"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."An example : NCL Holdings, a licensed security company in Afghanistan, has been awarded hundreds of millions of dollars - a 600% increase for the proposed new "surge" - to handle the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan. Its chief principal is Hamed Warduk, the American son of Afghanistan's current defense minister, who graduated as valedictorian from Georgetown University in 1997, earned a Rhodes scholarship, and interned at the American Enterprise Institute, where "he forged alliances with some of the premier figures in American conservative foreign policy circles, such as the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick".
Watan Risk, another security company run by Karzai's family relatives - convicted heroin traffickers, controls the road to Kandahar because of its principal's alliance with a local warlord who really controls the route, extorting $1500 per truck for passage to Kandahar.
NCL pays Watan Risk $500,000 a month for protection.
"The security firms don't really protect convoys of American military goods here, because they simply can't; they need the Taliban's cooperation.
"Most escorting is done by the Taliban," an Afghan private security official told me. "Now the government is so weak," he added, "everyone is paying the Taliban."
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."
Afghanistan - the "good war".
Would the Taliban collapse entirely if not financially supported by the US government?
Is all that is necessary for the collapse of the Taliban is for the troops to leave?
Malalai Joya has been telling us this for years.
She is speaking in Vancouver tonight at 7pm at St. Andrew's Wesley Church at Nelson Street and Burrard.
West End Bob will be there - naturally he'll be wearing a disguise.