Wired’s Danger Room November 21, 2012
Inside a compound in Kabul called Camp Integrity, the Pentagon stations a small group of officers to oversee the U.S. military’s various operations to curb the spread of Afghanistan’s cash crops of heroin and marijuana, which help line the Taliban’s pockets. Only Camp Integrity isn’t a U.S. military base at all. It’s the 10-acre Afghanistan headquarters of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.
Those officers work for an obscure Pentagon agency called the Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office, or CNTPO. Quietly, it’s grown into one of the biggest dispensers of cash for private security contractors in the entire U.S. government: One pile of contracts last year from CNTPO was worth more than $3 billion. And it sees a future for itself in Afghanistan over the long haul.
Earlier this month, a U.S. government solicitation sought to hire a security firm to help CNTPO “maintain a basic, operational support cell” in Kabul. Army Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, explains that “cell” doesn’t kick in the doors of any Afghan narco-kingpins. It handles the more mundane tasks of overseeing the contracts of the Pentagon’s counter-narcotics programs, from “training and linguists, and [providing] supplies, such as vehicles and equipment.” The solicitation, however, indicates those services aren’t going anywhere: When all the options are exercised, the contract extends through September 29, 2015, over a year past the date when Afghan soldiers and cops are supposed to take over the war. And the “government preferred location” to base CNTPO? Camp Integrity.
The envisioned Pentagon counter-narco-terrorism staff is pretty small: only two to four personnel. But protecting them at Camp Integrity is serious business. The November 6 solicitation calls for a security firm that can “provide a secure armory and weapons maintenance service, including the ability to check-in and check-out weapons and ammunition,” particularly 9 mm pistols and M4 rifles; and to provide “secure armored” transportation to the CNTPO team — primarily “in and around Kabul, but could include some remote locations.”
CNTPO has a longstanding relationship with Blackwater, the infamous security firm that is now known as Academi. In 2009, it gave Blackwater a contract to train Afghan police, and company employees used that contract to requisition guns from the U.S. military for their private use. Although that contract was ultimately taken out of CNTPO’s hands, the office’s relationship with Academi/Blackwater endures. Last year, Academi told Danger Room it has a contract with CNTPO, worth an undisclosed amount, to provide “all-source intelligence analyst support and material procurement” for Afghanistan. An Academi spokeswoman, Kelley Gannon, declined to comment on Academi’s relationship with CNTPO, or whether it’ll bid on the new contract
Washington Post January 26, 2012
MEXICO CITY — With the Iraq war over and the American presence waning in Afghanistan, U.S. security contractors are looking for new prospects in Mexico, where spreading criminal violence has created a growing demand for battle-ready professionals.
After years of lucrative work in the Middle East and Central Asia, where their presence has been occasionally marred by incidents of excessive force and misconduct, contractors and private security firms of varying sizes and specialties are being drawn into a battle closer to home. But Mexico’s restrictive gun laws mean that foreign contractors must enter the bloody drug war unarmed as they take jobs ranging from consulting and technical training for the Mexican military to guarding business executives from kidnapping gangs and extortionists
Virginia-based DynCorp International has job openings in Mexico for aviation instructors and mechanics. The Manhattan consulting firm Kroll hires anti-kidnapping specialists to protect Mexican business executives. MPRI, a company based in Alexandria, is training Mexican soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques.
IS THE ENEMY OUR OWN STUPIDITY?
America’s recent attack, augmented by top line Afghan army troops, against the massive Taliban enclave in the city of Marjah, population 80,000, a city that has been an enemy stronghold for years may not have happened at all. Can anyone prove it? Nobody had ever heard of Marjah before or even knew a city was there. Nobody knew it was a Taliban stronghold either. One thing we can easily figure out from the total lack of reporting, other than our “screw ups,” killing the usual civilians, using our over reliance on technology, is that the sham of the operation was simply to give the mercenary army of the Northern Alliance, an army no American soldier would turn its back on, a casual airing.
A trip to Vegas would have been cheaper and we would have found just as many Taliban. What we did find is drugs, drugs everywhere, the embarrassment of our deceitful policy to build narcotics production from nothing to massive levels. The further risk of peppering the internet with more photos of American, Afghan, British or Canadian troops tiptoeing through the poppies had to be avoided at all cost. Thus a tissue thin cover story about poor farmers and their reliance on opium for a living was spun to the public, a story based on lies.
