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David Ignatius and Bin Laden’s Biden Judgment

Presumably to buck up their campaign theme–“Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive“–the Administration pre-leaked some documents to David Ignatius taken from OBL’s compound revealing that OBL hoped to attack President Obama. Ignatius described the aspirational plot as a “bold” command

Before his death, Osama bin Laden boldly commanded his network to organize special cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the aircraft of President Obama and Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“The reason for concentrating on them,” the al-Qaeda leader explained to his top lieutenant, “is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President] Biden take over the presidency. . . . Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour . . . and killing him would alter the war’s path” in Afghanistan. [my emphasis]

And even while Ignatius admits OBL was never going to be able to shoot Petraeus and Obama out of the air, he offers it as proof that the terrorist still wanted to launch spectacular attacks.

The plot to target Obama was probably bluster, since al-Qaeda apparently lacked the weapons to shoot down U.S. aircraft. But it’s a chilling reminder that even when he was embattled and in hiding, bin Laden still dreamed of pulling off another spectacular terror attack against the United States. [my emphasis]

Politico–that arbiter of beltway conventional wisdom–has described Ignatius’ acceptance of a motivated leak to be a scoop of such proportions to solidify his position as the “preeminent writer on national security affairs.” Politico even offers a quote from its own anonymous Administration source explaining what they got by leaking stuff to Ignatius.

“David is not only influential, he’s a serious journalist who is taken seriously,” an Obama administration official told POLITICO. “His byline gives [the bin Laden] story instantaneous cachet, credibility and, yes, visibility.”

Which Politico accompanies with fawning quotes from Jeff Goldberg, Evan Thomas, Steve Clemons and Sally Quinn (Sally Quinn!?!?!) affirming Ignatius’ magnificence as national security status.

There’s just one problem with all that.

Ignatius, this purportedly brilliant commenter, doesn’t even notice, much less mention, how stupid OBL was.

OBL was going to kill Obama not for the sake of killing the US President, but because Biden, who served in the Senate for 36 years, almost 12 of which he served as one or another powerful committee Chair, “is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis.”

Really?

Joe Biden may be many things: but he is as prepared to be President as just about any person in this country. And in a number of key debates during this Administration–notably, what to do with Afghanistan–Biden proved to be right two years before the rest of the Administration copped on.

OBL’s plans to attack Obama, then, show not just how unhinged from reality about al Qaeda OBL was by this point, but also how completely ignorant he was about America.

You’d think that DC’s crack national security correspondent would note just how laughable OBL’s plots were late in life.

But I guess if he did, the Administration wouldn’t come to him anymore for his purported “instantaneous cachet, credibility and, yes, visibility.”

Leak Prosecutions: Enforcing Secrecy Asymmetry Does Not Equate to Rule of Law

Matt Miller has a piece in the Daily Beast defending the Obama Administration’s prosecutions of leakers. Now, as Josh Gerstein notes, Miller makes his work easier by cherry-picking which cases to discuss; he doesn’t mention Thomas Drake, who was pretty clearly trying to expose waste and fraud (as well as the government’s choice to spend more money to provide less privacy protection). And he doesn’t mention Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have leaked at least some materials that expose war crimes and a lot more than expose abuse (though note, DOD, not DOJ, is prosecuting Manning).

But Miller’s argument suffers from a much bigger problem. He operates under the assumption that the sole crux of legitimacy arises from a distinction between whistleblower and leaker that he presents as absolute.

To start with, that distinction isn’t absolute (as Manning’s case makes clear). But even with John Kiriakou, whom Miller does discuss, it’s not absolute. Recall what Kiriakou was charged with: leaking the identity of a still covert officer involved in the torture program, being one of up to 23 people who leaked that Deuce Martinez–who was not covert–was involved in the torture program (though didn’t do the torture), and lying to the CIA Publication Review Board about the classification of a surveillance technique details of which have been readily available for decades (and which seems to be related to the Secret PATRIOT GPS application targeting American citizens in probable violation of the Fourth Amendment). In other words, two people involved in an illegal program and one technique that was probably improperly classified and since become another questionably legal executive branch spying technique.

But the entire investigation arose because defense attorneys with Top Secret clearance used the covert officer’s name in a still-sealed filing about the abuse their client had suffered at the hand of the US, possibly–though we don’t know–at the hand of the covert officer (because he is covert, the defense attorneys did not use the officer’s name or picture with their client).

