Afghanistan Drug Production Ignored, Funds al Qaeda, Says Former White House Drug Spokesman Bob Weiner; We 'Have Forgotten the Elephant in the Room'

Jun 08, 2010, 05:00 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, June 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former White House Drug Policy Spokesman Robert Weiner and Jonathan Battaglia, Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates, assert that drug production in Afghanistan, ignored by both the U.S. and Afghan governments, is funding al Qaeda. They say that we "have forgotten the elephant in the room." In an op-ed in Tuesday's Washington Times, they call on the U.S. military to step up opium and heroin eradication efforts in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, used to make heroin and fund al Qaeda and the warlords harboring al Qaeda leaders. Yet, "Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's policy of ignoring the rampant opium-heroin trade in Afghanistan has carried over. Neither president -- Afghanistan's nor our own -- mentioned the opium ravaging Afghanistan during a joint news conference at the White House last month, and none of the congressional leaders -- Majority or Minority, House or Senate -- included the drug issue in their statements during Afghanistan President Karzai's Hill visits," say Weiner and Battaglia.

"Department of Defense strategists believe it is better to let opium production run wild in Afghanistan in order not to disrupt the economy. Should we not be more concerned about the U.S. national security than the happiness of the Afghan farmer?  The reason we are there is not to help the farmers, but to slice the al Qaeda threat."

The authors quote former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, who said: "The war will be won when the international community demands the eradication of the opium and cannabis crops and robustly supports the development of alternative economic activity."

Weiner and Battaglia assert, "For American forces to make Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, who transits a third of the drugs, no threat to our national security, we must first cut the illegal livelihood that funds the terror groups out to get us, and not turn a blind eye to the problem."

Weiner and Battaglia ask the President to make opium eradication a central part of his new Afghan strategy: "For a U.S. military that has never been enthusiastic about drug eradication, this could be a tall order – one that could be given by the Commander-in-Chief."


Contact: Bob Weiner/Rebecca Vander Linde 301-283-0821/202-306-1200

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates