29 August 2010

Afghans "insulted" by link to CIA... really?

With everything going on in Afghanistan - the inability to control the Taliban, the bribes and corruption in the government, the drug trafficking, the backchannel deals with warlords - you're insulted by a report that the guys trying to help you build an actual country are cutting you a check for your cooperation? Damn, that's rich...

A U.S. newspaper report that said a key national security adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai was being paid by the CIA is an insult to Afghanistan aimed at discrediting Karzai's government, his office said on Saturday.

Citing Afghan and U.S. officials, the New York Times reported Thursday that Mohammed Zia Salehi, who is under investigation for allegedly soliciting bribes, appears to have been paid by the U.S. spy agency for many years.

"Afghanistan's government ... considers such an assertion an insult," a statement from Karzai office's said. "We strongly condemn such irresponsible publicity which creates suspicion and doubt and discredits officials of our country."

Salehi was arrested by Afghan police in a dawn raid in July as part of investigations into corruption -- a major source of tension between Karzai and his U.S. backers -- but was released after the Afghan leader intervened.

The statement said the claim was part of an effort to deflect attention from tasks such as banning foreign security firms, a populist measure Karzai announced this month. Afghanistan faces parliamentary elections on September 18 and such firms have long been an irritant for many Afghans.

By: Brant

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