American officials now have a deeper, more bleak understanding of the extent of corruption in Afghanistan: U.S. officials have told The Washington Post that key members of President Hamid Karzai's government have consistently derailed corruption probes involving elite Afghans. According to the unnamed sources who’ve provided support to Afghan officials to weed out corruption, prosecutors have been ordered to stop the arrest of senior officials, cross names off of lists and case files, and disregard evidence in a case involving a major financial firm helping politically connected Afghans funnel money abroad. "Above a certain level, people are being very well protected," one senior U.S. official told the paper. Not surprisingly, Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar has denied these claims: "There is no case, no instance, in which the palace or anyone from the palace has interfered with a case," he said. Afghanistan is widely regarded as one of the world's most corrupt countries.