slip the drugs of war
Is the CIA helping itself to the Afghan heroin harvest?
no pack drill, like we used to say in the army, but I had a client
who wanted me to look into some aspects of the world heroin trade.
a bit, and made a few phone calls and began to have disturbing suspicions.
the fall of the Taliban regime, which had seriously honoured an agreement
to close down the trade, heroin production in Afghanistan has surged.
In 2006 there was a 50 per cent increase in the poppy harvest and
it created a new record for world production, my contact in the UN
Office on Drugs and Crime told me. Afghanistan now accounts for 92
per cent of the worlds illicit production. She expected it would
take another leap upwards this year.
is the stuff ending up? So far, not in Australia, but thats
only a matter of time. Once again, the streets of Western Europe and
Russia are awash with the stuff and that fact got me thinking about
espionage game provides a powerful motive, superbly trained teams
and the perfect cover for large-scale drug smuggling. Its hardly
a secret that, in the past, the CIA has partaken of the feast and,
collectively, it couldnt give a damn if the stuff gets dumped
on the despised nations of Old Europe.
US clandestine agencies are a sprawling brotherhood of silence and
trust. And it isnt just the huge bureaucracy of the CIA itself.
Now, theres also a freelance parallel universe of special
forces and security contractors created by
the neocons for their War on Terror doing everything from assassinations
to interrogation. No mainstream politician wants to know
what these people are doing in their name.
security reasons these organizations are rigidly compartmentalised.
Everything is on a need-to-know basis; Dont ask, dont
tell is the rule. When (somewhere in the world) a Learjet from
one of the CIAs front companies rolls into the hanger at a US
military airbase you just say Hi, Raul to the pilot and
forget you saw the manacled guy being frogmarched down the steps,
wearing a blindfold and earmuffs. You certainly dont ask what
those big black duffle bags might contain.
of course, this vast bureaucracy has a limitless appetite for money
over and above the official budget, itself often partly concealed.
Were talking about black, untraceable money. Money in quantities
you cant achieve by any means other than drugs. Were talking
hundreds of billions.
Amnesty Internationals 2006 report on the CIAs rendition
flights Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and disappearance
and my suspicion deepened. Officially available flight details
for known aircraft of the CIAs clandestine fleet combined with
observations by Amnestys global network of plane spotters reveal
that these aircraft fly too often, and touch down far more often,
than can be explained by the rendition of the hapless suspects they
were carrying at the time. They often stopped at US air bases where
the local authorities have no control over what gets loaded or unloaded.
musing on all this when a contact in the US emailed, drawing my attention
to an 11 October piece in the New York Times.
director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden,
has ordered an unusual internal inquiry into the work of the agencys
inspector general, whose aggressive investigations of the CIAs
detention and interrogation programs and other matters have created
resentment among agency operatives.
small team working for General Hayden is looking into the conduct
of the agencys watchdog office, which is led by Inspector General
John L. Helgerson. Current and former government officials said the
review had caused anxiety and anger in Mr. Helgersons office
and aroused concern on Capitol Hill that it posed a conflict of interest.
that the General Haydens investigation is particularly focused
on complaints that the inspector general had not acted as a fair and
impartial judge of CIA ops but was instead conducting a crusade against
participants in controversial detention programs.
move by the agencys director to examine the work of the inspector
general would be unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten
to undermine the independence of the office, some current and former
CIA spokesman strongly defended the inquiry
Hayden supported the work of the inspector generals office and
had accepted the vast majority of its findings.
only goal is to help this office, like any office at the agency, do
its vital work even better, said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.
Ill bet. Given that inspector general is appointed by the president
and reports to both the director of the CIA and to Congress, one would
have thought that he had every right to check up on what was going
on in the CIAs gulag archipelago.
maybe that wasnt where hed trespassed. Maybe, just maybe,
John Helgerson, in the course of auditing the whole dirty rendition
process had begun to have the same suspicions as I about an even dirtier