In my piece a few weeks ago about the declining popularity of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, I had a short aside about how his brother is suspected of being one of the country’s drug kingpins. It caused a bit of confusion: after all, isn’t Karzai a good guy? Well, Jim Risen and Carlotta Gall of the New York Times got into excruciating detail about Ahmed Wali Karzai’s heroin slinging a little while ago (I’m late to this):
The White House says it believes that Ahmed Wali Karzai is involved in drug trafficking, and American officials have repeatedly warned President Karzai that his brother is a political liability, two senior Bush administration officials said in interviews last week.
Numerous reports link Ahmed Wali Karzai to the drug trade, according to current and former officials from the White House, the State Department and the United States Embassy in Afghanistan, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity. In meetings with President Karzai, including a 2006 session with the United States ambassador, the Central Intelligence Agency’s station chief and their British counterparts, American officials have talked about the allegations in hopes that the president might move his brother out of the country, said several people who took part in or were briefed on the talks.
“We thought the concern expressed to Karzai might be enough to get him out of there,” one official said. But President Karzai has resisted, demanding clear-cut evidence of wrongdoing, several officials said. “We don’t have the kind of hard, direct evidence that you could take to get a criminal indictment,” a White House official said. “That allows Karzai to say, ‘where’s your proof?’ ”
What good drug dealer doesn’t cover his tracks well enough to escape indictment? This might not be indictable, but it’s at least as good as when Cedric Daniels found Clay Davis‘ driver with a pillowcase full of cash after coming from a Barksdale pickup spot:
Two years later, American and Afghan counternarcotics forces stopped another truck, this time near Kabul, finding more than 110 pounds of heroin. Soon after the seizure, United States investigators told other American officials that they had discovered links between the drug shipment and a bodyguard believed to be an intermediary for Ahmed Wali Karzai, according to a participant in the briefing.
As I reported in my piece, the widespread perception of corruption surrounding Karzai and his government is a slow-gathering hurricane making its way for Kabul by the next election. What I should have reported in my piece is a deep, deep wish for "The Wire" to suddenly return for a sixth season so the new street name for heroin can be Taliban Winter.
Crossposted to The Streak.