Now, I have no way of knowing (nor does Miller) Kiriakou’s motive, and his case will probably end in a plea, meaning we’ll never get to learn it at trial. But the very genesis of the case–the defense attorneys’ attempts to learn who had tortured their clients so as to be able to adequately represent them–arises from the government’s failure to prosecute anyone for torture and its insistence on withholding arguably relevant information from legal teams, presumably in part to prevent them from attaining any redress for that torture in courts.

So regardless of Kiriakou’s motive, to argue for the legitimacy of his prosecution as events have transpired is to distract from the larger system in which the government uses secrecy to avoid legal consequences for its own crimes–regardless of what that does for justice.

And it’s not just with Gitmo detainees’ lawyers that the government has withheld information to prevent justice being done. It did that with al-Haramain, the Maher Arar suit, Jeppesen Dataplan–the list of times when the government has claimed something, even a widely known fact, is super duper secret just so it can’t be sued or prosecuted is getting quite long and tired. And, of course, it continues to do it with the Anwar al-Awlaki killing, preferring inconsistent claims of Glomar and state secrets to full accounting not just of Awlaki’s killing, but of the claims about Presidential power more generally.

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AP Shows Civilian Casualties Equal To or Worse than TBIJ, Drone Boosters Declare Victory

There’s something funny about the response I’ve seen so far to the AP report on the number of civilian drone strikes.

The AP reports that 30% of the drone strikes in the last 18 months in North Waziristan were civilians or police; discounting the most deadly attack brings that number down to 12% (eliminating the March 17 strike makes the final totals 18 civilians killed of 152).

Indeed, the AP was told by the villagers that of at least 194 people killed in the attacks, about 70 percent — at least 138 — were militants. The remaining 56 were either civilians or tribal police, and 38 of them were killed in a single attack on March 17, 2011.

Excluding that strike, which inflicted one of the worst civilian death tolls since the drone program started in Pakistan, nearly 90 percent of the people killed were militants, villagers said.

Though I’m not sure why any analysis would discount that one strike. While the government offered the AP a lame excuse about heavily armed men,

Regarding the March 17, 2011, strike on Shiga village, the bloodiest attack investigated by the AP, U.S. officials familiar with drone operations said the group targeted was heavily armed, some of its members were connected to al-Qaida, and all “acted in a manner consistent with AQ (al-Qaida)-linked militants.”

But villagers and Pakistani officials said the missiles hit a community meeting, or jirga, held to resolve a mining dispute, killing four Pakistani Taliban fighters and 38 civilians and tribal police.

An earlier AP story–to which this same writer, Sebastian Abbot contributed–described how the US Ambassador to Pakistan tried to stop the strike at the last minute.

Ambassador Cameron Munter’s rare request — disclosed to The Associated Press by several U.S. officials — was forwarded to the head of the CIA, who dismissed it. Some U.S. officials said Leon Panetta’s decision was driven by a belief that the militants being targeted were too important to pass up, but others suspected that anger at Pakistan for imprisoning Raymond Davis for so long played a role.

Furthermore, the CIA changed their targeting rules in response to this one strike, suggesting the government recognized a problem with it.

And in any case, the range of civilian casualties remains 12-30%.

Compare that to the numbers The Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows (above) for 2011: 59 civilians killed out of 470 total, or 13% civilians (their numbers include the March 17 strike), and the AP’s numbers actually reflect higher levels of civilian casualties than TBIJ (they’re using a different time frame and focusing on attacks in North Waziristan).

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Your Summer Schedule: Vacation, Beach, Iran War

Man, if Leon Panetta doesn’t get into trouble for revealing details of Anwar al-Awlaki’s targeting or confirming that Pakistani doctor Shikal Afridi was working for the CIA when he collected DNA from Osama bin Laden’s compound, I wonder if he’ll get in trouble for (apparently) telling David Ignatius when Israel will attack Iran?

Panetta believes there is strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb.

Now perhaps this is another sanctioned leak meant to ruin Bibi Netanyahu’s surprise (though I’m not sure how Iran would prepare to defend against an Israeli attack).

If so, Ignatius’ article sure sends a divided message. On one hand, it suggests the US would not participate.

