Tens of millions of US dollars in cash were delivered by the CIA in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to the office of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for more than a decade, according to the New York Times, citing current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.
The so-called "ghost money" was meant to buy influence for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but instead fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington's exit strategy from Afghanistan, the newspaper quoted US officials as saying.
"The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan", one American official said, "was the United States."
The CIA declined to comment on the report and the US State Department did not immediately comment. The New York Times did not publish any comment from Karzai or his office.