Biden Denounced for Seizing Afghan Assets

“I can’t think of a worse betrayal of the people of Afghanistan than to freeze their assets and give it to 9/11 families,” said one person whose brother was killed on Sept. 11.

Kabul, winter 2014. (Michael Foley, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Jon Queally
Common Dreams

Humanitarians — including those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks of 2001 — responded with condemnation Friday after it was reported that President Joe Biden has decided to permanently seize $7 billion of currently frozen Afghan assets even as the people of the war-torn and poverty-stricken nation suffer a broken economy, a collapsed healthcare system and widespread starvation.

According to The New York Times, the Biden administration will soon formally announce a plan to make half of the $7 billion available to pay off legal claims by those who lost families members on 9/11 while the other half would be set aside for humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people.

The Times reports, citing officials familiar with the matter, that Biden “will issue an executive order invoking emergency powers to consolidate and freeze all $7 billion of the total assets the Afghan central bank kept in New York and ask a judge for permission to move the other $3.5 billion to a trust fund to pay for immediate humanitarian relief efforts and other needs in Afghanistan.”

Critics were quick to denounce the move as cruel, given that the Afghan people themselves had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks that took place over two decades ago — and that those living in one of the poorest nations in the world should not be punished for the criminal acts of a small group of individuals, most of them from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. With the nation on the verge of collapse, economists have warned permanent seizure of these funds that otherwise could stabilize the Afghan central bank would further spell disaster for the nation’s economy.

Kevin Martin, president of the U.S. anti-war group Peace Action, said the motives of the Biden are clear but that the proposed move by the administration is deeply misguided.

“While it is, of course, understandable that some family members of those killed in the horrific 9/11 attacks want justice, the funds belong to the Afghan people, not the Taliban,” Martin told Common Dreams in an email Friday morning.

According to Martin, Biden only has it half right. “Releasing half the funds to address famine and economic collapse in Afghanistan is the correct—if overdue—decision, but all the money should be made available for that purpose,” he said. “Proper monitoring by the Afghanistan Central Bank, independent of the Taliban, and international accounting firms still operating in the country, can ensure the funds go to desperate people, and to jumpstart the failing economy.”

New York Times writer Max Fisher, in a social media post in response to the paper’s reporting, said Friday that “Afghans are starving not because of insufficient aid, but because the U.S. forcibly emptied govt coffers, triggering a currency crisis and shutting down govt salaries and services. This move is a death sentence for untold numbers of civilians, including many kids and unborn babies.”

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, agreed the move by Biden would represent a reckless and unjust approach. She also said the logic behind the asset seizure is contradictory.

“The U.S. is trying to have it both ways,” said Bennis. “They claim that the Taliban isn’t the legitimate government of Afghanistan so they won’t allow the Afghan people’s $7 billion in the U.S. central bank to be returned to Afghanistan.  But apparently the Taliban government is legitimate enough that U.S. officials can order that same money be used to pay off what the U.S. believes is the Taliban’s debt — its U.S.-ordered judgment.”

Muska Dastageer, a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan, tweeted:

As the Times explains, Biden has decided the U.S. government will “not object to any court decision to devote half of the money” seized to settle pre-existing legal claims by 9/11 families. But even some families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks say it would be horrible to have the increased suffering of everyday Afghans be the price for settling such claims.

“I can’t think of a worse betrayal of the people of Afghanistan than to freeze their assets and give it to 9/11 families,” Barry Amundson, who lost his brother on 9/11 and is a member of 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, told the Times. “While 9/11 families are seeking justice for their loss through these suits, I fear that the end result of seizing this money will be to cause further harm to innocent Afghans who have already suffered greatly.”

According to Bennis, who along with David Wildman co-wrote the book Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer, Biden is about to trigger a prolonged legal entanglement over the funds at a time when international aid groups, the United Nations, and public health experts are warning of a humanitarian crisis — among the very worst in the world—happening in real-time.

“The Biden administration says they’ll ask a judge to establish a fund for part of the money to be used for humanitarian purposes in Afghanistan — at some point,” said Bennis. “But the problem is that more than 22 million Afghans are facing starvation today. And as the bitter winter socks in, millions of families are or soon will be faced with choosing between heat and food, between risking the death of their children by freezing or by starvation.”

Echoing other critics of the decision by Biden, Bennis said there is simply no justification to punish “children and families who had nothing to do with the horrific crime committed on September 11, 20 years ago.”

Journalist David Klion responded to Friday’s developments by opining that after more than two decades of war and suffering triggered in 2001, “the entire population of Afghanistan could reasonably be considered 9/11 victims.”

This article is from  Common Dreams.

