As always, follow the money

Former Blackwater gets rich as Afghan drug production hits record high

Yet there is a clear winner in the anti-drug effort – not the Afghan people, but the infamous mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater.

Statistics released on Tuesday reveal that the rebranded private security firm, known since 2011 as Academi, reaped over half a billion dollars from the futile Defense Department push to eradicate Afghan narcotics, some 32% of the $1.8bn in contracting money the Pentagon has devoted to the job since 2002.

The company is by far the biggest beneficiary of counternarcotics largesse in Afghanistan. Its closest competition, the defense giant Northrop Grumman, claimed $250m.

That’s a lot of money. What has been the result?

Far from eradicating the deep-rooted opiate trade, US counternarcotics efforts have proven useless, according to a series of recent official inquiries. Other aspects of the billions that the US has poured into Afghanistan over the last 13 years of war have even contributed to the opium boom.

In December, the United Nations reported a 60% growth in Afghan land used for opium poppy cultivation since 2011, up to 209,000 hectares. The estimated $3bn value of Afghan heroin and morphine represents some 15% of Afghan GDP.

The extent of the money-grabbing connected to the drug war is mind-boggling.

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40 Responses to As always, follow the money

  1. divadab says:

    It’s a make-work project – a perfect one, since it never ends. Except for the collateral damage – which for the mercenary killers, is more like a fringe benefit than a problem.

    The other problem is that this shit becomes structural – built in to the system. Hard as hell to end it because it gets bureaucratic inertia – and a small fraction of the money kicked back to the guys who make policy guarantees the policy continues. Filthy corruption – parasites on the body politic.

  2. darkcycle says:

    We are protecting someof those opium crops. The eradication is focused on those arwas thought to be supporting the taliban. The US was looking the other way since most of that crop was headed towards the Russian federation and europe. That it iscoming here now was not supposed to haappen

    • Frank W. says:

      Heroin is all the rage in much of the country. Not that it’s spreading, but politicians are talking about it now like they’re in a “Streets of San Francisco” episode. And by politicians, I mean scumbags looking for money, power, and fame. Sabet should go jump on that bandwagon.

    • kaptinemo says:

      I wish I could engage in the kind of ‘magical thinking’ that is involved in almost all anti-drug strategies…and get paid for it. Thinking like, “Only the bad people will be hurt by the drug laws.” The way a five-year-old would think.

      You could put 5-year-olds in as heads of the program and achieve the same results. And instead of 6 or 7 figure salaries, they could be compensated with popsicles. Much cheaper.

      Doesn’t replace all the dead innocents and squandered treasury so far, though.

  3. Servetus says:

    The US government pays Academi née Constellus Group née Xe née Blackwater and other service organizations to protect the Afghan drug business, not disrupt it. The government is such a liar.

    Destruction of the economic lifeblood of a failed state does not help anyone’s situation. The opium trade is how Afghan chieftains in tribal areas get paid, it’s how business gets done, because opium is easy to create, conceal from theft, and transport through mountainous regions.

    If the Taliban can temporarily put a halt to the opium business in all of Afghanistan, why can’t the United States? It’s the politics of compromise, of 1950s Viet Nam, of 1960-70s Burma, all over again.

    Oddly enough, since Afghanistan was designated a failed state by world powers beginning in 2001, international law is seen by other nations as having no influence or purview there. What that means from a legal standpoint is that under its own interpretations of international law, the United States can claim to operate legally in that besieged country when it ignores and/or supports the Afghan drug trade.

  4. kaptinemo says:

    OT: I said they would do something totally nuts in public. I said they would. And here it is:

    I have been following the Sisley Incident since the petition to support her work in AZ. I just now received an update from them. A better link for the video supplied comes from RawStory:

    Maricopa County AZ attorney calls a veteran a ‘domestic enemy’ for smoking cannabis

    This is that….person…who said this. Nothing mentioned in his bio that says he’s ever carried a rifle for Uncle.

    I have no words, only cryogenically cold-blooded FURY, the kind that feels like fire but still lets you plan tactics.

