CIA give Afghan warlords Viagra in exchange for information on Taliban.
By Toby Harnden in Washington.
4:38PM GMT 26 Dec 2008.
“Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people – whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” one veteran CIA officer told The Washington Post .
According to the newspaper, pills to boost the libidos of Afghan tribal patriarchs are the latest in a long line of inducements including medicine or operations for family, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions and visas.
In one case, a warlord aged 60 who was struggling to satisfy his four younger wives was also holding back information that could be crucial to American interests.
A clandestine CIA operatives who was visiting sensed an opportunity and reached into his bag for a small gift of four blue pills. “Take one of these,” he said. “You’ll love it.”
Four days later, the CIA man returned to a beaming warlord – whether there were any smiles form his wives was not reported. The warlord furnished the CIA with invaluable details of Taliban supply routes and movements before requesting more pills.
More traditional CIA bribes involved money and guns. But they can be problematic because the weapons might be used against American forces and money can compromise an informant who is not careful about how visibly it is spent.
“If you give an asset $1,000, he’ll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone,” Jamie Smith, a former CIA officer, told The Washington Post .
“Even if he doesn’t get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it.”
The trick was to identify a means of pleasing the CIA source enough to guarantee his loyalty without making it obvious to others that he’s being rewarded.
“You’re trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere.”
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