21 comments for “Biden Denounced for Seizing Afghan Assets

  1. February 14, 2022 at 15:08

    So kind of US Government to set aside half of Afghan people’s own money for humanitarian assitance. They are so compassionate. :\s

  2. robert e williamson jr
    February 14, 2022 at 15:07

    I don’t claim this man as “My” president, I never voted for him and I will likely not vote again in my life time unless I can vote for a viable candidate for change. I’ll be the judge of that and no one else.

    Judging on the work product emanating, it does reek, from D.C. for the last seven decades I see no hope of D.C. having the ability to turn things around quickly enough to prevent massive suffering by Americans.

    I figured from day one that if the Obama election didn’t result in significant change the U.S. might not get another chance. His election didn’t amount to much change and many aspects the government got further out of hand.

    I don’t see much use in discussing the next occupant of the White House. His election amounted to little more than a protest vote, resulting in a self serving circus. He and his opponent should have been disqualified from running based on their past “yellow histories”. Histories that the MSM got completely wrong.

    This election will be remembered for all the wrong reasons and occurred at a crucially pivotal point in U.S. history. We are effectively running crucially short of time to turn our government around and push it in the right direction. From what I’ve seen Deep State Greed Heads and those billionaire hawks of “blood lust” rule the day as mad men would. No chance of change there so we run out of time. Civil war comes to mind. Given the conditions country wide that exhibit an uniformed, under educated, tortured , heavily armed and most important regionally fractured populace, a civil war in the U.S. will be the same. Tantamount to a free for all blood bath. During which all the participants will b e targeted by the government and not much will get better and for the most part the populace will suffer miserably..

    This Biden move is beyond any human understanding. . The reason for it is “subterfuge “, a move to reinforce the propaganda spewed by the hawks and officials to cement the “State History” of the 911 event to fit the party line. A party line derived from another secretive investigation, of which some sections are still classified, and one that generates little or no public confidence.

    In the process dragging down the American reputation further into the abyss of world condemnation.

    I’ll never understand how Biden sleeps at night. Wake the hell up Joe! He wouldn’t if I had my way!

    One thing is so very painfully obvious to all at this point.

    America has been seen as the worlds policeman for far too long. As a result our leaders seem to assume they have become anointed judge and jury,. Right Joe. Might want to take a pole around the world to determine how that floats.

    We will soon see what dividends that pays. Just remember as goes the dollar, so goes the forlorn

    Thanks CN

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    February 14, 2022 at 14:33

    Another English word: a ganiff.

  4. vinnieoh
    February 14, 2022 at 10:53

    When this news first broke it put me at a loss for words. Today I am still struggling between disbelief, outrage, and shame.

    For my part I would like to tell the rest of the world that all Americans are not like this, but what could I offer as proof? The “greatest democracy in the world” continually facilitates this sort of cream to rise to the top.

  5. February 13, 2022 at 23:07

    Why does America; the Wealthiest Nation on Earth, have to Kill and Starve the Poorest Nations on Earth ? Like Afghanistan, Somalia , Yemen, and Vietnam. The Great American Empire is getting as Popular as a Turd in the Swimming Pool.

  6. Rob
    February 13, 2022 at 00:27

    Just when you thought that the leadership of the United States had reached the absolute nadir of their cruelty and stupidity, they show an ability to descend even lower. Biden has never been much of a humanitarian, but this decision is pure evil. Why not just nuke Afghanistan and put its long-suffering people out of their misery?

  7. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    February 12, 2022 at 20:21

    Le Nazgul sénile de Washington commet un acte criminel, le vol des actifs afghans, en le justifiant par un mensonge éhonté, odieux et ignoble: la cause des événements du 11 septembre 2001.

    La barbarie des affidés de la BÊTE occidentale n’a aucune limite, si ce n’est la destruction de notre HUMANITÉ, c’est-à-dire le néant.

  8. Realist
    February 12, 2022 at 14:49

    Just what was “Biden’s” mission supposed to be when he was selected to be president in the 2020 fiasco? Besides terminating Trump’s political career? He’s an absolute madman, creating chaos and harm to people with his every decision. He has America deliberately on the precipice of WWIII and seems obliviously proud of this.

    Where is the domestic opposition to this fool, be it political, economic, moral or even just philosophical? When are they going to emerge from the woodwork and say enough of this brinksmanship and outrageous bully boy behavior that tilts at windmills of its own contrivance and which will leave America not just a potential wreck of a country, but one to go down in history with Nazi Germany, which also insisted upon its own self-destruction through deception and malevolence.

    Europe, you had better jettison this maniac and his vainglorious plans from your list of “friends” and accomplices before your own page in the history books is forever sullied. Stop picking a fight with every potential competitor in sight and stop demonizing every country not run by your own flunkies that you have insinuated throughout foreign politics with non-stop meddling commissioned by Washington. And, yes, I know that “Biden” is not just the creation of one supremely vain, ignorant and foolish man, which is why it is in quotation marks. Like the rest of the deception it is the product of some insane inside committee, or the infamous “big club” that none of us will ever be a part of but will surely destroy us.

