As President Karzai seeks re-election next month, he has reportedly pardoned the nephew of his campaign manager and four other soldiers convicted of transporting $3 million worth of heroin to the U.S.
Also cited by U.S. authorities in Afghanistan is the case of a regional governor who was found with nine tons of opium in his office but allowed to resign and take a new position in the Afghan Senate. He was never charged with a crime.
In another example of the pervasive drug corruption, a U.S. State Department official told the Senate investigators that police chiefs in poppy growing areas "pay as much as $100,000 to get appointed to a job that pays $150 a month, with the knowledge that they will recoup far more in bribes and kickbacks."
Afghanistan now accounts for 90 percent of all the heroin sold in the world and the report estimates the profits for the traffickers to be between $3 billion to $4 billion a year.
More than half of the significant attacks on coalition troops and Afghan soldiers occurred in the southern provinces, where the report said poppy cultivation and heroin manufacturing are concentrated.
Yet, according to the report, for most of the eight years since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, American and NATO forces "ignored the drug trade flourishing in front of their eyes."
Senate investigators found that the months-old Obama administration strategy "is still developing, and years of neglect must be undone." But the report said the U.S. military is finally learning to work alongside agents from the DEA, who previously had been given short shrift by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top generals.
"No longer are U.S. commanders arguing that going after the drug lords is not part of their mandate," the report said.