by Charles R. Smith
Thursday, March 28, 2002
The Bush administration has decided not to destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan. President Bush, who previously linked the Afghan drug trade directly to terrorism, has now decided not to destroy the Afghan opium crop.
"The war in Afghanistan will be decided within the next six weeks based on whether or not the poppy crops go to market," stated a U.S. intelligence official who recently returned from Afghanistan.
The source, who requested that he not be identified, noted that the opium poppy fields are blooming and ready for harvest. U.S. forces could destroy the crops using aerial spraying techniques, but no such actions are planned.
"If the estimated 3,000 tons of opium reaches market, it will lead to a new upsurge in international terrorism and a great loss in international credibility for the Bush administration and the United States' ability to conduct war in the 21st century. America's enemies throughout the world from China to North Korea to Iran will be emboldened by this lack of strategic vision and political will," said the source.
U.N. Ban on Opium Trade
The U.S. and all its allies signed onto a worldwide ban on opium sales. In January 2002, the U.N. issued a report on the Afghan opium production, noting that allied forces needed to act quickly to destroy the 2002 opium poppy crops before the end of spring.
"The global importance of the ban on opium poppy cultivation and trafficking in Afghanistan is enormous," states the January 2002 U.N. report on drug trafficking. "Afghanistan has been the main source of illicit opium: 70 percent of global illicit opium production in 2000 and up to 90 percent of heroin in European drug markets originated from Afghanistan," states the U.N. report.
"There are reliable indications that opium poppy cultivation has resumed since October 2001 in some areas (such as the southern provinces Uruzgan, Helmand, Nangarhar and Kandahar), following the effective implementation of the Taliban ban on cultivation in 2001, not only because of the breakdown in law and order, but also because the farmers are desperate to find a means of survival following the prolonged drought," states the U.N. report.
This Is Your CIA
Several sources inside Capitol Hill noted that the CIA opposes the destruction of the Afghan opium supply because to do so might destabilize the Pakistani government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. According to these sources, Pakistani intelligence had threatened to overthrow President Musharraf if the crops were destroyed. The threat to overthrow Musharraf is motivated in part by Islamic radical groups linked to the Pakistani intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The radical groups reportedly obtain their primary funding through opium production and trade.
"Pakistan's intelligence service is corrupt, unreliable, and we don't owe them a damn thing. The CIA has a very checkered past as far as who they choose to get in the sack with. Maybe it's time to stop being clever and do the right thing," stated another source close to the Bush administration.
"If they [the CIA] are in fact opposing the destruction of the Afghan opium trade, it'll only serve to perpetuate the belief that the CIA is an agency devoid of morals; off on their own program rather than that of our constitutionally elected government," stated the source.
"If we don't take this opportunity to destroy the opium production in Afghanistan, we are no better than the Taliban, who did nothing to stop it despite claims to the contrary," he concluded.
This Is Your CIA on Drugs
The CIA decision not to stop the Afghan opium production has been greeted silently by U.S. allies. According to intelligence sources, both the U.K. and French governments have quietly given their approval of the American policy by not acting in accordance with the U.N. global ban on opium traffic.
However, one foreign intelligence official was quick to point out that the CIA has a history of supporting international drug trafficking.
"The CIA did almost the identical thing during the Vietnam War, which had catastrophic consequences – the increase in the heroin trade in the USA beginning in the 1970s is directly attributable to the CIA. The CIA has been complicit in the global drug trade for years, so I guess they just want to carry on their favorite business," noted an allied intelligence official who works closely with U.S. law enforcement.
"The sole reason why organized crime groups and terrorists have the power that they do is all because of drug trafficking. Like the old saying, 'those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it,'" stated the official. TV War on Terror
According to intelligence sources, a simple grant of $200 a year, no more than $20 million in total, sent to each poorly paid Afghan farmer could stop all opium production. The U.S. war in Afghanistan has already consumed an estimated $40 billion.
After spending millions of dollars on a U.S. advertising campaign that linked illegal drug sales to terrorism, the Bush administration has opted not to destroy Afghanistan's opium production over fears that such an act may destabilize Pakistan.
Clearly, ending opium production inside Afghanistan could be more effective than spending millions on TV advertising. The lack of action in Afghanistan against the drug trade shows that the Bush administration has adopted a hypocritical and flawed policy in its war on terror.
The current U.S. law enforcement tactics aimed at slick TV ads and seizing terrorist money will not stop the flow of illegal drug money flowing into the hands of Osama bin Laden. If the Bush administration is truly interested in ending terrorism, then it must start in the poppy fields of Afghanistan.
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