A recent report from the Director of National Intelligence’s Open Source Center (OSC) indicates that opposition parties increasingly believe that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is strengthening the Taliban in an effort to bolster his own political power. The report also assesses that members of Karzai’s camp may be willing to work with militant forces to prevent rival political parties from gaining influence.
Open source reporting indicates the Afghan political landscape, presently dominated by four political groupings and a number of prominent politicians, is likely to undergo further changes in the lead-up to the presidential elections and withdrawal of ISAF forces in 2014. Differing views of the Taliban threat as ISAF withdraws is likely to help drive the realignment and consolidation of political forces. This realignment may result in two major groupings: President Hamid Karzai and allies keen on working with the Taliban versus former anti-Taliban forces and others opposed to the government’s alleged appeasement toward the militants. Such consolidation would likely lead the emerging generation of younger leaders to choose between joining one of the groupings or risk being marginalized at the national level. Four main political groupings — Karzai’s camp, the National Front of Afghanistan (NFA), the National Coalition of Afghanistan (NCA), and the Truth and Justice Party (TJP) — are currently dominating the Afghan political scene.
The Washington Post has changed significant portions of an article published earlier today regarding the CIA’s payment of large numbers of people within Hamid Karzai’s administration in Afghanistan. These changes occur mostly in the beginning of the article and substantially manipulate its content. Most notable among the changes is the complete elimination of a quote describing how “half of Karzai’s palace” is on the CIA payroll. This quote, from an anonymous U.S. government official, was replaced with a paraphrased statement that “a significant number” of officials in Karzai’s administration are paid by the CIA. This alteration is followed by a quote from a CIA spokesman, which does not appear in the original article, who says that the “anonymous source appears driven by ignorance, malice or both.” Another significant quote from this anonymous source, detailing how Kazai is “blind to about 80 percent of what’s going on below him”, was also completely eliminated from the article. There are also a number of smaller changes all of which are designed to eliminate the perception of ignorance, malfeasance, and public perception that the Afghan government is almost wholly owned by the CIA.