The possibility that the United States is receiving intelligence from a suspected Afghan drug trader raises "serious questions about the information Congress is receiving," the chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday.

The New York Times' recent discovery that Ahmed Wali Karzai -- brother to Afghan President Hamid Karazi -- is on the CIA payroll has riled many on Capitol Hill today. Although Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Wednesday took a more tempered tone, advising lawmakers not to prematurely condemn Wali Karzai, he is now calling on the Obama administration to reveal to Congress the extent of its relationship with the alleged informant.


“Senior American officials have told me repeatedly that there is no hard evidence linking Ahmed Wali Karzai to drug trafficking," Kerry said in a statement.

"However, after reading press accounts which allege that Mr. Karzai has been on the payroll of the CIA, one of the agencies gathering intelligence about narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan, I have serious questions about the information that Congress is receiving," he added.

Wali Karzai's suspected involvement in Afghanistan's opium market is important, given the degree to which the drug trade dominates the local economy and funnels money to terrorist groups in the region. The Times' article alone estimates millions of dollars in opium money have exchanged hands since the United States entered the country in 2001, and combating trafficking is likely to be part of the Obama team's forthcoming, new strategy for Afghanistan.

The sheer magnitude of that situation alone, explained Kerry, ultimately proves why the Obama administration and Congress must now take the Times' article -- and observers' accusations about Wali Karzai's behavior -- very seriously.

“Reducing corruption and stopping the bribes from drug traffickers are absolutely essential to developing an effective Afghan government," Kerry said. "Just this week, three DEA agents gave their lives in the fight against drug trafficking, a chilling reminder of the sacrifices American civilians and troops make in Afghanistan."