WHAT ARE WE REALLY INTO?
We have turned Afghanistan from a haven for a few foreign fighters, bin Laden included, given safe haven under strict parole, no training facilities, monitored daily under threat of expulsion, a country with a strict Islamic government actively rejecting opium production, western technology and the human rights of its women, into a sewer of drug dealers, crooked contractors, terrorist training camps and spies. We originally handed the country over to warlord drug barons and criminals and eventually melded Hamid Karzai, a know moderate and very well know weak leader into the dupe of a defacto dictatorship built around the city of Kabul. For years, America ignored an entire nation, an error of massive proportions that has exploded in our faces. Other than Bush era stupidity and hubris, what was our rationale?
OIL, GAS, DRUGS, AND BETRAYAL
Bush settled into the poorly managed war in Afghanistan at the behest of Israel and India. Israel was chasing gas pipeline revenue and India needed a base of operations to train guerrillas to attack Pakistan. In the process, absolutely everyone involved was going to get rich peddling heroin into Russia by mule and running it by the ton into Western Europe and America in through every means possible including, we are told, using rendition flights as drug couriers. Now that these flights have been “privatized” for some reason, it could actually get worse, if that is possible.
Since day one of the American war, the primary goal has been to push opium production to maximum levels, restructure it as the number one agricultural crop of Afghanistan and to build a permanent tribal war to cover open involvement in this massive multi-billion dollar initiative through purposeful mismanagement, misjudgment and sheer idiocy.
NO WAR CAN BE FOUGHT IN AFGHANISTAN AS THINGS NOW ARE
We have recently learned, again, that our military leadership in Iraq had become corrupted in every imaginable way. The current round of investigations will end the careers of hundreds of officers and only proves that the new “privatized model” being used by the Pentagon to artificially suppress the actual number of troops involved in a conflict by supplanting the majority of military functions, including military intelligence, transport and logistics, administration and even some combat operations with private contractors and mercenaries, is a ruse. We don’t fool enemies anymore. It is always assumed the enemy is Congress, the American People and our allies.
Some of the contracting firms, notably KBR, Haliburton and Blackwater, but others also, performed dismally, over billed by billions and led to a culture of corruption that tore at the core of our Army, reducing effectiveness massively instead of supplementing and supporting. This “deconstructionism” cost billions and left us in a shambles, a shambles that has moved onto Afghanistan where things have only gotten worse.
We spend as much time briefing our military on “keeping their mouths shut” about corruption as we do combat.
Iraq had only Shiites and Sunnis. Afghanistan is filled with warlords, Islamic insurgents, Israeli and Indian spies, the scum of the earth packaged as United Nations workers, American mercenaries, India diplomats and tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of gun toting criminals who will kill their own mothers for 5 dollars. War attracts this kind of crowd but it took America’s decision to build drug trafficking to unprecedented levels to make the environment totally unviable for any military operations. Was it planned? It couldn’t have happened this way otherwise.
Did the US plan it alone? Not hardly. India was involved from day one, whispering in Bush’s ear about how bad things were, tens of thousands of foreign fighters building nuclear weapons in caves. They made it all up, like they made up the stories about how unsafe Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is. Only an administration with absolutely nobody in charge with any education or experience could fall for any of this. Look at the real history of Rumsfeld and Cheney, the “brain trust” that created this mess. These are little but blustery windbags who couldn’t keep up a conversation at dinner.
India and now Israel have continually pushed to keep Pakistan drowning, facing enemies on both sides, and Karzai was a leader India knew it had in its pocket, has played along. His own family is rumored to run much of the nation’s drug business and Karzai himself went to university in India and has always hated Pakistan, suspecting them of killing his father. India has been given free rein of the country and is arming and training terrorists at war against Pakistan or so we like to tell ourselves. Actually, we don’t know who they are arming or what they are doing.
Weapons are flowing into the region and Americans are being murdered. It would be a shame if the weapons, such things as components needed for building IEDs and suicide vests were to actually come from American allies. We have some experience with this, having armed Saddam ourselves, arming him with bio-weapons, nerve gas and worse, much of it sold through relatives of 2 American presidents. Don’t expect to read this story either. Ever wonder why it was so important to silence Saddam?
