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Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

Gordon Duff
December 29, 2009

News out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India reports massive corruption at the highest levels of government, corruption that could only be financed with drug money. In Afghanistan, the president’s brother is known to be one of the biggest drug runners in the world.

In Pakistan, President Zardani is found with 60 million in a Swiss Bank and his Interior Minister is suspected of ties to American groups involved in paramilitary operations, totally illegal that could involve nothing but drugs, there is no other possibility.

Testimony in the US that our government has used “rendition” flights to transport massive amounts of narcotics to Western Europe and the United States has been taken in sworn deposition.

American mercenaries in Pakistan are hundreds of miles away from areas believed to be hiding terrorists, involved in “operations” that can’t have anything whatsoever to do with any CIA contract. These mercenaries aren’t in Quetta, Waziristan or FATA supporting our troops, they are in Karachi and Islamabad playing with police and government officials and living the life of the fatted calf.

The accusations made are that Americans in partnership with corrupt officials, perhaps in all 3 countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, are involved in assassinations, “unknown” criminal activities and are functioning like criminal gangs.

There is no oil. There is nothing to draw people into the area other than one product, one that nobody is talking about. Drugs.

The US got involved in massive drug operations, importation, processing and distribution during the Reagan years, supposedly to finance covert CIA operations involving death squads tasked with murdering Sandinista “infrastructure” in Nicaragua.

The deal involved Israel, Iran and the Colombian cartel. Saddam was even involved. In the end, President Reagan was put on the stand only to remember little or nothing of his tenure in office. Lt. Col. Oliver North was convicted as was Secretary of Defense Weinberger and many others. Pardons and “other methods” were used to keep the guilty out of jail.

Now we find what was supposed to be a CIA operation with one company only, Xe, operations that were meant to hunt a couple of terrorist/Taliban leaders in and around Quetta, a city of 1 million in remote Baluchistan has turned into a honeycomb of operations involving millions of dollars and personnel of all kinds, perhaps even ranking diplomats and high government officials, the highest.

The cover of hunting terrorists in remote areas with hundreds of armed men in cities on the other side of the country, cities filled with 5 star hotels, country clubs, polo, cricket and fine restaurants is not really cover, even by CIA standards.

The reports, bribes, actions that look and smell like drug gangs at work, tell a story that nobody wants to talk about.

With 50 billion dollars of opium from Afghanistan alone and crops in Pakistan and India also, managing the world’s heroin supply is, by my estimation, how all of this “muscle” is staying busy. When you see a black van full of armed men, is there a sign somewhere saying:

“We are counter terrorists working for the Central Intelligence Agency and we are only in town here, hundreds of miles from the nearest terrorist because we need a hot shower and to get a noise in the transmission checked out.”

Everyone can choose to believe what they want. It’s time we stopped lying. Its about drugs, always has been, always will, drugs and money. It buys men, it buys guns and it can buy governments and has, as anyone with eyes can see.

 



Terrorists, Crooks Allowed to Keep FAA Pilot’s Licenses

Terrorists, Crooks Allowed to Keep FAA Pilot’s Licenses

ABC News
December 18, 2009

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has asked the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inspector General to investigate why suspect individuals – including terrorists and drug kingpins – have been able to retain their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot’s licenses.

In a letter to DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner, the senators cited media reports, including an ABC News investigation, that questioned the ability of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to purge the FAA’s aviation list of individuals posing a threat to transportation security.

The Blotter also reported the names of two other men tied to drug trafficking and two convicted arms traffickers who still had their licenses as of Oct. The New York Times revealed that individuals charged or convicted of terrorism-related crimes were also able to retain their FAA licenses. While some of the individuals named in the ABC News and Times reports have since been stripped of their licenses, others have not, according to Safe Banking Systems (SBS), the New York computer security firm that first uncovered the suspect cases.

“These reports are disturbing, and suggest that people who are believed to pose security threats to our nation continue to have ready access to aircraft and airport facilities,” the letter to Skinner states. The letter is signed by senators Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., ranking member of the committee; Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security; and Jim DeMint, R-S.C., ranking member of the subcommittee.

