WikiLeaks cables on Afghanistan show monumental corruption
December 3rd, 2010
10:46 AM ET

WikiLeaks cables on Afghanistan show monumental corruption

Hundreds of U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks paint a picture of corruption in Afghanistan at every level of government and society.

Cables from the U.S. ambassador in Kabul portray Afghan President Hamid Karzai as paranoid, with an "inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building."

Many of the cables were sent from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul over the last two years. The New York Times, which had advance access to the estimated 250,000 documents leaked to WikiLeaks, reported the documents showed corruption's "pervasive nature, its overwhelming scale, and the dispiriting challenge it poses to American officials."

More on WikiLeaks from CNN's This Just In

One cable from the U.S. mission in Kabul earlier this year noted that the agriculture minister, Asif Rahimi, "appears to be the only minister that was confirmed about whom no allegations of bribery exist."

At the same time, Dr. Sayed Fatimie, the minister of health, told U.S. diplomats that members of Parliament wanted cash to confirm his appointment. "Fatimie said MPs had offered their own votes and the votes of others they could purportedly deliver for $1,000 apiece," a cable said.

Another Afghan minister warned U.S. diplomats that Karzai was "under great pressure from political leaders to accept a number of ministerial candidates whose technical skills are lacking." The minister "argued that these political leaders are only thinking of dividing up the spoils rather than the quality of government needed to tackle Afghanistan's problems."

The cables also demonstrate an often difficult relationship between NATO allies and Karzai. At a meeting described in a cable in October 2008, a British official said the United Kingdom "continues to feel 'deep frustration' with Karzai. But he added: "I remind people that we - the international community - selected him."

Some months later, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry drew up a candid psychological profile of Karzai. In a cable dated July 7, 2009, Eikenberry wrote that one portrait of Karzai that emerged was "of a paranoid and weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation-building and overly self-conscious that his time in the spotlight of glowing reviews from the international community has passed." At the same time, he was "an ever-shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero who can save the country from being divided by the decentralization-focused agenda of Abdullah [his leading rival for the presidency], other political rivals, neighboring countries, and the US."

Eikenberry concluded: "In order to recalibrate our relationship with Karzai, we must deal with and challenge both of these personalities."

The following week, Eikenberry reported that "the President's manner was significantly more relaxed and warm than in meetings the previous week when he was often agitated, accusing the US of working against him." But again, the ambassador warned: "His inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building and his deep-seated insecurity as a leader combine to make any admission of fault unlikely, in turn confounding our best efforts to find in Karzai a responsible partner."

The ambassador concluded: "I will begin a frank, collaborative (and perhaps, at times, confrontational) dialogue with Karzai. No alternative approach is now evident. Karzai's current vision for Afghanistan's future relies too strongly on warlords, tribal chiefs, and other personalities of the past who would be difficult to reconcile with our commitments to build strong government institutions and professional security forces."

The cables from Kabul also underline the difficulty in confronting money-laundering of profits from the heroin trade and other criminal enterprises. One from October 2009 claimed that one hawala (informal cash) network "is facilitating bribes and other wide-scale illicit cash transfers for corrupt Afghan officials and is providing illicit financial services for narco-traffickers, insurgents, and criminals through an array of front companies in Afghanistan and the UAE."

But an investigation of the hawala network proved difficult. One cable reported that Afghanistan's interior minister asked that the U.S. take a low profile on the case to avoid the perception that investigations were being carried out "at the behest of the United States."

In another cable, a senior Afghan official told the U.S. Embassy that of the $200 million collected in fees on truck traffic, just $30 million reached government coffers.

And in October 2009, a cable from the U.S. Director of Development said "vast amounts of cash come and go from the country on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. Before the August 20 election $600 million in banking system withdrawals were reported." More than $190 million in cash had been taken through Kabul Airport to Dubai alone.

The New York Times cites another cable in which an Afghan official explained the "four stages" at which his colleagues skimmed money from development projects: "When contractors bid on a project, at application for building permits, during construction, and at the ribbon-cutting ceremony."

But one cable from earlier this year graphically demonstrated the dilemma facing U.S. and allied officials as they try to grapple with corruption. It talks about one Afghan Border Police Commander "accused constantly of illegal trafficking and taxing activities." But at the same time the officer had been careful to "maintain a co-operative relationship with the ISAF (NATO-led International Security Assistance Force) leadership" in a district crucial for the safe passage of NATO convoys.

The cable concluded that both ISAF and the U.S. government "walk a thin tightrope when working with this allegedly corrupt official who is also a major security stabilizing force."