The administration appears to favor a policy of staying out of the conflict, unless Iran hits U.S. assets, which would trigger a strong U.S. response.

This U.S. policy — signaling that Israel is acting on its own — might open a breach like the one in 1956, when President Eisenhower condemned an Israeli-European attack on the Suez Canal.

Yet at the same time it lays out the circumstances under which the US would get involved.

Administration officials caution that Tehran shouldn’t misunderstand: The United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israel’s population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defense.

I’m sure the Israelis would never be able to cock up a Scary Iran Plot targeted at Tel Aviv.

What Ignatius doesn’t emphasize–though he does hint at it–is the real reason for this schedule.

Complicating matters is the 2012 presidential campaign, which has Republicans candidates clamoring for stronger U.S. support of Israel.

Bibi’s biggest political donor, Sheldon Adelson, has already dumped $10 million into the GOP primary. To imagine that Bibi is not, at the same time, gaming out how the electoral schedule might play into the optimal time to pick a war with Iran is naive.

Which, I guess, may be why Panetta is blabbing this particular detail.

The Administration’s Many Excuses for Hiding Its Targeted Killing Memo

Remember this article? It describes the debate within the Administration over how readily and extensively to acknowledge the US killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. As it describes, the debate was at least preliminarily resolved at a Situation Room meeting in November.

The issue came to a head at a Situation Room meeting in November. At lower-level interagency meetings, Obama officials had already begun moving toward a compromise. David Petraeus, the new CIA director whose agency had been wary of too much disclosure, came out in support of revealing the legal reasoning behind the Awlaki killing so long as the case was not explicitly discussed. Petraeus, according to administration officials, was backed up by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence. (The CIA declined to comment.) The State Department, meanwhile, continued to push for fuller disclosure. One senior Obama official who continued to raise questions about the wisdom of coming out publicly at all was Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security director. She argued that the calls for transparency had quieted down, as one participant characterized her view, so why poke the hornet’s nest? Another senior official expressing caution about the plan was Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel. She cautioned that the disclosures could weaken the government’s stance in pending litigation. The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the release of the Justice Department legal opinion in the Awlaki case. (The department has declined to provide the documents requested.)

It came down to what Denis McDonough, the deputy national-security adviser, cheekily called the “half Monty” versus the “full Monty,” after the British movie about a male striptease act. In the end, the principals settled on the half Monty. As the State Department’s Koh continued to push for the maximum amount of disclosure, McDonough began referring to that position as “the full Harold.”

Note especially the stance of Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House Counsel, who argued that any disclosures on the Awlaki killing “could weaken the government’s stance in pending litigation.”

That is, Ruemmler argued the Administration couldn’t voluntarily provide information about Awlaki’s killing, because it might mean it would have to involuntarily give that information up pursuant to a lawsuit over that information. Huh?

Since November, both the NYT (on December 20, 2011) and the ACLU (yesterday) have sued to get the Awlaki memo under FOIA (the ACLU is also suing to get the underlying evidence, including that relating to Samir Khan and Awlaki’s son Abdulrahman).

So I wanted to compare the different responses different agencies gave the NYT and ACLU around the same time that many top Administration officials were advocating for some kind of transparency even while the White House Counsel was arguing that doing so might lead to transparency. Here’s how the government responded to these FOIAs when (I’ve not noted the ACLU appeals, but all were appealed before the subequent follow-up):

Around June 2010: OLC completes Awlaki memo

June 11, 2010: NYT’s Scott Shane FOIAs DOJ OLC for memos on targeted killings

October 7, 2011: NYT’s Charlie Savage FOIAs OLC for memos on targeting killings

October 19, 2011: ACLU FOIAs Anwar al-Awlaki OLC memo, underlying evidence supporting it, and information relating to Samir Khan and Abdullah al-Awalaki

October 27, 2011: OLC denies both NYT requests under FOIA exemptions (b)(1), (b)(3), and (b)(5), and, in response to Shane’s request, also notes that with regards to other agencies, “neither confirms nor denies the existence of the documents” in the request

October 27, 2011: DOJ Office of Information Policy grants ACLU’s request for expedited processing but determines the request fell within “unusual circumstances” so it could not meet the statutory deadline

