Afghan president Hamid Karzai isn't ready to give up his financially beneficial relationship with the CIA just yet. No, he wants those backpacks full from cash to keep coming. Karzai said he met with the CIA's Afghanistan station chief a few hours before while speaking with reporters Saturday. The conversation went fairly well, if Karzai is to be believed.
Here's how Karzai described his conversation with the station chief. Karzai told him, "'Because of all these rumors in the media, please do not cut all this money because we really need it. We want to continue this sort of assistance,'" and then the CIA agreed. "And he promised that they are not going to cut this money," Karzai added.
Many former officials described the payments as wasteful in The New York Times' report that revealed the payments to the world. The CIA came dropped off cold, hard cash in backpacks or grocery bags over a ten year period to the presidential palace were wasteful. The payments were meant to help the CIA influence Karzai's thinking, but it's debatable whether or not they've succeeded. He's been increasingly defiant recently, prompting surprise trips from John Kerry to smooth things over. On top of that, Iran was funnelling money to Karzai at the same time.
The Afghan leader said the payments were an "an easy source of petty cash," and said it's been used to pay off warlords, pay rent for government workers, and pay for medical supplies for the Presidential guard. "It has helped us a lot, it has solved lots of our problems," he said. Karzai also wouldn't mind if other branches of the federal government started paying him off. "If tomorrow the State Department decides to give us such cash, I’d welcome that, too," he said.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.