|U.S.-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai should have a lovely visit with President Bush this week. Karzai is headed our way, already fuming about a report, leaked to the New York Times, (here's the original May 20 story) about apparently widespread U.S. abuse, if not torture, of prisoners at the Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan, including the deaths of two detainees.
Karzai apparently wants control of Afghan prisoners turned over to his government, and will reportedly demand as much when he sits down with Bush (for all the good that will do -- just ask Bush's bosom friend Tony Blair...)
Now, comes another NYT story, this time springing from a leaked State Department cable that blames Karzai's government for the explosion of poppy cultivation in our little "democratic" narco state:
The cable also faults Britain, which actually has more direct responsibility for the anti-poppy effort than American forces.
WASHINGTON, May 21 - United States officials warned this month in an internal memo that an American-financed poppy eradication program aimed at curtailing Afghanistan's huge heroin trade had been ineffective, in part because President Hamid Karzai "has been unwilling to assert strong leadership."
A cable sent on May 13 from the United States Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital, said that provincial officials and village elders had impeded destruction of significant
poppy acreage and that top Afghan officials, including Mr. Karzai, had done little to overcome that resistance.
"Although President Karzai has been well aware of the difficulty in trying to implement an effective ground eradication program, he has been unwilling to assert strong leadership, even in his own province of Kandahar," said the cable, which was drafted by embassy personnel involved in the anti-drug efforts, two American officials said.
A copy of the three-page cable, which was addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was shown to The New York Times by an American official alarmed at the slow pace of poppy eradication.
Anyway, should be an interesting confab. Just pay no attention to the smiley photo op afterward.