    • Daniel
      February 13, 2022 at 11:02

      Well said. These are deeply immoral criminals ‘leading’ us, corrupt to their cores — indeed insane, as you say. The only thing they seem to know how to do — on any subject — is make things worse while robbing us blind.

  9. rgl
    February 12, 2022 at 13:49

    Fuck America and all it stands for.

  10. Anonymot
    February 12, 2022 at 11:54

    As our various governments move from the grotesque to the outrageous, is it not time to get serious about who, what or by what mindset these decisions are made? It is not by Biden being a hack politician nor Trump being a not very bright Mafioso type. Neither the intelligence of Obama nor the low IQed W had the vast reserves of knowledge to handle the immense array of decisions these times require. So who has taken over the steering wheel while Presidents and Vices from Cheney to Pence are the prime focus of media attention; these powers who speak the speech that they are given and act out the brutality they are told must be performed?

    While that top coating of public office seems to be decision making their polish, has worn thin, they bathe in confusion. Democrats think deeply and talk on and on and on to inertia while the Republicans play dumb , skip the painful act of thinking before spewing forth their standard mantras , then act. So one group acts the intellectual as the other bullies and bludgeon, but the actions seem strangely similar.

    I’ve spent decades studying the political processes of our country and a clear answer emerges, but when it is brought forth everyone trembles like the monkeys of See Not, Hear Not, Speak Not. So we shall blunder on, amazed that we have built a system dependent on wars, that we have little compunction about starving out the remnant population of a nation we’ve destroyed, or that we are whipped into hysteria by a false flag by those very people behind all of our other foreign activities.

  11. mgr
    February 12, 2022 at 10:28

    Now Biden is even outdoing Trump in his depravity. Keep in mind that “aw-shucks” Biden is one of the “good guys,” empathetic, the “great unify-er” at home and abroad, completely different from that degenerate Trump… right.

    Welcome to the “rules based international order” offered and prosecuted by the US; “our rules, our orders.”

    Compare this to the Russian/Chinese joint proposal idea of a “just multi-polar system of international relations” and “international law-based world order” based upon a democratized United Nations. What a novel idea; international relations based on laws rather than “US rules” designed to serve itself. Jeez, we should give that a try.

  12. Andrew Nichols
    February 12, 2022 at 02:23

    Shameless scumbag. Imagine if Trump had done this. The outrage would be deafening. Shows once more the only promise he will keep is “Nothing fundamental is going to change”.

  13. renate
    February 11, 2022 at 22:30

    That is more like revenge on innocent Afghan people for the disaster of the retreat from 20 years long lost war. President Biden is evil and so are all the people around him. Have they no shame?
    One wonders what the pope thinks about this, should he be denied the sacrament of communion?

  14. John Gilberts
    February 11, 2022 at 21:21

    But America was founded upon the grandest of thefts and the greatest of genocides. One would expect no less of the seasoned old grifter and latest mass murdering monster of an American president we are told is so much better than the awful one before.

  15. jc
    February 11, 2022 at 17:11

    if you all figure who is control the US treasury then you will find who is behind this never US guv behavior…

  16. Dario Zuddu
    February 11, 2022 at 16:20

    Is there anyone out there who would like to wonder, or, better, ask President Biden himself why they don’t even consider having Saudi Arabia offer relief funds for the September 11 victims?
    The same country which has funded and supported radical jihadism for as long as we can remember, and the involvement of which in the 9/11 attacks themselves was constantly withheld from the nine eleven commission report?

    • Realist
      February 12, 2022 at 15:02

      The other victim they fleeced for this purpose was Iran!!! Which, of course, had nothing whatsoever to do with the outrage, yet billions was extracted from them in US courts. The government in Washington is quite transparently just a bunch of self-empowered gangsters. They don’t care who knows and dare all comers to try to do something about it. The national anthem of this country should be “I’m an Asshole” by Denis Leary.

      • Daniel
        February 13, 2022 at 11:09

        You said it…self-empowered gangsters. Once you see this truth, you can’t unsee it, though our ‘leaders’ work hard to disguise it with the theater productions they put, our perceptions reduced to how good their current cast of actor are. Regardless, the show goes on.

    • Bob Martin
      February 12, 2022 at 22:08

      Very good question. If we had real (i.e. independent) journalists, they would be asking this (and many other necessary questions) at White House press conferences. But we don’t.

    • February 14, 2022 at 15:12

      Because it will expose our own complicity in the creation of these groups. War is good business and we have to drum up business. So what if millions die or are displaced or are maimed for life and their countries destroyed; Our shareholders greed needs to be satisfied. It is sickening.

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