 



War tax proposed to pay for protecting Afghan opium fields, bribing Taliban

Obama Allies Want New Tax To Pay For Cost Of Protecting Afghan Opium Fields, Bribing Taliban

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
November 20, 2009

Not content with savaging American taxpayers with two huge new financial burdens during an economic recession, in the form of health care reform and cap and trade, close allies of Barack Obama have proposed a new war surtax that will force Americans to foot the bill for the cost of protecting opium fields in Afghanistan, paying off drug lords, and bribing the Taliban.

Warning that the cost of occupying Afghanistan is a threat to the Democrats’ plan to overhaul health care, lawmakers have announced their plan to make Americans pay an additional war tax that will be taken directly from their income, never mind the fact that around 36 per cent of federal taxes already go to paying for national defense.

“Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for,” the lawmakers, all prominent Democratic allies of Obama, said in a joint statement on the “Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010 (PDF),” reports AFP.

The move is being led by the appropriately named House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, Representative John Murtha, who chairs that panel’s defense subcommittee; and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.

The tax would apply to anyone earning as little as $22,600 per year in 2011.

The proposal is described as “heavily symbolic” with little chance of passing, but it once again illustrates the hypocrisy of an administration that swept to power on the promise of “change” to the Neo-Con imperial agenda and a resolve to reduce U.S. military involvement overseas. In reality, there are more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan now under Obama that at any time during the Bush administration.

At the height of the Bush administration’s 2007 “surge” in Iraq, there were 26,000 US troops in Afghanistan and 160,000 in Iraq, a total of 186,000.

According to DoD figures cited by The Washington Post last month, there are now around 189,000 and rising deployed in total. There are now 68,000 troops in Afghanistan, over double the amount deployed there when Bush left office.

What precisely would this extra tax be used to pay for? Namely, bribing the Taliban, paying off CIA drug lords, and protecting heroin-producing opium fields.

Numerous reports over the past two weeks have confirmed that the U.S. military is paying off the Taliban with bags of gold to prevent them from attacking vehicle convoys, proving that there is no real “war” in Afghanistan, merely a business agreement that allows the occupiers to continue their lucrative control of record opium exports while they finalize construction of dozens of new military bases from which to launch new wars.

The Afghan opium trade has exploded since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, following a lull after the Taliban had imposed a crackdown. According to the U.N., the drug trade is now worth $65 billion. Afghanistan produces 92 per cent of the world’s opium, with the equivalent of at least 3,500 tonnes leaving the country each year.

This racket is secured by drug kingpins like the brother of disputed president Hamid Karzai. As a New York Times report revealed last month, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a Mafia-like figure who expanded his influence over the drug trade with the aid of U.S. efforts to eliminate his competitors, is on the CIA payroll.

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky has highlighted in a series of essays, the explosion of opium production after the invasion was about the CIA’s drive to restore the lucrative Golden Crescent opium trade that was in place during the time when the Agency were funding the Mujahideen rebels to fight the Soviets, and flood the streets of America and Britain with cheap heroin, destroying lives while making obscene profits.

Any war surtax will merely go straight to maintaining the agenda that Obama inherited from Bush, the continued looting of Afghanistan under the pretext of a “war on terror” that, as revelations about bribing the Taliban prove, doesn’t even exist.

U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

 



War threat between Venezuela and Colombia increases

War threat between Venezuela and Colombia increases

UK Telegraph
November 15, 2009

Tensions between the countries reached a new high after the Colombian military arrested four Venezuelan soldiers, just days after Mr Chavez told his army to “prepare for war” with Colombia.

The Venezuelan ambassador to Bogota, Gustavo Marquez, said that the seriousness of the situation could not be overstated and that “there is a pre-war situation in the entire region”.

Diplomatic relations between the South American neighbours are frozen and on Saturday President Chavez escalated the war of words with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia by saying there was no chance of dialogue.

“Uribe is not a politician, he comes from the world of paramilitaries, of drug trafficking, of shady business deals, and he is capable of anything,” the Venezuelan leader said.

“He is a very dangerous man as he has no principles or ethics,” Mr Chavez added.

The broadside came after Colombia detained four members of the Venezuelan National Guard in a boat allegedly on Colombian territory in the remote border province of Vichada. Colombia said yesterday that it would deport the men back to Venezuela.

Tensions between Presidents Uribe and Chavez have escalated in recent months as the two leaders have become increasingly suspicious of each other.

