Fun Times With Presidential Pardons

by Joshua Foust on 7/6/2009

According to the Boston Globe:

When five drug traffickers in military uniforms were caught transporting heroin in a police truck in 2007, it was a victory for a dogged team of Afghan investigators and their US mentors who are waging a Quixotic battle against narcotics, the nation’s largest industry.

The men were prosecuted by a special drug court that the US government has spent tens of millions of dollars developing as a bulwark against corruption. They were sentenced to between 16 and 18 years in prison.

But in April, Afghan president Hamid Karzai pardoned the five men. One was the nephew of a powerful politician managing Karzai’s reelection campaign, and the presidential decree ordering their release notes that they had ties to a well-respected family, according to a senior Afghan official.

Those pardons – and at least five others in recent weeks – have outraged US officials working to combat drug trafficking in Afghanistan, the world’s biggest supplier of heroin and opium, and raised fears that Karzai will set more traffickers free in a bid to curry favor with influential families before the presidential election on Aug. 20.

Well as long as we’re still bulldozing the poppy fields of small farmers in the south and interdicting the drug lords to go on trial, I guess we have the opium problem under control.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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