CIA spending on Afghanistan
The New York Times
The news that the Central Intelligence Agency has been spending lavishly in Afghanistan should come as no surprise. The agency went to work in the country right after Sept. 11, 2001, and has played a dominant covert role hunting down al-Qaida and the Taliban ever since, while the Pentagon and other agencies have pursued more transparent military and development operations costing many billions of dollars.
Even so, details of the agency's involvement recently reported by Matthew Rosenberg in The Times are eye-popping and infuriating. For more than a decade, the agency -- using suitcases, backpacks, even plastic bags -- has made monthly cash payments to the offices of President Hamid Karzai amounting to tens of millions of dollars. One Karzai aide called it "ghost money" because "it came in secret, and it left in secret," although now that it has been reported publicly, Karzai has owned up to it.
While it is not unusual for intelligence agencies to pay money for information or other assistance, the scale and brazenness of the operation are indefensible. ...
Congress should publicly call the CIA to account. Especially at a time of economic hardship at home, what possible justification is there for continuing to spend millions of dollars in ways that are at such cross-purposes with American principles and interests?