Colombia’s Marxist rebels, the Guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN), are known to have bases within Venezuela from where they plan and launch attacks on Colombia’s US-backed army.

Mr Chavez hotly denies any links with the rebels, even though there have been seizures of Venezuelan arms and munitions in FARC camps.

Venezuela’s president is angry at an agreement signed earlier this month between Bogota and Washington under which Colombia allows the US military to use seven bases across the country, turning the Andean nation into America’s regional military hub.

Mr Chavez, who accused Washington of being behind a 2002 coup attempt, insists that the US is planning to attack Venezuela to secure control of massive oil reserves. The Venezuela leader believes that Colombia will now be the launch pad for any US attack.

President Uribe is trying to diffuse tensions since Mr Chavez began blocking the entry of Colombian goods, something which is costing the fragile economy hundreds of millions of pounds.

He stated that the captured Venezuelan soldiers would be returned as quickly as possible and “carry with them the message that here their affection for our Venezuelan brothers and that this affection is unquenchable”.

Mr Chavez has ordered another 15,000 soldiers to take up positions along the 1300-mile frontier, while Colombia has created a new division of its army to guard a strategic stretch of the border.

Analysts worry that Marxist rebel groups could manipulate the troop build-up by starting a firefight, sparking a war between the two countries.

 

Chávez tells Venezuela to get ready for war with Colombia


Colombian president Uribe meets with U.S. president Obama

Irish Times
November 10, 2009

VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT Hugo Chávez has told his country to prepare for a possible war with Colombia, as diplomatic and border tensions between the ideologically opposed Andean nations deteriorate to their lowest level in more than a year.

Mr Chávez used his weekly television show, Aló Presidente , to denounce an agreement between Colombia and the US that allows the US military to use seven bases in Colombia. Mr Chávez warned these could be used for an attack on Venezuela.

Ordering troops to the frontier, he said the army could not afford to waste a day and that “we must prepare ourselves for war and help the people prepare for war, because this is the responsibility of all”.

The Colombian and US governments insist the bases are only for use against drug traffickers within Colombia. But Mr Chávez has denounced the pact as part of a US plan to try to dominate a region that in recent years has moved out of its traditional Washington orbit under a new generation of left-wing leaders, of whom Mr Chávez is the most radical.

Supporting their claims about the bases agreement, the Venezuelans have cited a US air force document presented to the US Congress in May. It says one of the bases provides a “unique opportunity” for “conducting full-spectrum operations throughout South America”, which it describes as a “critical region” under constant threat from “anti-US governments”.

On his television programme, Mr Chávez said that “the government of Colombia is not in Bogotá, now it is in Washington”, and warned US president Barack Obama that any US intervention launched from Colombia would spark a “100 years’ war”.

Colombia said it would raise Mr Chávez’s comments with the UN Security Council and the Organisation of American States.

Last year Mr Chávez ordered troops to the frontier live on Aló Presidente following Colombia’s bombing of a rebel guerrilla base hidden on the Ecuador side of the two countries’ border.

This latest round of tensions started with the signing of the bases agreement at the end of last month, and deteriorated last week when Venezuela said Colombian right-wing paramilitaries were responsible for killing two Venezuelan soldiers on its territory.

Colombian rebels and paramilitaries operate right along the border with Venezuela. Leading political allies of Colombian president Álvaro Uribe face investigations into their alleged links with the country’s paramilitaries.

Colombia, meanwhile, accuses Mr Chávez of providing covert support to the Farc guerrilla group.

In recent years Venezuela has embarked on an arms buying spree which it says is necessary to offset strategically the US-bankrolled military in Colombia.

Colombia is the fifth-biggest recipient of US military aid after Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Egypt.

Colombia’s army is double the size of Venezuela’s and battle-hardened after decades fighting left-wing guerrillas in the continent’s most protracted insurgency.

Economic mismanagement means that Venezuela is heavily dependent on Colombian food imports despite its own vast tracts of rich tropical farmland.

Despite a decade of increasingly hostile relations, Venezuelan imports of Colombian foodstuffs have ballooned, accounting for most of the $7.2 billion (€4.8 billion) in bilateral trade between the two countries last year.

Castro:The Latin American Peoples Will Resist The Empire

Morales: U.S. Planning Coups in Latin America

Honduran President Victim of U.S. Coup: I’ve Been Gassed

 



U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

Aram Roston
The Nation
November 11, 2009

On October 29, 2001, while the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime’s ambassador in Islamabad gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat’s right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul.

