DEA Targets Afghanistan in Drug War

  DEA Targets Afghanistan in Drug War

Posted by FoM on March 14, 2002 at 12:04:44 PT
By Kevin Freking, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 

Narcotics agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration could soon be working in Afghanistan for the first time in nearly two decades, but there are limits to what the agency can do about next month's harvest of opium, Asa Hutchinson, head of the DEA, told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday.  That harvest will come primarily from the country's most war-torn and lawless regions and could be much larger than last year's harvest because the current government of Afghanistan has little power to enforce its ban on poppy cultivation and production.
"There are security concerns. This is an enormously dangerous neck of the woods, as we say in Arkansas," Hutchinson said. "But we have DEA agents who are ready, willing and anxious to be there because it is so important to our nation."  Hutchinson was on a panel that addressed the Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information. The topic was the worldwide connection between drugs and terrorism.  Hutchinson said Afghanistan's interim president, Hamid Karzai, has renewed the Taliban's ban on poppy cultivation. But other countries will have to supply resources to enforce the ban.  The law of supply and demand gives desperate farmers and drug dealers in Afghanistan the incentive to continue their efforts. Since last year, the price of opium has increased from about $30 a kilogram to about $330 a kilogram, according to DEA estimates.  Hutchinson said a proposed DEA initiative called Operation Containment would open an office in Kabul and expand existing offices in Asia and Europe. The establishment of an office in Kabul can be paid for within the current DEA budget, but Congress would have to approve a transfer of funding. Lawmakers on the subcommittee said they would work to make that transfer happen as soon as possible.  Martha Brill Olcott, senior associate for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the subcommittee that the United States has for too long ignored the security risks inherent in Afghanistan's drug trade. That's because most of those drugs went to Europe.  "Prior to Sept. 11, it was difficult to convince U.S. policy-makers that Afghanistan's drug industry was a U.S. problem, and even now, we have no concrete strategy to deal with renewed drug cultivation in Afghanistan," Olcott said.  The effectiveness of the current ban in Afghanistan depends upon the willingness of local warlords to go along, she said.  "But these men have absolutely no incentive to do so, as they are able to tax the crop or its transit, depending upon what part of the country they are living in," she said.  The United States and its allies have discussed paying farmers to grow other crops, or paying some of their expenses, but Olcott said that won't stop the drug trade.  "Economic incentives will work for the farmers only if the country's elite is forced to cease collecting from this highly lucrative trade," she said.  "As in all civilized countries, Afghanistan's drug dealers must be subject to arrest and lengthy incarceration. Pressing Hamid Karzai's government to punish Afghanistan's drug dealers will certainly cost it and us some friends."  Hutchinson said the DEA's focus is on fighting drug trafficking, but the agency's growth in war-torn regions of the world, such as in the Middle East and Asia, will help the agency gather more intelligence that can be used in the war on terrorism.  The president has requested an additional $35 million and 73 positions for next year to enhance intelligence gathering by the DEA.  Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (AR)Author: Kevin Freking, Arkansas Democrat-GazettePublished: Thursday, March 14, 2002Copyright: 2002 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.Contact: voices ardemgaz.comWebsite: Articles:Poppy Plant Returns to Afghanistan Bans Opium Poppy Growing, Trafficking Administrator Testifies on Taliban and Drugs

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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on March 15, 2002 at 06:00:33 PT:
How do you spell "Quicksand"?
(With apologies to Mr. Webster) A-F-G-H-A-N-I-S-T-A-NAsa's esprit de cops and confidence in his men is almost touching. But my mind keeps remembering Viet Nam. I remember very clearly early news reports showing paratroopers in their STRAC uniforms meeting with President Johnson just before they were being shipped off to the butcher's shop. So young, so completely unprepared for what awaited them. Needless to say, many of them didn't come back.Any Caucasian face that shows up in Afghanistan now is an automatic target for people who think it is an express ticket to Paradise to kill an infidel.I almost feel sorry for them. Almost...but not quite. 
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Comment #5 posted by mayan on March 14, 2002 at 17:33:34 PT
We know exactly where the opium is growing. We can see it from satellite view. It is not hidden by jungle foliage as is the coca in South America. If we wanted to spray it with the infamous "Roundup x 26" we could very easily. Or we could simply bomb it with the weaponry already over there.The thing is...the U.S. Government has no intention of destroying the opium, just like they have no real intention of destroying Columbia's coca. Like Chronwell said, Asa is complicit in drug running & has been for a long time. That's why the Bush family made him head of the DEA. They knew from his Mena days that he was one of the few people in the nation who could pull off what they are attempting to pull off right now. The G is the most sophisticated cartell in the world...isn't it obvious?Don't think the G is complicit? Just ask Ken Bucchi.
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Comment #4 posted by BGreen on March 14, 2002 at 15:56:37 PT
Look out
The Afghans are not like the Amerikan people you've terrorized, Agent of death Hutchinson, so you better be glad you've got crazy agents who "are ready, willing and anxious to be there because it is so important to our nation." The Afghani people have proven themselves by decimating the Soviet army.Your agents are going to die horrible deaths, and then Bush is going to unleash an attack upon Afghanistan that is bloodier than anything we've seen yet. He's already threatened nuclear attacks against non-nuclear countries, so this isn't out of the question.
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Comment #1 posted by Chronwell on March 14, 2002 at 13:25:50 PT:

Hutchison is wicked
This same man, Asa Hutchison, the fearless drug-war man from AK stood during the 1980s by while tons of coke were flown into Bill Clinton's CIA airport in Mena, AK. Now he will go to Afghanistan and dictate "drug policy" to Asians when he and Ill Bill were basically cooperating with men selling coke to American citizens. Check out for more on the Mena, AK airport. 
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