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Dirty Wars, Filthy Hands: 5 Unsavory Ways America Conducts Its Global War on Terror

America's allies are terrorists, warlords, and corrupt officials, plied with bounty payments and quid-pro-quo assassinations.

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The recent revelation that the Central Intelligence Agency has handed tens of millions of dollars over to the offices of the president of Afghanistan should come as no surprise. The CIA has a long history of this sort of activity. And most importantly, it’s the latest reminder of how America’s global “war on terror” has been forged through backroom deals, cold hard cash and the fostering of corruption.

From Yemen to Afghanistan to Somalia, America has prosecuted its perpetual war the usual way U.S. foreign policy is conducted: partnerships with unsavory leaders who are corrupt and commit abuses. Here are five striking examples of how the U.S. global war has been characterized by unsavory activity since 2001.

1. Bounty Payments For Alleged Terrorists

Cash payments in Afghanistan aren’t limited to the CIA paying off corrupt Afghan government officials. The lure of money played a major role at the start of the war on Afghanistan when the U.S. was looking for suspected terrorists to arrest and eventually throw in Guantanamo detention camp. The U.S. offered thousands of dollars to people to turn in alleged terrorists; 86% of all Guantanamo prisoners were people who were captured by bounty hunters, according to a report published by Seton Hall University in 2005. Many of them ended up being innocent of any crime--another clear example of how money is a corrupting tool in America’s never-ending global war.

The U.S. paid off Afghan warlords to capture people they suspected of having a role in terrorism. The payments ranged from $3,000 to 25,000, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. also gave money to Pakistani security forces to do the same. The AP article on bounties for people who ended up at Guantanamo reported that “a detainee who said he was a Saudi businessman claimed, ‘The Pakistani police sold me for money to the Americans.’ ‘This was part of a roundup of all foreigners and Arabs in that area,’ of Pakistan near the Afghan border.”

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf admitted the bounty payments to security forces in his memoir, published in 2006. “We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse U.S. of not doing enough in the war on terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the Government of Pakistan,” he wrote.

2. Secret Blood-Soaked Deal With Pakistan

Despite the on-again, off-again nature of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, the country has been a major partner in the U.S. “war on terror.” The country’s tribal areas have been pounded by American drones. While the Pakistani government has never outright admitted that it accepts all drone strikes, their former president said it signed off on at least some. And Pakistan has never shot down a U.S. drone, is told about strikes in advance and even clears its airspace so drones can fly unimpeded.

The American program of drone strikes in Pakistan--which has killed between 2,541-3,533 people, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism--started out with a secret, blood-soaked deal which wasn’t revealed until this year in a book by New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti. Here’s how the deal went down: in 2004, the Pakistani government wanted a tribal leader allied with the Pakistani Taliban dead. Nek Muhammad had been leading a fight against Pakistani troops in the largely ungoverned tribal areas of Pakistan. And for a few years, the government had balked at allowing the CIA to wage a campaign of drone strikes.

But all that changed with a secret deal: the CIA would kill Muhammad in exchange for the use of airspace for its drones. Despite the fact that Muhammad was thought to be more a Pakistani internal problem than a threat to U.S. security, a drone ripped through his compound, killing him and two young boys. That paved the way for a ferocious campaign of U.S. drone strikes in the country that continues today.

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