But Popal was more than just a former mujahedeen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1997.

Flash forward to 2009, and Afghanistan is ruled by Popal’s cousin President Hamid Karza. Popal has cut his huge beard down to a neatly trimmed one and has become an immensely wealthy businessman, along with his brother Rashid Popal, who in a separate case pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn. The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals’ private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan. One of Watan’s enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies.

Welcome to the wartime contracting bazaar in Afghanistan. It is a virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers joining hands with former Taliban and mujahedeen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort.

In this grotesque carnival, the US military’s contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. “It’s a big part of their income,” one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts–hundreds of millions of dollars–consists of payments to insurgents.

Understanding how this situation came to pass requires untangling two threads. The first is the insider dealing that determines who wins and who loses in Afghan business, and the second is the troubling mechanism by which “private security” ensures that the US supply convoys traveling these ancient trade routes aren’t ambushed by insurgents.

A good place to pick up the first thread is with a small firm awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars: NCL Holdings. Like the Popals’ Watan Risk, NCL is a licensed security company in Afghanistan.

What NCL Holdings is most notorious for in Kabul contracting circles, though, is the identity of its chief principal, Hamed Wardak. He is the young American son of Afghanistan’s current defense minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, who was a leader of the mujahedeen against the Soviets. Hamed Wardak has plunged into business as well as policy. He was raised and schooled in the United States, graduating as valedictorian from Georgetown University in 1997. He earned a Rhodes scholarship and interned at the neoconservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. That internship was to play an important role in his life, for it was at AEI that he forged alliances with some of the premier figures in American conservative foreign policy circles, such as the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Wardak incorporated NCL in the United States early in 2007, although the firm may have operated in Afghanistan before then. It made sense to set up shop in Washington, because of Wardak’s connections there. On NCL’s advisory board, for example, is Milton Bearden, a well-known former CIA officer. Bearden is an important voice on Afghanistan issues; in October he was a witness before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Senator John Kerry, the chair, introduced him as “a legendary former CIA case officer and a clearheaded thinker and writer.” It is not every defense contracting company that has such an influential adviser.

But the biggest deal that NCL got–the contract that brought it into Afghanistan’s major leagues–was Host Nation Trucking. Earlier this year the firm, with no apparent trucking experience, was named one of the six companies that would handle the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to the web of bases and remote outposts scattered across the country.

At first the contract was large but not gargantuan. And then that suddenly changed, like an immense garden coming into bloom. Over the summer, citing the coming “surge” and a new doctrine, “Money as a Weapons System,” the US military expanded the contract 600 percent for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: “service members will not get food, water, equipment, and ammunition they require.” Each of the military’s six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360 million, or a total of nearly $2.2 billion. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10 percent of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defense minister’s well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold.

Host Nation Trucking does indeed keep the US military efforts alive in Afghanistan. “We supply everything the army needs to survive here,” one American trucking executive told me. “We bring them their toilet paper, their water, their fuel, their guns, their vehicles.” The epicenter is Bagram Air Base, just an hour north of Kabul, from which virtually everything in Afghanistan is trucked to the outer reaches of what the Army calls “the Battlespace”–that is, the entire country. Parked near Entry Control Point 3, the trucks line up, shifting gears and sending up clouds of dust as they prepare for their various missions across the country.

The real secret to trucking in Afghanistan is ensuring security on the perilous roads, controlled by warlords, tribal militias, insurgents and Taliban commanders. The American executive I talked to was fairly specific about it: “The Army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money.” That is something everyone seems to agree on.

Mike Hanna is the project manager for a trucking company called Afghan American Army Services. The company, which still operates in Afghanistan, had been trucking for the United States for years but lost out in the Host Nation Trucking contract that NCL won. Hanna explained the security realities quite simply: “You are paying the people in the local areas–some are warlords, some are politicians in the police force–to move your trucks through.”

Hanna explained that the prices charged are different, depending on the route: “We’re basically being extorted. Where you don’t pay, you’re going to get attacked. We just have our field guys go down there, and they pay off who they need to.” Sometimes, he says, the extortion fee is high, and sometimes it is low. “Moving ten trucks, it is probably $800 per truck to move through an area. It’s based on the number of trucks and what you’re carrying. If you have fuel trucks, they are going to charge you more. If you have dry trucks, they’re not going to charge you as much. If you are carrying MRAPs or Humvees, they are going to charge you more.”

