US Lets Corrupt Afghan Officials Off the Hook

Cases will be worked behind closed doors to appease Karzai
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2010 9:27 AM CDT
Robert Gates and Hamid Karzai give a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Sept. 2, 2010.   (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi)

(Newser) – The Obama administration intends to dial back its attempts to clean up Hamid Karzai’s government, sources tell the Washington Post. Senior administration officials say they’ve generally agreed that instead of prosecuting allegedly corrupt Afghan officials, they should work out backroom compromises that won’t embarrass Karzai. “The current approach is not tenable,” says one administration official. “What will we get out of it? We'll arrest a few mid-level Afghans, but we'll lose our ability to operate there.”

Karzai has pushed back against US efforts to curb corruption, particularly in the wake of the arrest of one of his palace aides. “We need to convince him we’re not on a witch hunt,” says the US official. But many in the military and State Department think corruption is driving Afghans into the Taliban’s arms. “The Afghans want to see their leaders held to account,” said one US official. “They don’t want these cases swept under the rug.”

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