    Here’s their contact information. Veterans! All veterans! Since we can’t do the real thing, lock and load those rhetorical rifles and ‘get some, get some get you some!’ Let them know how you feel about someone who hasn’t served talking like to someone who has.

    And this SOB who wipes himself with the Constitution as a DrugWarrior dares to use it as a defense.

  5. Joe says:

    Having spent a year over there from 2010 to 2011 i remember massive poppy fields everywhere. We weren’t supposed to mess with the farmers lively hood. I figure that blackwater was brought on to do high level interdiction. What is funny is many of the people we were working with at the time such as karzi’s brother ahmed wali were pretty much suspected as being the kingpins of the heroin trade.

    • Matt says:

      The obvious conclusion to draw about Afghanistan is that it is now the US’s opium manufacturing facility. A narcostate. The US imposes the worldwide regulatory and legal system that creates and maintains the black market. They benefit from it in several ways. Afghanistan a failed state? No, a country that is constantly imposed on by others for geopolitical reasons. They have never had a chance to stabilise. Any member of the armed forces that has served in Afghanistan must realise the distinct possibility that they were sent there purely to safeguard opium manufacturing. Nothing whatsoever to do with “a war on terrorism”. The real, supreme kingpins of the opium trade, the good ole US of A.

  6. allan says:

    Yo Malcolm… rumor mill has it you been made to walk the FB plank. What’d you do? heh… pissin’ people off again.

    • MajadGilligan says:

      Hi Allan, thanks for your concern!

      FB, blocked me from posting on newspaper threads (using their system) about a year back, but this latest development was voluntary. My health has been failing me lately. I was blessed with rickets at an early age which is now (unexpectedly) advancing on me in my twighlight years. I’m in constant pain (bones and muscles) and feeling rather sorry for myself. These last few days, I can’t even dress myself. It will improve again, like it always does, but each cycle continues to get deeper and darker.

      I’ll still be here in the background, and will even post something from time to time. But for me the war is over. It’s been such an honor being part of all this; you guys are fucking amazing. Love to you all!

      • darkcycle says:

        Oh no! Damn… Sure hope you feel better Malcolm. It won’t be near as much fun busting prohib nuts without your input! Well, you know where we are, stop in often if you can…

      • Matthew Meyer says:

        Sorry to hear it. Wishing you firmeza…

      • Common Science says:

        Always enjoy seeing you out there Malcolm – boilerplating troglodyte articles left, right & centre. It’s an honour to share a number of comment sections with you. We can only speculate how many people were quietly turned around on the basis of your studiously framed facts.

        Peace, relief and love to you always.

      • thelbert says:

        the couch loves you right back, malcolm. i hope you have access to plenty of cannabis.

      • kaptinemo says:

        Oh damn. Why does bad shite happen to good people? All our hopes for a speedy recovery

      • You are awesome! My best to you.

      • tensity1 says:

        Ah, so that’s why I saw the handle of Malcolm disappear from comments, but then saw the occasional comment under a new one. No mistaking your style, Malcolm. Damn shame about your health. The best to you. Kick back, relax, and enjoy watching your work and influence bring about the end of insane drug policy. Thanks to you and many others–here and elsewhere–this insanity WILL end.

  7. darkcycle says:

    Well it looks like the President’s Executive Grow room has been busted…maybe. Still, I wanna know what they were growing.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Now that’s just plain funny! But it’ll never fool anyone who’s been a long term resident because there’s just no such thing as J Street. There is a Jay Street but it isn’t part of the alphanumeric protocol for naming streets in D.C.

      Could somebody please ‘splain to me why the Secret Service has a uniformed division? It seems to me that the cat’s out of the bag when uniformed agents drive around in marked cars. While you’re at it could you also ‘splain how the cat got into the bag in the first place? TIA!

      • kaptinemo says:

        They threw catnip in first. No coercion – or heavy thick gauntlets – needed.

      • darkcycle says:

        To answer your question Duncan, the Secret Service uniformed division is primarily tasked with investigating currency crimes like counterfeiting.

  8. Duncan20903 says:


    Since the topic is money let me link to information about a relatively new bailment currency. This one is going into the “good grief, my fiat is in the repair shop again” category:

    one of the more actively traded commodity-backed currencies on the cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex, has been gaining traction. The coin is backed by 1 gram of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis.

  9. Sukoi says:

    This is HUGE if true:

    “Did The Federal Government Just Admit That Marijuana Can Shrink Serious Brain Tumors?”

    It’s time to pounce if this is true as they have now admitted to the schedule I lie…

    • DonDig says:

      “Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming urged caution, arguing that “Approval of medical marijuana use at this time is premature until the research is more conclusive about benefits and risk.””

      Honestly, with NIDA and our whole federal prohibition establishment looking for some serious risks for at least the last 40 + years, they would have come up with a smoking gun by now if there was one to be found. On the contrary, more than one blue ribbon panel has studied the issue and recommended decriminalization. (Google the Shaffer drug library for references.

      The research is actually pretty conclusive: the downside is relatively minimal, and far less harmful than locking people up and destroying their chances for employment. Time to move on from the anti-freedom policies masquerading as a public safety crusade, commonly called the War on Drugs.

      Otherwise we can simply keep empowering the drug cartels. This whole prohibition thing is why street gangs have made enough money to feel the need to defend it and themselves by buying machine guns.

      I’m obviously preaching to the choir here, but posted this after the above article.

    • My question is: how are medical marijuana patients going to feel about having to renew their pot prescription with their doctors every month like the DEA requires for opiates? How does a plant like this end up in any of the schedules? We need some new laws from someone with a brain. I think that leaves out most of Washington and the Hill. I would love to be surprised, but I am not holding my breath.

      • Common Science says:

        Oops, someone just got canned!

        Sukoi and TC – both your links provided (as well as the one provided by dailycaller) to the admission from NIDA that marijuana indeed shrinks tumours, are now directed to a ‘Page not found’ at the site.

    • DdC says:

      Cannabis Shrinks Tumors: Government Knew in 74

      Scientists Re-Re-Re-Discover Cannabis Stops Metastasis!

    • kaptinemo says:

      The prohibs know we’re ‘on their six’ and closing fast.

      It would seem that they are realizing down deep that the jig is up. This is ‘preventative’ damage control, letting some water out from behind the dam to reduce pressure.

      Some of us have known for decades what the public is only now dimly perceiving: that it was defrauded of a potential cure for cancer that could have saved tens of millions of livesand possibly have led to other discoveries, as well, of equal importance.

      This is why I keep saying that they have much to atone for, as you can bet they have already developed other hemp-based medicines and technologies, and they are being withheld for reasons of ‘national security’, meaning protecting some corporation’s profits.

  10. Tony Aroma says:

    Finally! I wonder what took them so long.

    Justice Department says it can still prosecute medical marijuana cases

    The Justice Department says a congressional restriction on medical marijuana enforcement does not apply to individual cases like proceedings against three dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay Area… it stops the department from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” contrary to some claims from people being prosecuted that the amendment blocks such prosecutions.

    I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me prosecuting individuals would be about the ONLY way they could impede a state’s ability to carry out their mmj laws.

    • divadab says:

      These fuckers inhabit a parallel prohibitionist universe where “words mean what we want them to mean, bitches!”.

  11. claygooding says:

    I know the feeling Malcolm,,running the page at 125% so I can read what I am typing,,out of breath just from walking 100 ft,,aches and pains where none have ever been,,,has me checking for a toe tag before celebrating another fine day.
    Hope you get too feeling better and forget how to feel bad,,now there is memory we could all afford too lose.

    • MajadGilligan says:

      That’s it, fuck it, I’ll be doing my best to keep posting –In fact, I just managed a few hours doing just that. Thanks, all of you, for the kind words of support. Stinging nettles will be poking their little heads through soon (great for lowering inflammation). They got me up and crawling last spring, can’t see why it shouldn’t work again. Those dark clouds are lifting as I type.

      • Irie says:

        We are all pulling for you Malcolm, keep on keeping on, hope to be reading more of your comments and info for many, many, many years to come, you are one of the best at it!

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