It's a dilemma that's echoed on an almost daily basis across Afghanistan, if these cables are any guide.

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Filed under: Karzai • WikiLeaks
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Larry


    February 2, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kelly

    Gosh,u guys are so busted.

    December 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. James

    How cute, he is acting just like his mentor Dick Cheney!

    December 13, 2010 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Know one could act as bad as Cheney!!!

      December 13, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yellowskin

    some distorted yak*keep shaming the hindus,if you look in depth or have read the Hindu holy scripture ,you found so many rituals,ways even the attire like white robes in Islam were the same or copy from Hindu Religion,copy i say because Hindu religion existed much,much earlier than Islam

    December 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. National

    Some day we will have to ask all muslims to depart or to die. Or WE will die.

    December 12, 2010 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      I doubt it very much!!!

      December 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Incognito

      Not all muslims are bad so no need for such extreme measures.Yes the goverment is corrupt,but thats why we should try to help change their goverment an the general mentality(if they want and let us too).Europe was also corrupt in the dark ages.Now its diferent, and it didn't hapen over night and on it's own.

      March 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • AlphaBaker

        You contradicted yourself.
        Pick a side and stick to it.

        March 21, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LarryKegel(US Army)

    I think the reason the Muslin don't like the Christians is They keep push Christ on Them!!! It is time all all Religions to start respecting each others religion and lets have PEACE in the World!!!

    December 10, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • U.S. Army Muslim

      I agree.

      April 4, 2011 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nick Costantino

    I wish WikiLeaks would do something really helpful for everyone in the world. Find a government any where in this world that is free of corruption. Even the US is not immune to corruption. Telling us that the Middle East governments are full of corrupt officials should come as no surprise to anyone.

    December 10, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      it will only make things worse not better!!!

      December 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. michael

    WE have a right to know!- the argument that government can speak for the people but the people don't need to know what they are saying , just doesn't fly with me! We want an open government ! If you believe that this is your country then– fix it,– and if you cannot- then it is not yours!

    The wiki bible the light and the truth! Don't burn there bible!

    December 9, 2010 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |

      Very well stated,michael. Thank you.

      December 9, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    This whole area is garbage. Until they decide that having 20 kids for allah is just not feasible, I say let their fellow "muslim brothers" in Saudi Arabia and QAE bail them out.

    December 8, 2010 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. barbadine

    I would like to know why he does not attack the other side, like he started with american leaks, what about the russian mafia, the african corruption, the iran nuclear stuff, secret territories or forbidden traffics are not news and huge; then on top of being on trial in sweden, he'll be like salman rushie in the sold days with a

    December 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dindy.....

    Oh !! dear. it is a long time !!

    December 7, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. LarryKegel(US Army)

    Hopefully soon The Government will be able to help Themselves like They are now in Iraq!!!

    December 6, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      Sadly the only way they will really start helping themselves is if they are forced to help themselves by NATO leaving and cutting funding.

      December 6, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Right Phunnie boy,NATO does need to vacate Afghanistan and forget about exploiting it's resources. By the way, let's hope that the puppet government in Iraq doesn't last too long,either!

        December 6, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
      • Dindy.....

        The Prop M...when you talk about fishing and fish it makes me sad. These days something wrong with fish here. Not good for cats even . fish get melts when cook. . I have dreams about one salmon ate in America given by a Neighbor .

        December 6, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        @ Dindy- Yes, places like ZIndia and China have monumental pollution in the air and water, if they start now it will take 30 years or more to fix the problem.

        December 6, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        We already tried that with Iraq and We had to go back again!!! We have to make sure things are ready like We did in Iraq before We can leave...

        December 10, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Dec. 6th at 11:37 I didn't say that!!!

      December 10, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jester

    this Karzai guy, he is always speaking rubbish against Pakistan, considering the number of Afghan refugees inside Pakistan without any papers or record. His stupidy is going to get them all kicked out and dumped back in Afghanistan someday

    December 6, 2010 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. loupgarous

    So far, the WikiLeaked embassy cables have been real yawners. Vladimir Putin has a poor work ethic. The mafiya runs Russia. Afghanistan is massively corrupt. I mean, NOTHING gets past the US State Department!

    The only remarkable thing about most of these cables is that local embassy staffers felt as though this information was novel enough to wire back to Foggy Bottom. Most of us already knew what's in the cables.

    December 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      @ loupgarous- Absolutely correct, what I find disturbing it they took the time to gather this information and feel it is actually useful. What’s worse is taxpayers are paying these idiots to do this type of work. Now if they leaked out a fantastic steelhead fishing location no one else knows about and the type, color and size of fly that is the preferred bait- THAT would be actionable intelligence.

