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Note to Readers: Who hasn’t received one—or 100—of those “Nigerian” letters offering you, in florid prose, millions of potential dollars and with nary a catch in sight? But who knew that the highest officials in Washington have been receiving them as well—and from our war zones rather than Africa. Today, TomDispatch.com is proud to release examples of such letters from a treasure trove of documents shown to us by the new website ScamiLeaks. (For unknown reasons, the British Guardian, the New York Times, and Der Spiegel all refused to take part in this process, and so it’s been left to TomDispatch to release a selection of them to the world.)
Though we lack the staff of those papers, we have nonetheless done due diligence. We investigated each of the letters that follow and now believe that Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, was never trapped in a Kabul airport bathroom, that “Iraqi parliamentarian” Sami Malouf does not exist, and that the letter writer who calls herself Serena Massoud could not be the lost granddaughter of the Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Massoud whom al-Qaeda operatives assassinated two days before the 9/11 attacks. Curiously enough, however, all the Washington or Pentagon scandals the letter writers mention involving lost, squandered, or stolen money turn out to be perfectly real. In fact, they represent one of the true scams of our time.
Below, then, are three of the letters we have chosen as representative from the enormous archive that ScamiLeaks will soon release to the world. We have touched none of them, not even to correct various obvious grammatical errors and misspellings. We have only added a small number of links not in the originals, so that readers can explore the corruption scandals the letter writers refer to. We do not know whether any of the Washington officials addressed responded to these letters or were taken in by them (as they evidently were by scam after scam in our war zones these last ten years).
Whatever you make of the three letters below, consider them collectively a little parable about the fallout from our now decade-old set of wars in the Greater Middle East. – Tom
To My Closest of Friends President and Professor Barack Obama,
I send this missive to you with deepest urgency. My embarrassment at importuning you in any way in your busy life is beyond expression. Please excuse my rushedness, but I, your friend and associate, Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, have lost my wallet, passport, and Kabul Bank deposit book in the men’s room of Kabul International Airport.
It is to my dismay to discover, in addition, that the $31 billion in small bills I had secured within the sleeves of my chapan, thanks to your most generous heart and the reconstruction abilities of the American contractor, is now gone as well. Without it, I cannot return to the presidential palace.Please let me ask whether you can at moment soonest respond at this email address and let me know that you are willing to deposit a new $33 billion in the Kabul Bank for me. I will then, of course, provide you with the necessary account numbers and transmission information. (Lest you would think me in any way dishonest, my dear friend, I hasten to point out that Kabul Bank is the shining light of Afghan Banking and the extra $2 billion above and beyond the lost $31 billion, are deeply necessary if I am to present alms on my way from the airport to the Palace.)