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The CIA has been trying to buy its influence over the Aghan government by  secretly funneling tens of millions of dollars to President Hamid Karzai several times over the last decade. According to the New York Times, the cash payments have  been delivered to the president since the start of the war in Afghanistan.

While it was reported that the agency has shown Karzai financial support, new information reveals that the payments were bigger, and made more often, than previously known. “We called it ‘ghost money,’ ” said Khalil Roman, a former staff member of the president. Roman worked with Karzia from 2002-2005. “It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

The wads of cash –all kept off the books– were transported in suitcases, backpacks, and even plastic bags. But making the payments may not have given the CIA the influence over Karzai’s inner circle it desired. “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States,” noted one American official.“We paid them to overthrow the Taliban.”

The U.S. wasn’t alone in its payoff scheme. Iran has paid as much as  $6 million a month to one of the Karzai’s top aids starting in 2003, but has since suspended the payments. Ironically, the U.S. previously slammed Iran for trying to buy the loyalty of the Afghan government, while keeping the CIA bribery plot under wraps.

Regardless of their attempts, Karzai’s allegiance wasn’t up for sale. Sources told the Times that the funds “fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.”

Karzai confirmed the payout earlier today, but claimed that it wasn’t allocated for personal use. “It was used for different purposes: operational, assistance to injured people, rental costs and other goals. This was efficient assistance and we appreciate it,” he said in a statement.

Photo: AP