      December 5, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jesse Cook


    December 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |

    @Dan in Lafayette, IN

    Islamic terrorism is the word made by your government to brainwashed the people. If you think all islam terrorist, you are wrong. 1.5 billion terrorists can erase the USA map by suicide bomber. Can you believe that? 1.5 billion is an old statistic. WE reached 1.8 billion now. So we only can take 1 minute to erased USA map. Just wonder, why we are many...

    December 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy..... dont have to make a scream about it. we all know that all the Muslims are not terrorists. Yet it would be nice it these peace loving Muslims can give a voice against suicide bombers and show that they are really for peace. Do a favor for the country (USA) where many Muslims still live and educate them selves.

      December 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  17. BellaVista

    The whole world must step out of Afghanistan and let these folks alone to give them good time for practicing corruption with themselves! These folks make big bug in corruption and at the same time growing opium! but nothing else! This is due to corruption and growing opium that can make much more money than do anything else! USA and NATO should pull out their troops to leave these folks enjoy themselves in these traditional businesses of this "civilized" nation!

    December 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      @ BellaVista- I disagree, ignoring the problem won't make it go away such as the fact that Taliban attacked the US from here or they are financing their war of terrorism with drug money. We should either Bomb the crap out of the country until it fades away into history or we should help them- I don't really care which one, as long as one of them works, ignoring it is not a solution. So far it's looking like helping them isn't accomplishing enough so maybe we need to go back to option number one?

      December 5, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Right let the Tarriest go back so that They can train more Tarriest to attack Our Country right???

      December 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Come on,if you're going to post under my name,at least learn how spell properly,please. The word in question is "terrorist",not "Tarriest"!!!

        December 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 5, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jesse Cook


        December 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        You think You are funny making fun of Me??? Why don't You grow up already and use Your own name so People will know who the Idiot is taking others name???

        December 6, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Dindy.....

        No matter how much you try to be like Larry. you have failed again. Find a name for you. why U waste your time and others. ? Meet a doctor for your mental illness.

        December 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  18. BellaVista

    Afghanistan is the worst corrupted nation in the world! It is the number one in the list of top-ten of world most corrupted nations! It is impossible to find a raghead here who is not a corruptor!

    December 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  19. BellaVista

    Land of the Horribles!

    December 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe


      December 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Fish

    Just blow the " bad actors" away without hesatation. We have had the technology since I was in. Think that would cause these people to rethink thier efforts?

    December 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      The Big Corporations wouldn't be making the money They are making today if They had to pay the American Workers to build Their products!!!

      December 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Fish

    Why are we wasting the lives of our soldiers on this nearly impossible task of nation building?
    Why are we wasting our tax dollars, they could be better spent aiding the people who live in this country and contribute to this economy?

    December 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Because that is the best way that 9/11 doesn't happen again!!! We rather fight there than have Our People dieing here...

      December 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Sorry Fish,I didn't post the above. I totally agree with your statement. We are in Afghanistan because the MIC(military-industrial-complex) in Washington is making a lot of money out of this obnoxious war which to them is a big money maker!

        December 4, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Will You quit using My Name!!! It was bad enough You use my other one!!!

        December 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jesse Cook


        December 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      Julius Caesar- “I entered Rome a city of brick and left it a city of Marble”

      Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, The Brittish, the Russuians, NATO, etc- “I entered Afghanistan a country of dirt and left it a country of dirt”
      The Wisdom of the Prophet.

      December 5, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        Sorry, I don't use spell check obviously.

        December 5, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        No, I'm pretty sure I am the real Prophet, in person.

        December 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    Is that you Pfunnie boy,now blogging under the name of DUBBYA?

    December 4, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  23. DUBBYA

    Ha ha

    December 4, 2010 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
  24. Joe

    Nothing new...The sad part is top US military and government officials witness and except the corruption as part of doing daily business. I spent a year in Kabul trying to voice concerns that fell on deaf ears...

    December 4, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      How do You expect Other Countries not to be corrupted When the United States is the Worse of Them all!!!

      December 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lennybaby

        Wanna bet on that????

        December 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dindy.....

        Larrykegel ( US Army) come and see undeveloped countries and look at Switzerland, FRANCE,GERMANY or your own country. Then you will appreciate what you have got. You guys are so blessed to have such place call USA as I have seen more than 10 states. So clean and beautiful. Your leaders have done a better Job.

        December 7, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • yellowskin

      U.S. sponsored regimes were all pestered with high level corruption, and as usual ended with fall of the regimes in the end', vietnam,Nicaragua,Panama,Colombia,Indonesia,now Iraq,Afghanistan,soon S.Korea.....

