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 Missed @CraigMurrayOrg post last week confirming my suspicions: UK lobbying heavy against release of Torture Report. http://t.co/wHZFkndVoi
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emptywheel @richardSFO True. Tho not sure if you saw him w/Execs fr Comcast and TW. Pretty great at hammering them on lies abt merger.
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emptywheel Of a book that starts lying at word 64, http://t.co/YfPsXVeVpN @benjaminwittes says, "Rizzo is just being honest." http://t.co/b3JtB1eSdo
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bmaz @LegallyErin Hang in there!
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bmaz @arcsine Yes, that is how I read it too; which, considering how they communicate, makes sense. @MichaelKelleyBI
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bmaz @MichaelKelleyBI Think DB article very disingenuously constructed+ that you have no way of supporting your claim short of rank supposition
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bmaz @adamsteinbaugh Good grief, good way to exacerbate the initial pain.
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bmaz @MichaelKelleyBI Good of you to assign who they are with no evidence.
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bmaz @Ali_Gharib Them "helping him craft the question" is not in there. @MichaelKelleyBI just pulled that out of vapor @NoahShachtman @benwizner
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bmaz @Ali_Gharib Other than that it is disingenuous+unsupported for @MichaelKelleyBI tonasser they contributed. @NoahShachtman @benwizner
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bmaz @ammartin33 Agree has been some degree of a shift. But think the Danger Room guys always went out of their way to stay close to govt sources
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