The only information we get is from “private intelligence contractors” who are likely involved in the drug trade themselves. Everyone knows this but turns a blind eye, that many people are getting paid out of this
THE REAL DRUG WAR
What does it take to build a massive drug operation like this with thousands of hectares under production? Now that heroin production has been established inside Afghanistan, massive profits can be realized but the farmers themselves, the ones we are worrying about so much receive almost nothing for their poppies. They are actually paid better for growing wheat, an honest crop that brings high prices and is needed locally.
Where does the money come from? There was never an infrastructure in place that could organize production on a national scale, process heroin, ship it around the world and bank the billions of dollars in a world where strict money laundering procedures are in effect. There is certainly one now. I would start searching every politician on a junket to the region, especially some of the Americans who stop off at Tel Aviv on the way back. I would search them very carefully.
When international controls make it impossible to move hundreds of millions of dollars via the SWIFT system, negotiable instruments in paper form, such as Standby Letters of Credit and Bank Guarantees are used to move massive amounts of money. Only a VIP can carry such a thing without risk. The banking world is very aware of these transactions as is international law enforcement. However, it is powerless to act against the rich, powerful and righteous.
PLANNING TO LOSE
The only way money can keep flowing, drug money, massive contractor payoffs, money to rig elections and the Fog of War to make it all possible, the only way chaos can be maintained is by keeping a war going with phony victories every so often and the appearance of building a nation, a nation with no economy, no cohesive institutions and no leadership. Karzai is perfect for this, a classic “asset.”
As there never was a real enemy, no major leader of the Taliban, no “big kahuna” so to speak, especially since the death of bin Laden, not even Mullah Omar, defining an enemy or a victory would be impossible anyway. It gets worse when you have indefensible border on both sides, Pakistan and Iran and are fighting an enemy that can melt into the civilian population for 2 years to reemerge victorious while we are away playing tennis. Yes, Iran is being attacked also. They say Israel is doing it.
We have some experience with such things. We called it Vietnam.
The current plans, military, political and economic are ill advised, impossible to execute and blatantly dishonest in measure and application. They are a sham.
LEAVING A VIABLE NATION
Nobody is going to survive the worldwide flood of narcotics from Afghanistan, not untouched. Every family will suffer at some level, whether through drug crime, corrupted officials or watching their children sink into a life of addiction.
When some of the most powerful nations on earth send their most corrupt elements into a region, allow them to establish a narco-kingdom defended by the most powerful military on earth with the world’s most skilled intelligence agencies either complicit in operations or “stood down” by their “private sector” surrogates, expect the worst. Killing is a kindness compared to narcotics addiction. One addict can murder an entire extended family. Several addicts can turn any community into a sea of misery and despair.
Imagine that much of the destruction being done, not only to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the world at large is being done in the name of democracy and religion.
GUNS AND DRUGS HAVE TO GO
Farmers and herdsmen don’t need anti-aircraft weapons, RPGs and automatic rifles. An Afghan herdsman can kill a predator at 600 meters with a hundred year old rifle. Anyone that can’t make a living without growing opium poppies, anyone given the opportunity to live otherwise, is an enemy and must be destroyed. As it looks now, the root of the problem and the leadership of the threat to world civilization is drugs, not insurrection. Perhaps we might want to see if we, ourselves, have become the enemy. We train military and police that give weapons to terrorists, in fact, many are terrorists as we have found.
WHY POLICE AFGHANSITAN WHEN WE CAN’T EVEN POLICE OURSELVES
The news loves reporting on “collateral damage.” A building is hit, a family is killed or a patrol attacks a village where insurgents and civilians are intermingled. Afghanistan is only an outpost of crime, the real criminal headquarters exists in a ring of cities, Washington, New Delhi, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Zurich, Brussels, Baghdad and Kabul.
The crimes? Material support of terrorism, drug running, murder, anything you can imagine including overlapping conspiracies involving massive bribery, kidnapping, torture and endless war being fed, not out of confusion or policy errors but out of greed and deceit.
We have Chicago out of the 1920s all over again on a global scale with no Eliot Ness to turn to. No law enforcement body, American or international has made any attempt to approach what is going on, not when the criminal gangs often hide behind badges themselves, those and the cover of national intelligence agencies, private contrating firms that have been placed above all laws and terrorist organizations that may well be more business partners than enemies.