Citing former and current American officials, The New York Times reported Tuesday that Ahmed Wali Karzai, who by some accounts is substantially involved in Afghanistan's opium trade, has received regular payments from the CIA for much of the past eight years in return for services including helping recruit a paramilitary force that operates under CIA direction.
The CIA ties to Ahmed Wali Karzai have led to conflict within the White House, the report said, with critics of the relationship saying it suggests the United States is not doing all it could to eradicate the poppy trade, a major source of funding for the Taliban.
The report comes as the Obama administration considers whether to grant a request for tens of thousands of new troops by U.S. commanders in Afghanistan.
Some U.S. officials argue the relationship with Ahmed Wali Karzai will make it difficult for the United States to promote an effective central government in Afghanistan -- seen as an essential step to eventual U.S. withdrawal from the country.
"If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves," Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan, told the Times.
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