staff and news service reports
updated 12/2/2010 8:26:06 PM ET 2010-12-03T01:26:06

Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan has offered to resign his post ahead of potentially damaging revelations in an upcoming WikiLeaks release, Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

William Crosbie has warned Ottawa that information in one of the U.S. diplomatic cables could damage his country's relations with Afghanistan, the newspaper reported.

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In a yet-to-be-released document, the ambassador reportedly was very critical of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and his powerful family, the newspaper reported.

"My words about Karzai and the influence of his family may attract attention, and they will be damaging for our relations with him and his government if they do so," Crosbie said in a note to Ottawa, a copy of which the newspaper obtained.

'Potentially cataclysmic fallout'
The envoy worried about how Karzai would react to his comments.

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"Much depends on how Karzai reacts to the WikiLeaks. Will they cause him to take steps that will be unacceptable for our ongoing support? There are several critical decision points in the coming weeks," the newspaper reported.

Crosbie said U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry briefed Kabul diplomats on "potentially cataclysmic fallout" from the whistle-blower's revelation, the newspaper reported. Eikenberry reportedly said he was afraid that the revelations could antagonize Karzai and force him into a stand-off with Western allies.

The Globe and Mail reported that in one cable, Crosbiecriticizes Karzai and his family, including his half-brother and Kandahar power-broker Ahmed Wali Karzai.

"The message is a report of a lengthy meeting on Feb. 20, 2010, in which I speak in very critical terms about the misuse of power by Karzai and his family (AWK is named) and urge the international community to oppose Karzai's attempts to take control of the electoral law in advance of the [parliamentary] elections," Mr. Crosbie wrote, according the The Globe and Mail.

American criticism
WikiLeaks has also revealed stinging criticism of Karzai by American diplomats.

The New York Times reported Thursday thatafter earlier glowing praise for Karzai, Eikenberry offered blunt criticisms of himin a July 2009 cable.

“It remains to be seen whether Karzai can or will refrain from this ‘blame America’ tactic he uses to deflect criticism of his administration,” Eikenberry wrote , according to the Times' story. “Indeed, his inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building and his deep seated insecurity as a leader combine to make any admission of fault unlikely, in turn confounding our best efforts to find in Karzai a responsible partner.”

The Times also reported that British, Australianand Arab state diplomats also expressed exasperation with Karzai.

A cable released Tuesday said President Karzai freed dangerous detainees and pardoned suspected drug dealers because they had connections to powerful figures.

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The cable, which supports the multiple allegations of corruption within the Karzai government, said that despite repeated rebukes from U.S. officials in Kabul, the president and his attorney general authorized the release of detainees.

"Both authorize the release of detainees pretrial and allow dangerous individuals to go free or re-enter the battlefield without ever facing an Afghan court," said the cable written on Aug. 6, 2009 by Frank Ricciardone, deputy U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

The policemen were tried, convicted and each was sentenced to 16 to 18 years in prison, but Karzai "pardoned all five of them on the grounds that they were distantly related to two individuals who had been martyred during the civil war," the cable said.

According to the cable, Karzai also tampered with the narcotics case of Haji Amanullah, the son of a wealthy businessman and one of the president's supporters.

"Without any constitutional authority, Karzai ordered the police to conduct a second investigation which resulted in the conclusion that the defendant had been framed," Ricciardone wrote.

He wrote that intelligence reports indicated that Karzai also was planning to release Ismail Safad, a drug trafficker sentenced to 19 years in jail. Safad was a priority target for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency who was arrested in 2005 with large quantities of heroin and weapons.

Abdul Makhtar, deputy director of the Afghan prison department, said Safad was still incarcerated at Pul-i Charkhi prison, the main detention facility in Kabul.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: WikiLeaks’ latest: Afghanistan a 'cesspool'

  1. Closed captioning of: WikiLeaks’ latest: Afghanistan a 'cesspool'

    >>> as we mentioned, as all of this plays out around the globe, the secret documents keep tumbling out of wikileaks onto the web and newspaper front pages. the diplomatic cables revealed just today are all about afghanistan , a nation where the u.s. is in year nine of a costly war. afghanistan is depicted as a cess pool of corruption and everything is for sale, and its leader, hamid karzai , as unstable and erratic. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has been going through this latest round of documents. with us again from the washington newsroom, andrea, good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. we knew the karzai regime was bad, but these cables show just how corrupt u.s. officials believe it really is. according to one cable cited by "the new york times" tonight, after afghanistan 's new cabinet took office last january, the u.s. embassy wrote home that the agriculture minister appears to be the only minister that was confirmed about whom no allegations of bribery exist. the u.s. ambassador carl eikenberry wrote in july of 2009 , it remains to be seen whether karzai will refrain from this blame america tactic he uses to deflect criticism of his administration. his inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles and his insecurity as a leader, combined to make any admission of fault unlikely. an august of 2009 report says karzai pardoned five border police caught with 273 pounds of heroin in their vehicle. before the august election in 2009 , $600 million was drawn out of afghan banks with hundreds of millions routinely flown out of the country. according to "the new york times," a cable quoted one afghan official explaining that there are four stages of which his colleagues skim money from u.s. development projects. when contractors bid on a project, at application for building permits, during construction, and at the ribbon cutting ceremony . this year, the white house has noticeably pulled back from overt criticism of karzai , acknowledging the conflict as between pressuring karzai to clean up the pressure and trying not to alienate him any put as the u.s. hopes to begin withdrawing u.s. troops next summer. brian?

    >> andrea mitchell in washington with the latest round of leaks. andrea, thanks.

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