Interview with CIA Veteran Michael Scheuer
'Only the Taliban Are Not Corrupt'
The CIA is alleged to have been paying an aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for information. Former CIA officer Michael Scheuer spoke to SPIEGEL about why fighting corruption in Afghanistan is all but impossible.
SPIEGEL: The CIA is alleged to have paid Mohammed Zia Salehi, an aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, for information. Has the CIA damaged the Americans' credibility?
Michael Scheuer: That's absolutely good recruitment. I think you recruit whoever gives you access to a target. It might be someone who is a terrorist or it might be someone who's a corrupt official. I think any other intelligence agency would be delighted to have someone to give them information about what Karzai is thinking because he's such a dishonest man.
SPIEGEL: The US now has to face accusations that it is financing the very corruption it is promising to fight.
Scheuer: Not really. President Obama knew about this. His intelligence advisors knew about this. If he's smart I'm sure the president would want to have somebody close to Karzai to know what's going on. The US government and other governments are lying when they say that they can clean up corruption and win the war.
SPIEGEL: Is Washington being energetic enough in trying to fight corruption?
Scheuer: We're really not in a position to push these people. Who's going to replace them? There isn't anyone less corrupt. Probably the only incorrupt people in Afghanistan are the Taliban. If you want no corruption, give the government back to the Taliban.
SPIEGEL: Salehi, a high-ranking member of Afghanistan's National Security Council, has allegedly been on the CIA payroll for years. Do you think he will be put on trial?
Scheuer: I would think that there's not going to be a trial. Salehi knows so much about what goes on in that government and what's been stolen and who's doing the stealing, that if he got on a witness seat, it might as well be Karzai himself.