      December 12, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Austin B

    This is a lost cause.....has been since the start...let them be, if they want to waddle in their own filth and be it...but not at our expense...

    December 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      Well put,Austin B. I agree.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe

        Make look?

        December 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        @ Bledsoe- It's working for one of you at least.

        December 5, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      Absolutely correct.

      December 5, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  26. Carole Clarke

    Bribery in this part of the world is how things have gotten done for centuries. You can either accept the fact or try to alter the entire culture and fail. THEY ARE NOT LIKE US. Our cherished concepts are alien to them. Their loyalty is to family, tribe and religion – equal justice under law is not a part of their culture. You cannot erase thousands of years in just a few years. Even when they understand our ways will benefit them enormously they will refuse to change. I think only Machiavelli will work in this part of the world. That minister of whom no corruption touched – he also probably gets little done and has no contacts to change that. For us this is sneakiness and is to be deplored but for them it is how business is done. We need to take decisions that deal with this dichotomy and can benefit us in the end.

    December 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      @ Carole Clarke- Excellent post and quite true, especially the comment about the minister who no corruption has touched- yes he probably accomplishes little. Something needs to be done about the corruption though or we need to cut the funding down to what is actually making it out to Society and do the work ourselves so they have no hand in it. American taxpayers do not need to be buying these idiots vacation homes.

      December 4, 2010 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
      • Dindy.....

        THE PROP are really funny sometimes 🙂

        December 8, 2010 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      They said the same thing in place like Russia, China and other Countries but look what is happening today!!! Even South Korea is changing Their way of Thinking...

      December 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        South Korea is WAY ahead of those countries.

        December 5, 2010 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
    • ezmerelda

      our cherished concepts? they are not like us? they are just like 'us'.

      December 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  27. jjh

    Karzai has good reason to be paranoid. He will soon get the fate of his predecessor (Najibullah was hung from the lamppost after being castrated)

    December 3, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      What happened to Nadjibullah was a veritable tragedy for Afghanistan.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette, IN

        The USA is in Afghanistan to help the country become a nation that abides by international laws and to rid the nation of Islamic terrorism. If the present government abuses American aid it is not the fault of the USA. If the aid were to stop the Islamic extremists would win over the people and once again be in submission to your truth of 360 degrees of killers of freedom!

        December 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Like I said before,under the Communists corruption was virtually non-existant. Getting rid of the Communists was the biggest mistake the Afghans ever made.

        December 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lennybaby

        Well stated,Dan. If Najibullah was still in power,there'd be no war there today. What a terrible thing!

        December 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bledsoe


        December 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jesse Cook


        December 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Prophet Mohammed

        What I want to know is what the h3ll does this have to do with fishing? Why are we reading about corruption in Afghanistan? Why is it a big deal it was on Worthless, I mean Wikileaks? Where has everyone been, It's not a secret after all.
        Now let's get back to something important,..... fish ON!

        December 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • John D.

      We should have just nuked the whole damn middle east and been done with it.

      December 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sally Li

        That is absolutely ridiculous to talk about nuking anything or anyone, especially an entire region of the world which stretches from Morocco to Afghanistan. If anyone were to do that, the fallout would contaminate the entire eastern and southern United States and the Mississippi drainage basin, for over 200 years. The effect on world climate would intensify the frequency and size of every hurricane hitting the Caribbean and the eastern United States for at least the next 400 years. In other words, if we were to "nuke the entire Middle East", as you suggest, the prevailing winds and hurricane tracks would make the eastern two-thirds of the American mainland a vast, ghost -town environment for centuries to come. There is such a thing as "enlightened self-interest", and it exists in order to convince people to do what is right, and convince people not to do what is not right, when simple common sense and morality won't work.
        I know John D. is being facetious, but some people might fail to take this kind of wartime humor with the grain of salt it deserves. They might think John D. is being serious.

        December 10, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
      • ahmad

        u have exploited mideast long enough, oil, military bases, creation of israel....
        is it your property that u nuke it, motherfcker...

        December 12, 2010 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • zuesman

      u.s. has monumental corruption this wikileaks isn't realy important dick cheney has been charged with bribery and no one is talking about it the federal reserve runs our country and they are not even a part of goverment wake up worry about the u.s. bfore we worry about afghanistan

      December 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Karzai plays both sides against the middle.(US) He appears to be one of those types of leaders who will join forces with whoever comes out ahead. Maybe it is his way of saving his own azz, while raking in US dollars in the process, that are unaccounted for (btw). At any rate, I don't trust the guy...and that is my opinion..Thanks

      January 4, 2011 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |