(Article changed on March 20, 2013 at 15:13)
Afghan President Karzai's s accusation that the US was colluding with the Taliban to build the case for staying in the country longer was met with outrage from US commentators.
On the surface and to this outside observer, it appears that Karzai has gone way off the reservation, perhaps more so than he has in the past...I cannot see how we could work with such an apparently delusional leader much longer,
Karzaid said last Sunday in a televised speech:
The bombs that were detonated in Kabul and Khost were not a show of force, they were serving America...It is their slogan for 2014, scaring us that if the US is not here our people will be eliminated," (see "Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai accuses US of Taliban collusion")
New Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel responded to the speech by saying:
"I told the president that it was not true that the United States was unilaterally working with the Taliban,
Karzai's remarks recalled an explosive 2010 report by the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, chaired by Congressman John Tierney, which revealed that one of the largest, if not the largest, sources of funding for the insurgency is pay-offs for safe passage of truck convoys carrying the bulk of US military supplies into the country. The report is entitled "Warlord Inc."
The report focused on a $2.1 billion contract from the Defense Department with Host Nation Trucking (HNT,) an Afghan trucking company, which transported 70 percent of the total goods and materiel distributed to U.S. troops in the field. The report revealed that the pay-offs were taking place with the full knowledge of the Pentagon, whose 484th Movement Control Battalion of the US Army was the subject of an extensive investigation by subcommittee staff. The subcommittee found that the initial evidence of protection payments being made to warlords connected with the insurgency came from the Afghan contractors themselves.
It is deemed too dangerous for US contractors, and even for US military, to attempt the crossing of the vast distances between bases, in which helicopter cover can depend on the vagaries of extreme and frequently changing weather. Warlord Inc. stated:
When [private truck convoy] contractors self-reported to the military that they were being extorted by warlords for protection payments for safe passage and that these payments were "funding the insurgency," they were largely met with indifference and inaction."
The report noted that:
"Under normal circumstances, contractors do not volunteer to the government that they might be breaking the law; in this case, [the] contractors repeatedly did just that. Their reports fell on deaf ears."
It has been clear that the Obama administration is aware of the practice since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in congressional testimony in 2009:
You offload a ship in Karachi [Pakistan] and by the time whatever it is -- you know, muffins for our soldiers' breakfasts or anti-IED equipment -- gets to where we're headed, it goes through a lot of hands. And one of the major sources of funding for the Taliban is the protection money.
The increase in Taliban funding since the US "surge" to 100,000 troops helped make possible the skyrocketing number of IED (roadside bomb) attacks and suicide attacks since 2008. Most of the supplies are trucked in by convoy through Pakistan, with a smaller amount coming in through a northern route going through Uzbekistan.