Hanna says it is just a necessary evil. “If you tell me not to pay these insurgents in this area, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially.”

Whereas in Iraq the private security industry has been dominated by US and global firms like Blackwater, operating as de facto arms of the US government, in Afghanistan there are lots of local players as well. As a result, the industry in Kabul is far more dog-eat-dog. “Every warlord has his security company,” is the way one executive explained it to me.

In theory, private security companies in Kabul are heavily regulated, although the reality is different. Thirty-nine companies had licenses until September, when another dozen were granted licenses. Many licensed companies are politically connected: just as NCL is owned by the son of the defense minister and Watan Risk Management is run by President Karzai’s cousins, the Asia Security Group is controlled by Hashmat Karzai, another relative of the president. The company has blocked off an entire street in the expensive Sherpur District. Another security firm is controlled by the parliamentary speaker’s son, sources say. And so on.

In the same way, the Afghan trucking industry, key to logistics operations, is often tied to important figures and tribal leaders. One major hauler in Afghanistan, Kandahar (AIT), paid $20,000 a month in kickbacks to a US Army contracting official, according to the official’s plea agreement in US court in August. AIT is a very well-connected firm: it is run by the 25-year-old nephew of Gen. Baba Jan, a former Northern Alliance commander and later a Kabul police chief. In an interview, Baba Jan, a cheerful and charismatic leader, insisted he had nothing to do with his nephew’s corporate enterprise.

But the heart of the matter is that insurgents are getting paid for safe passage because there are few other ways to bring goods to the combat outposts and forward operating bases where soldiers need them. By definition, many outposts are situated in hostile terrain, in the southern parts of Afghanistan. The security firms don’t really protect convoys of American military goods here, because they simply can’t; they need the Taliban’s cooperation.

One of the big problems for the companies that ship American military supplies across the country is that they are banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle. That makes them ineffective for battling Taliban attacks on a convoy. “They are shooting the drivers from 3,000 feet away with PKMs,” a trucking company executive in Kabul told me. “They are using RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] that will blow up an up-armed vehicle. So the security companies are tied up. Because of the rules, security companies can only carry AK-47s, and that’s just a joke. I carry an AK–and that’s just to shoot myself if I have to!”

The rules are there for a good reason: to guard against devastating collateral damage by private security forces. Still, as Hanna of Afghan American Army Services points out, “An AK-47 versus a rocket-propelled grenade–you are going to lose!” That said, at least one of the Host Nation Trucking companies has tried to do battle instead of paying off insurgents and warlords. It is a US-owned firm called Four Horsemen International. Instead of providing payments, it has tried to fight off attackers. And it has paid the price in lives, with horrendous casualties. FHI, like many other firms, refused to talk publicly; but I’ve been told by insiders in the security industry that FHI’s convoys are attacked on virtually every mission.

For the most part, the security firms do as they must to survive. A veteran American manager in Afghanistan who has worked there as both a soldier and a private security contractor in the field told me, “What we are doing is paying warlords associated with the Taliban, because none of our security elements is able to deal with the threat.” He’s an Army veteran with years of Special Forces experience, and he’s not happy about what’s being done. He says that at a minimum American military forces should try to learn more about who is getting paid off.

“Most escorting is done by the Taliban,” an Afghan private security official told me. He’s a Pashto and former mujahedeen commander who has his finger on the pulse of the military situation and the security industry. And he works with one of the trucking companies carrying US supplies. “Now the government is so weak,” he added, “everyone is paying the Taliban.”

To Afghan trucking officials, this is barely even something to worry about. One woman I met was an extraordinary entrepreneur who had built up a trucking business in this male-dominated field. She told me the security company she had hired dealt directly with Taliban leaders in the south. Paying the Taliban leaders meant they would send along an escort to ensure that no other insurgents would attack. In fact, she said, they just needed two armed Taliban vehicles. “Two Taliban is enough,” she told me. “One in the front and one in the back.” She shrugged. “You cannot work otherwise. Otherwise it is not possible.”

