Viagra Anti-Terrorist Weapon

The CIA has figured out a way to use sex as an interrogation tool in a way that’s likely to elicit chuckles rather than horror. WaPo’s Joby Warrick begins with a story about giving an Afghan chieftain for Viagra tablets.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won. While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country’s roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.

In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency’s operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said. “Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people — whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours. Like other field officers interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity when describing tactics and operations that are largely classified.

Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, a country where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics. If the Americans don’t offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and even Iranian agents in the region.

It’s a slow news day, indeed, when this makes the front page of the Washington Post.

Joe Ivory Mattingly has an amusing graphical take on this one.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mithras says:

    I’m a bit skeptical about this story, especially given that the only source is the CIA officer himself. It just doesn’t sound plausible that this local head man is going to tell an American – or anyone, really – he can’t get it up anymore. Also, generic sildenafil is made in bulk in India. I suppose it’s possible the guy had enough knowledge to know what Viagra was and why he should want it but didn’t have the means to get himself any, but it seems more likely that a CIA operative made up a colorful story for a reporter.

  2. Kathy says:

    Mithras, the CIA officer is handing out the pill to everyone he wants to buy cooperation from. He’s not asking if the guy needs it. Viagra is a prescription pharmaceutical in the U.S., but in Afghanistan it’s candy.

  3. wifeCIA is discovering that the Viagra program is not perfect. Problems arose when several clan leaders came back to the CIA disappointingly stating, “The magic blue beans good for me, but do you have the magic beans for wife’s headaches.”

  4. dutchmarbel says:

    Mabe they can add a little card with it: “Make love, not war” and a free copy of Hair.

  5. Drew says:

    Well now. There you have it.

    This clearly demonstrates the firmness of our resolve to keep our extended presence in Afghanistan until the other party has completed its activities and gives up.

  6. sam says:

    This clearly demonstrates the firmness of our resolve

    Actually, it’s the firmness of their resolve that is the issue, I’d think…we’re stiffing ’em, which in this case seems to be a good thing.