Stanely McChrystal

Is David Petraeus Leaking to Undercut the President? Or Is Someone Framing Him?

The WaPo has the latest in seemingly yearly series of leaks of Top Secret cables designed to undercut the President’s plan to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan sent a top-secret cable to Washington last month warning that the persistence of enemy havens in Pakistan was placing the success of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan in jeopardy, U.S. officials said.

The cable, written by Ryan C. Crocker, amounted to an admission that years of U.S. efforts to curtail insurgent activity in Pakistan by the lethal Haqqani network, a key Taliban ally, were failing.

The hints and feints the article offers about who leaked the memo provide ample entertainment for a Saturday afternoon.

Note the way the WaPo describes its sources inconsistently. It offers this quote from a senior defense official.

“The sanctuaries are a deal-killer for the [Afghan war] strategy,” said a senior defense official who is familiar with the ongoing debate and who, like several officials in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. [my emphasis]

But then the WaPo suggests military leaders have motive to leak the cable, distinguishing between “defense” and “military” officials.

The cable, which was described by several officials familiar with its contents, could be used as ammunition by senior military officials who favor more aggressive action by the United States against the Haqqani havens in Pakistan. It also could buttress calls from senior military officials for a more gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan as the 2014 deadline for ending combat operations approaches.

These military officials have maintained for months that the strategy of targeting raids against Taliban leadership and building local Afghan governance is showing impressive results. [my emphasis]

Mind you, none of these military officials seem to be directly quoted here–at least not defined as military officials. The comment might just reflect the knowledge of Greg Jaffe, WaPo’s military writer. Though it would be consistent if a General or two leaked such a cable–after all, Stanley McChrystal is assumed to have leaked a similar cable during Obama’s Afghanistan review in 2009, for similar reason.

Yet I’m most interested in this quote, of someone whose affiliation was rather pointedly (given the description of defense and military sources) not identified.

“There’s no debate about the importance of going after Haqqani . . . and Taliban militants who launch attacks into Afghanistan,” one U.S. official said. “Support for this is universal.” [my emphasis]

The article also defaults to “US officials” elsewhere, though that could be because the sources came from multiple agencies. Note, “US official” can be used to refer to members of Congress, as well as agency officials.

In any case should we assume these unmarked sources are intelligence ones–the beat of Greg Miller, the WaPo’s intelligence writer and the other byline on the story?

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @normative To clarify, proper usage is GIgabytes of Metadata & Miscellaneous Information Electronic (GIMMIE)?@csoghoian @KenDilanianAP
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emptywheel @ErrataRob What qualifies as "bulk," you mean? Gotta get a warrant for 500G hard drive... @normative @csoghoian @KenDilanianAP
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emptywheel @normative Ooh! Nice! You're almost as clever as Sensenbrenner. @csoghoian @KenDilanianAP
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emptywheel @toxic Thank you so much! (I'm tired...)
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emptywheel The Section 215 Rap Sheet https://t.co/b9lvBI1dae (Reupping bc I accidentally published before its time)
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emptywheel RT @cgberube: @RadioFreeTom the same people who believe NSA is capable of tapping their comms r same who believe govt can't even fix pothol…
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emptywheel @csoghoian In fact I propose we call 215 the "Gigabytes of Metadata & Other Electronic Information" Provision, per IG Report @KenDilanianAP
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emptywheel @csoghoian In fact, rather than using the IC's nonsensical definition for bulk, as USAF does, let's limit it by Gigs. @KenDilanianAP
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emptywheel @csoghoian Me, I just want a sense of how much a Gig is in privacy terms bc that's the unit 215 orders operate on. @KenDilanianAP
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emptywheel @Krhawkins5 Also, first you'd have to let the govt have encrypted convos with that intermediary.
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emptywheel @Krhawkins5 I have another proposal: The press keeping reporting secrets until the secret people stop acting like crazy people.
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emptywheel The sound the door of FISC makes when Richard Burr and Mitch McConnell have missed reauthorization deadline. https://t.co/55TUY15JR8
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