Internet whistleblower WikiLeaks has started to release quarter of a million confidential US diplomatic cables, detailing embarrassing and inflammatory episodes in what the White House has condemned as a "reckless and dangerous action".
Ahmed Wali Karzai has long been dogged by allegations of unsavoury links to Afghanistan's lucrative opium trade and private security firms.
But as a powerful figure in Kandahar, where US forces are leading the fight to break a nine-year Taliban insurgency, Western officials have kept quiet in public on the president's younger half brother's tainted record.
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Leaked cables from the US embassy in Kabul now reveal their true feelings in moves that could complicate already strained relations between Washington and Karzai at a key juncture in the war.
"While we must deal with AWK (Ahmed Wali Karzai) as the head of the provincial council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker," said one note that followed a meeting between the preside