Friday, March 13, 2009

Afghanistan: Afghanistan Strategy - follow the money

President Obama's promised Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy to be delivered to the April 3-4 NATO summit should track the dirty money, both from drug production and from neighboring countries, say former White House drug policy spokesman Robert Weiner and former CIA intelligence analyst Paula Garthoff. They urge, "Follow the Money."

In an oped column in today's Miami Herald, "Banking: Stop Flow of Funds that Underwrite Terrorism," Weiner and Garthoff assert that in the new Afghan strategy, "President Obama must confront a hard reality: illegal money underwrites those bent on wreaking havoc on America."

Weiner and Garthoff say, "Although 60 nations are likely involved in the money network, a few players dominate the financing of Islamic extremists. Elements within Saudi Arabia, including wealthy, religiously extreme donors to Islamic charities, have been major bankrollers of terror groups, according to the Treasury Department. Fifteen of the 19 original hijackers were Saudi citizens."

"Saudi Arabia remains the location where more money is going to the Taliban than any other place in the world," asserted then Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey last year. Gen. Petraeus has said that Iran is also helping the Taliban, partly to counter the sway of its rival Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan."

Weiner and Garthoff suggest, "Under the 1999 Drug Kingpin Act we freeze individuals' and organizations' assets every year -- banks can be added to this list. The Administration's proposed legislation to bar offshore havens for U.S. tax evaders should include banks' agreement that they will refuse terror or drug money deposits or be placed on the lists of companies with whom the US and its citizens are barred from doing business."

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner must stop institutions -- whether in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, or other banking centers -- from engaging in activities inimical to US interests."

"The money produced by the drug business must be a central focus of our new strategy in Afghanistan, which now produces 92 percent of the world's opium and transits a third of it through Pakistan."

"We must also be concerned, as the President told a congressional meeting, about military 'mission creep' in Afghanistan. Large DOD contractors like Halliburton will be seeking another 'home' to hawk their wares as the U.S. leaves Iraq. Building another 'sandbox' for the DOD to play in is not a sufficient reason to continue the fight."

Weiner and Garthoff conclude, "Do we want to join Russia, Britain, and others in failed interventions in Afghanistan, or do we want to get it right this time -- focusing tightly on our interests by destroying the financial and drug underpinnings of past and future plots against America?"

Source: Robert Weiner Associates
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits