CIA were positive he was there is because they had daily contact with him... The only reason they let him slip away, other than a military order to not give support to the CIA, is out of kindness, I suppose...

The Talibans, in the meantime, are planting bombs everywhere near police installations trying to dissuade people from volunteering anf getting paid more than they can pay.

follow the money...

A new report from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has just been released on the topic of Afghanistan's opium trade. It seems like more propaganda and gobbledegook than a straightforward report: "The report, entitled "Addiction, Crime, and Insurgency: The Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium," gives the false impression that the Taliban are the main culprits behind Afghanistan's skyrocketing drug production. It also implies that drugs are the main reason why the Taliban are gaining in strength, absolving the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of their own responsibility in fomenting the insurgency."

As the Asia Times points out: "But the roots of Afghanistan's upsurge in drug production since 2001 are directly related to US policies and the government that was installed in the wake of the invasion. The United States attacked Afghanistan in 2001, in alliance with anti-Taliban warlords and drug lords, showering them with millions of dollars and other forms of support. The empowerment and enrichment of the warlords with whom the US allied itself enabled them to tax and protect opium traffickers, leading to the quick resumption of opium production after the hiatus of the 2000 Taliban ban.

To blame "corruption" and "criminals" for the state of affairs is to ignore the direct and predictable effects of US policies, which have simply followed a historical pattern of toleration and empowerment of local drug lords in the pursuit of broader foreign policy objectives, as Alfred McCoy and others have documented in detail.

Impunity for drug lords and warlords continues: a US Senate report noted in August that no major traffickers have been arrested in Afghanistan since 2006, and that successful prosecutions of significant traffickers are often overturned by a simple bribe or protection from above, revealing counter-narcotics efforts to be deficient at best.

Identifying drugs as the main cause behind Taliban advances absolves the US/NATO of their own responsibility" So countries like Russia and Iran, both facing problems with rising heroin use, can thank the US and CIA for continuing their policy of favoring drug lords, and letting the trade flourish in pursuing those friendships. Its the same policy that was enacted in Vietnam and Laos, which also has been extensively documented by Alfred McCoy. Hell, even the claims that the Feds introduced crack cocaine to central Los Angeles in a twisted attempt to have Black junkies die seems to have more credibility.

The report notices that most of the Taliban's money comes from donations rather than the selling of opiates. Most of the drug trade launders its money through legitimate banks, and may even have helped to rescue some: "In fact, Antonio Maria Costa was quoted as saying that drug money may have recently rescued some failing banks: "Interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities", and there were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way". "At a time of major bank failures, money doesn't smell, bankers seem to believe," he wrote in UNODC's 2009 World Drug Report" Kinda gives new depth to the reports of major banks paying back their TARP payments early, doesn't it?

There have been 45.000 people accredited to attend the climate conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen. The center is supposed to hold only 15,000, but they have let 30,000 in already. Leaving the other 15,000 and more arriving daily to join in on the street theater in below freezing weather. So far, the reports are that the major delegates have stopped talking to one another, like China and the US.  We may see an internal meltdown, of delegates becoming as crazy as the leader of Indonesia.

It reminds me of the old Yippie days, when political street theater would be performed on the streets of Berkeley and Chicago. Here, the message is a bit more urgent: our planet is dying and there maybe nothing you dogs can do...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! Thanks for commenting. I always try to respond...