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 @Krhawkins5 Remember when Litt said sometimes they don't tell if an "informant" has been used?
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emptywheel @Krhawkins5 Right--and there are evidence laundering parts of FBI.
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emptywheel @Krhawkins5 Thing is none of those unsolicited tip sources have ever been revealed, but German always hits on it.
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emptywheel @Krhawkins5 But these tips are usu for US kids, some who also are not primary Arabic or other non-English languages.
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emptywheel My WAG: Has Evan Kohlmann become Garbage In Garbage Out of terror prosecutions? https://t.co/lgdn2mJHLC https://t.co/YIJxSqDbmv
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emptywheel @bradheath Though might that have changed over time -- it did on the 215 side, and of course w/onsite access.
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emptywheel @bradheath Yeah, I think that 7d is increasingly being used to protect corporate partners as a source and method.
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emptywheel Udpated: O'Malley: Arbor Paul: New Holland Kasich: GR Brewing https://t.co/djTtXm7Owq
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emptywheel MI Craft Brew Count Rand Paul: Fundraiser at New Holland O'Malley: Fundraiser at Arbor https://t.co/TiNnWlJFSi
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emptywheel @thegrugq (Aside from Uighurs) And piggyback on all the data sharing we've put in place bc of GWOT, too.
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emptywheel @attackerman Proof that ISIL was thriving in Afghanistan before its time.
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emptywheel @bradheath Wow. You didn't even get a confirm-and-deny along the way? At least confirmation they're using 7s to protect contractors.
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