Which leads us back to the case of Watan Risk, the firm run by Ahmad Rateb Popal and Rashid Popal, the Karzai family relatives and former drug dealers. Watan is known to control one key stretch of road that all the truckers use: the strategic route to Kandahar called Highway 1. Think of it as the road to the war–to the south and to the west. If the Army wants to get supplies down to Helmand, for example, the trucks must make their way through Kandahar.

Watan Risk, according to seven different security and trucking company officials, is the sole provider of security along this route. The reason is simple: Watan is allied with the local warlord who controls the road. Watan’s company website is quite impressive, and claims its personnel “are diligently screened to weed out all ex-militia members, supporters of the Taliban, or individuals with loyalty to warlords, drug barons, or any other group opposed to international support of the democratic process.” Whatever screening methods it uses, Watan’s secret weapon to protect American supplies heading through Kandahar is a man named Commander Ruhullah. Said to be a handsome man in his 40s, Ruhullah has an oddly high-pitched voice. He wears traditional salwar kameez and a Rolex watch. He rarely, if ever, associates with Westerners. He commands a large group of irregular fighters with no known government affiliation, and his name, security officials tell me, inspires obedience or fear in villages along the road.

It is a dangerous business, of course: until last spring Ruhullah had competition–a one-legged warlord named Commander Abdul Khaliq. He was killed in an ambush.

So Ruhullah is the surviving road warrior for that stretch of highway. According to witnesses, he works like this: he waits until there are hundreds of trucks ready to convoy south down the highway. Then he gets his men together, setting them up in 4x4s and pickups. Witnesses say he does not limit his arsenal to AK-47s but uses any weapons he can get. His chief weapon is his reputation. And for that, Watan is paid royally, collecting a fee for each truck that passes through his corridor. The American trucking official told me that Ruhullah “charges $1,500 per truck to go to Kandahar. Just 300 kilometers.”

It’s hard to pinpoint what this is, exactly–security, extortion or a form of “insurance.” Then there is the question, Does Ruhullah have ties to the Taliban? That’s impossible to know. As an American private security veteran familiar with the route said, “He works both sides… whatever is most profitable. He’s the main commander. He’s got to be involved with the Taliban. How much, no one knows.”

Even NCL, the company owned by Hamed Wardak, pays. Two sources with direct knowledge tell me that NCL sends its portion of US logistics goods in Watan’s and Ruhullah’s convoys. Sources say NCL is billed $500,000 per month for Watan’s services. To underline the point: NCL, operating on a $360 million contract from the US military, and owned by the Afghan defense minister’s son, is paying millions per year from those funds to a company owned by President Karzai’s cousins, for protection.

Hamed Wardak wouldn’t return my phone calls. Milt Bearden, the former CIA officer affiliated with the company, wouldn’t speak with me either. There’s nothing wrong with Bearden engaging in business in Afghanistan, but disclosure of his business interests might have been expected when testifying on US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After all, NCL stands to make or lose hundreds of millions based on the whims of US policy-makers.

It is certainly worth asking why NCL, a company with no known trucking experience, and little security experience to speak of, would win a contract worth $360 million. Plenty of Afghan insiders are asking questions. “Why would the US government give him a contract if he is the son of the minister of defense?” That’s what Mahmoud Karzai asked me. He is the brother of President Karzai, and he himself has been treated in the press as a poster boy for access to government officials. The New York Times even profiled him in a highly critical piece. In his defense, Karzai emphasized that he, at least, has refrained from US government or Afghan government contracting. He pointed out, as others have, that Hamed Wardak had little security or trucking background before his company received security and trucking contracts from the Defense Department. “That’s a questionable business practice,” he said. “They shouldn’t give it to him. How come that’s not questioned?”

I did get the opportunity to ask General Wardak, Hamed’s father, about it. He is quite dapper, although he is no longer the debonair “Gucci commander” Bearden once described. I asked Wardak about his son and NCL. “I’ve tried to be straightforward and correct and fight corruption all my life,” the defense minister said. “This has been something people have tried to use against me, so it has been painful.”

Wardak would speak only briefly about NCL. The issue seems to have produced a rift with his son. “I was against it from the beginning, and that’s why we have not talked for a long time. I have never tried to support him or to use my power or influence that he should benefit.”

When I told Wardak that his son’s company had a US contract worth as much as $360 million, he did a double take. “This is impossible,” he said. “I do not believe this.”

