Rep. Henry Hyde is urging Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to change the U.S. strategy against heroin production in Afghanistan. Hyde (R-Il.), who heads the House International Relations Committee, says record opium poppy harvests show efforts to target farmers are not working, reports USA Today. He urges the military to help agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) take out drug kingpins and heroin processing centers. The current program focuses on low-level poppy farmers.
Hyde echoed concerns voiced by many U.S. officials – including Rumsfeld – that drug money is aiding a resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. A recent United Nations report said an estimated 407,724 acres of opium poppy were grown in Afghanistan this year, up 59 percent from 2005 and more than double the acreage farmed in 2000, before the U.S.-led assault on the former Taliban government.