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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 11/29/2010

WikiLeaks: Ahmed Wali Karzai wanted polygraph

By Jeff Stein

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, asked a senior U.S. official for a polygraph to clear his name of allegations of drug-trafficking, according to one of the secret diplomatic cables released Sunday by WikiLeaks.

Karzai’s request came during a wide-ranging, one-on-one talk last Feb. 23 with Frank Ruggiero, then the U.S. government’s senior civilian in southern Afghanistan. The half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, "AWK," as he is referred to in the cable, is president of the Kandahar Provincial Council. He is also a U.S. intelligence asset, according to several authoritative accounts.

“Unprompted, AWK raised allegations of his involvement in narcotics, telling [Ruggiero] that he is willing to take a polygraph anytime, anywhere to prove his innocence and that he has hired an attorney in New York to clear his name,” said the cable, marked “Secret” and signed by the then-deputy American ambassador to Afghanistan, Francis J. Ricciardone.

Karzai, the cable continued, “dismissed the narcotics allegations as part of a campaign to discredit him, particularly by the media, saying the allegations are ‘like a spice added to a dish to make it more enticing to eat.’"

Last June Karzai and his multimillionaire businessman brother Mahmood, who has also denied corruption allegations, hired Gerald Posner, a lawyer and author of several books, including “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK,” to represent him. Posner had recently resigned as chief investigative reporter for The Daily Beast following allegations of plagiarism against him.

“No one connected to the U.S. government asked AWK to take the polygraph after he offered it,” Posner said in an email Monday.

“As a matter of fact,” Posner added, “he has also offered to several news organizations in the U.S. (New York Times, Fox News, New York Post, etc.) to take a polygraph when there has been contested facts, under the following condition: the same polygraph examiner test the anonymous sources for the papers/TV and the results be determinative as to whether a correction/retraction would run.”

None of the news organizations took up the offer.

Posner also asserted that a U.S. official in Afghanistan recently “warned” Karzai that the WikiLeaks cables “would reflect an opinion about you we held at an earlier time, but which is not the case today.”

“Of course, that officer might have just been trying to do some damage control vis-à-vis WikiLeaks,” Posner added. “But I do know that the US military -- including Special Operations and Intel -- are very, very pleased with AWK during the past couple of months [for] his help on the surge around Kandahar.”

According to the State Department cable, Karzai suggested the U.S. “pay mullahs to preach against heroin, which would reduce demand for poppy cultivation.”

By Jeff Stein  | November 29, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence, Lawandcourts, Media  
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