I believed the general when he said he really didn’t know what his son was up to. But cleaning up what look like insider deals may be easier than the next step: shutting down the money pipeline going from DoD contracts to potential insurgents.

Two years ago, a top Afghan security official told me, Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, had alerted the American military to the problem. The NDS delivered what I’m told are “very detailed” reports to the Americans explaining how the Taliban are profiting from protecting convoys of US supplies.

The Afghan intelligence service even offered a solution: what if the United States were to take the tens of millions paid to security contractors and instead set up a dedicated and professional convoy support unit to guard its logistics lines? The suggestion went nowhere.

The bizarre fact is that the practice of buying the Taliban’s protection is not a secret. I asked Col. David Haight, who commands the Third Brigade of the Tenth Mountain Division, about it. After all, part of Highway 1 runs through his area of operations. What did he think about security companies paying off insurgents? “The American soldier in me is repulsed by it,” he said in an interview in his office at FOB Shank in Logar Province. “But I know that it is what it is: essentially paying the enemy, saying, ‘Hey, don’t hassle me.’ I don’t like it, but it is what it is.”

As a military official in Kabul explained contracting in Afghanistan overall, “We understand that across the board 10 percent to 20 percent goes to the insurgents. My intel guy would say it is closer to 10 percent. Generally it is happening in logistics.”

In a statement to The Nation about Host Nation Trucking, Col. Wayne Shanks, the chief public affairs officer for the international forces in Afghanistan, said that military officials are “aware of allegations that procurement funds may find their way into the hands of insurgent groups, but we do not directly support or condone this activity, if it is occurring.” He added that, despite oversight, “the relationships between contractors and their subcontractors, as well as between subcontractors and others in their operational communities, are not entirely transparent.”

In any case, the main issue is not that the US military is turning a blind eye to the problem. Many officials acknowledge what is going on while also expressing a deep disquiet about the situation. The trouble is that–as with so much in Afghanistan–the United States doesn’t seem to know how to fix it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ1_eGqDZv4

Taliban Still Working for the CIA?

Taliban Find U.S. Military Ammo Dump

Tarpley: Alqaeda is the ‘CIA Arab Legion’

Afghans Trained By Blackwater Join Taliban

Is the Taliban on the U.S. Gov. Payroll?

 



Alex Jones Drafts Ron Paul for 2012 Presidency Bid

Alex Jones Drafts Ron Paul for 2012 Presidency Bid

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
October 29, 2009

On speculation that Congressman Ron Paul may soon announce his intentions to run again for President in 2012, radio host Alex Jones has urged that he do so in an effort to once again spread the message of liberty on a grassroots level. Ron Paul, Jones says, would be the only candidate to foster debate on real issues, and would be the only candidate to operate under the Constitution’s guidelines.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07vWM74PL-8

Though Paul was considered a long-shot leading up to the 2008 Republican primaries, he generated substantial fundraising and proved deadly against the milk-toast ‘Republican-in-name-only’ candidates that included one-time front runner Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and, of course, John McCain.

Alex Jones hopes to further spread the message of Ron Paul’s campaign, who has proved prescient on a wide-variety of issues where other candidates proved short-sighted and flat wrong, including the Dollar’s demise. The call to return to Constitutional government and otherwise revitalize freedom has been spread through decentralized groups all across the country as well as in Ron Paul’s on-going “Campaign for Liberty” and his son Rand Paul’s viable bid for U.S. Senate in Kentucky.

Now, with Barack Obama falling in the polls and ringing hollow on his promises, another opportunity has arisen for a truly Constitutional candidate to win the Presidency and wake mainstream America out of its spell.

Launching the campaign for 2012 in the near future would send shockwaves into the halls of political debate, in online searches for topics like “End the Fed” and would force the Mainstream Media to go into damage control as the unstoppable message from the bottom up seeks to reclaim our Republic.

Run Ron, Run!

 

Alex Jones: U.S. a powerslave serving aims of New World Order

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9urzpi6Oi7M

 



U.S. History They Won’t Teach In Schools

U.S. History They Won’t Teach In Schools

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-U5EZ-J75o

U.S. Military Kidnaps Honduran President

Morales: U.S. Planning Coups in Latin America

Iran Finds US-Backed Terrorists in Riots