Dianne Feinstein Calls James Clapper a Polyanna on Afghanistan

The takeaway the stenographers have gotten from yesterday’s intelligence threat assessment is that the Scary Iran Plot means Iran wants to target us in this country.

They reported that even as Dianne Feinstein made it clear James Clapper was bullshitting us on another front.

In her statement, she  noted that James Clapper’s assessment of our Afghanistan war is more optimistic than what the still-classified NIE says. (starting after 7:50)

I’m also concerned by what appears to the the disparity between the discussion of Afghanistan in Director Clapper’s statement for the record and the bleaker description in the December 2011 NIE. The Director’s statement notes modest improvements in the challenges that remain. While I’m unable to describe the NIE, as it remains a classified document, news reports of the NIE describe it as “sobering” and “dire” (those words in quotes, include phrases like, “mired in stalemate” (end quote). So I would like to ask the witnesses how they assess how stable Afghanistan will be in 2012 as well as in 2014 and beyond.

Here’s some of the public reporting on the NIE she’s talking about:

The U.S. intelligence community says in a secret new assessment that the war in Afghanistan is mired in stalemate, and warns that security gains from an increase in American troops have been undercut by pervasive corruption, incompetent governance and Taliban fighters operating from neighboring Pakistan, according to U.S. officials.

[snip]

In a section looking at future scenarios, the NIE also asserts that the Afghan government in Kabul may not be able to survive as the U.S. steadily pulls out its troops and reduces military and civilian assistance.
“Its viability is tenuous,” said one official, citing the report.

Clapper’s statement, however, says the following:

In terms of security, we judge that the Afghan police and Army will continue to depend on ISAF support. ISAF partnering and mentoring have begun to show signs of sustainable progress at the tactical and ministerial levels; however, corruption as well as poor leadership and management will threaten Afghan National Security Forces’ (ANSF) operational effectiveness.

[snip]

The Karzai government did achieve some success in 2011. The first phase of the process to transition security to Afghan leadership proceeded smoothly, and the second tranche of the transition is progressing as scheduled. The Karzai administration successfully convened a Loya Jirga in November to socialize the strategic partnership with the United States. Now that the fall 2010 electoral crisis is resolved, the Wolesi Jirga will likely regroup during the current winter recess and return its focus to limiting President Karzai’s authority, likely using the parliamentary approval process for ministerial appointees as a way to highlight the Parliament’s independence.

I find several things interesting about this: first, Clapper’s statement does admit that the ANSF isn’t ready to defend the country. The area where Clapper seems to most deviate from the reported details of the NIE is on Karzai’s government. Clapper would have us think it is improving, the NIE doesn’t agree.

But I’m also amused. After DiFi made it clear that Clapper’s statement had been spun, why did reporters (note, an exception is Josh Gerstein, who pointed out these comments as well) believe the other things he said, notably about Scary Iran?

 

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

4 Responses to Dianne Feinstein Calls James Clapper a Polyanna on Afghanistan

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @OKnox Saudis have quidded their pro I suspect. @GerardAraud
11mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @MichiganHist: In honor of Cesar Chavez Day- posts will be related to farm laborers this evening.
15mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @YousefMunayyer A little horrified NYT wasn't more horrified.
21mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @AngieCoiro: Worth noting: five #Indiana #GOP voted AGAINST #rfra: http://t.co/5WjN3jSw1R One is actually consistent in his bid for "sma…
25mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @YousefMunayyer Tracks "language used"?!?!? You don't use Arabic, but that's now a sign of ISIS support?
25mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @kgosztola: "Protesting is not the same as making progress." Rahm Emanuel blunt about his view of community organizing #ChicagoTonight
28mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @IronCurtaiNYC They did not mention "or one of those US counties were people are too fucking stupid to innoculate their kids."
32mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Interesting. Oncologist reminder call includes a "if you've traveled to [Ebola countries] please contact us before" coming in.
33mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @TylerCullis: Lots of hopes being realized by tonight's announcement of agreement in principle between US, its P5+1 partners, and Iran. …
1hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV And you can bet that Bibi now has his fabricators working overtime on "evidence" of Iran breaking the agreement...
1hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @LadaneNasseri: BREAKING: Russian FM says main elements of #IranDeal reached, agreement to be drafted in coming days #IranTalks #IranTal
2hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @toddzwillich We'll always have some "scary if true" left over for Sunnis.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
February 2012
S M T W T F S
« Jan   Mar »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
26272829