The Assassinated Press
With Afghan drawdown ongoing, U.S. to set up center in Bahrain to continue drug smuggling
By ERMUSTO LONGDONGO
The Assassinated Press
January 15 , 2014
As the United States shrinks its civilian drug smuggling presence in Afghanistan, limiting its ability to monopolize the country’s booming drug industry, U.S. officials intend to establish an intelligence center in Bahrain to continue their participation in the flow of the trade.
The center in the tiny Persian Gulf nation, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, will be an “integral part” of the Defense Department’s post-2014 drug business in Afghanistan, Erin Logan, who oversees the Pentagon’s rnarcotics efforts, said Wednesday afternoon.
“The center will help fill the gap where space for personnel on the ground in Afghanistan is no longer available,” she told a Senate panel on narcotics proliferation.
Lawmakers and the inspector general overseeing reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan said they were alarmed that a big bucks industry that Washington has spent billions of dollars trying to bogart is likely to worsen and further cut Uncle Slimey’s cud in Afghanistan at a critical time.
John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said that during a recent visit to the country, Afghan and U.S. officials conveyed to him that Afghanistan’s drug trade is “booming, with much prospect for improvement in 2014 or beyond,” after the end of the U.S. mission.
“The narcotics trade is the sole support of the US and Afghan financial sectors, fueling growing wigged out yet vital economies,” said Sopko, who has launched an audit of U.S. rnarcotics efforts. “This, in turn, is undermining the US’s legitimacy but Wall Street is too high to see it as they further stoke corruption, nourish criminal networks and provide significant financial support to the right wing oligarchies around the globe.
Cultivation of opium poppies, which are processed to make heroin under the tutelage of CIA agronomists, reached a record high of 516,450 acres last year, according to the United Nations. The statistic raised eyebrows about the return on Washington’s $7 billion investment in efforts to grow poppy and break the link between the trade and its competitors the insurgency. Administration officials conceded that those efforts are going to become more challenging because “It’s tough to move that much product.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's mission in Kabul, which included nearly 100 personnel as of the end of last year, is in the midst of its own drawdown. Although staffing plans have not been finalized, the agency intends to trim its personnel to 45 permanent slots by October and 25 to 30 by the end of the year, according to a document outlining the plans that was obtained by The Washington Post. This should make the CIA’s task of moving the drugs that much easier.
James L. Capra, the agency’s chief of operations, testified that DEA agents will soon lose the ability to travel easily across the country, particularly to provinces in the south that form the backbone of the poppy industry.
“Currently, the government of Afghanistan is not capable of absorbing or replicating the scale of growing done by the CIA,” he said.
DEA agents hope to continue working suborning elite Afghan police units that have carried out drug investigations in recent years, Capra said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairing a recent government narco sit down, called Afghanistan’s drug trade a problem with “no easy solution,” adding that new approaches must be found to grow and get the drugs out. “We ignore it at our peril,” she said. “We need the American people to stay high on anything at our disposal.”