October 31, 2011: DOD denies ACLU’s request for expedited processing and also claimed “unusual circumstances”

November 2011, unknown date: Situation Room meeting at which Principals decide to pursue a “half monty” strategy of limited release of information on Awlaki

November 4, 2011: NYT appeals its denial

November 7, 2011: USSOCOM denies ACLU’s request for expedited processing and determined the request fell within “unusual circumstances”

November 14, 2011: OLC denies ACLU’s request under FOIA exemptions (b)(1), (b)(3), and (b)(5)

November 17, 2011: CIA denies ACLU’s FOIA “pursuant to FOIA exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3)” and claims that the “fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is currently and properly classified”

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Dianne Feinstein Complains about Executive Branch Blabbing

In her statement at the beginning of the Threat Intelligence Assessment hearing today, Dianne Feinstein complained that the Executive Branch continues to blab about things that are supposed to be secret (this starts around 11:00).

I’d also like to say that once again this committee has been put in a difficult position of trying to avoid any mention of classified matters when various parts of the executive branch may be doing somewhat the opposite. I ask members to be careful in their questions and statements and to remember that public discussion of some intelligence programs and assets can lead to them being compromised.

On the particular issue of drone strikes, I will only say that I was cleared to say in our joint hearing with the House Intelligence Committee last September “And there’s no issue that receives more attention and oversight from this Committee than the United States Counterterrorism efforts going on along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. These efforts are extremely precise and carefully executed and are the most effective tools we have. Non-combatant casualties are kept to an absolute minimum.”

Given the timing, given her references to both assets and programs, and given her comments about the drone strikes on the Pakistani border, I assume she’s complaining about Leon Panetta’s blabbing to 60 Minutes the other night. (Plus, DiFi and Panetta have had their difficulties in the past.)

You see? It’s not just me that is fed up with this double standard on secrecy.

Update: Josh Gerstein talked to DiFi after the hearing, and she made it clear she was not criticizing the President.

Feinstein insisted after Tuesday’s hearing that her remarks were not aimed at Obama.

“I was not criticizing the president.  I was reminding the committee about protecting classified information,” she said in a statement e-mailed to POLITICO. She did not elaborate on what “parts of the executive branch” she was referring to in her public comments earlier in the day. A spokesman had no immediate response to a request for clarification.

Leon’s Book of Law

Glenn Greenwald and Adam Serwer already hit this part of 60 Minutes interview with Leon Panetta yesterday. But I wanted to tie Panetta’s comments about how, “in his book” a citizen who wants to attack our people and kill Americans is first and foremost a terrorist.

If someone is a citizen of the United States and is a terrorist who wants to attack our people and kill Americans in my book that person is a terrorist. And the reality is that under our laws that person is a terrorist. And we’re required under process of law to be able to justify that despite the fact that this person may be a citizen, he is first and foremost a terrorist who threatens our people. [my emphasis]

Now, Panetta suggests that if someone who, in Leon’s book, is a terrorist is here in the US, that person will get due process.

But the logic of the Fourth Circuit’s Padilla decision the other day defies that. As I read it, the Fourth Circuit argued that once Padilla became an enemy combatant–once Leon’s predecessors decided that, in their book, he was a terrorist, then he lost access to the legal means to (for example) seek redress for torture, much less to anything but habeas corpus–on the schedule the government chose, which effectively nullified it.

So while it sounds odd that all it might take is the CIA Director or the Defense Secretary to say, “in my book, he’s a terrorist,” that is actually how things are functioning.

 

Leon Panetta and the Pakistani Doctor: Yet More Double Standards on Classified Information

As the Bill Gertz article I reexamined the other day made clear, Leon Panetta became personally involved in the CIA’s efforts to investigate detainee lawyers who were trying to track down their clients’ torturers.

CIA Director Leon E. Panetta and his chief of staff, Jeremy Bash, a former chief counsel for the House intelligence committee, at first were unaware of both the scope and seriousness of the case.

However, both officials began addressing the matter after inquiries were made from members of Congress. Since then, Mr. Panetta and Mr. Bash are getting regular updates on the dispute, said the officials.

As a result of that investigation, former CIA officer John Kiriakou was charged last week.

Consider the damage Kiriakou is alleged to have done:

  • Some lawyers with Top Secret clearance submitted a sealed filing naming a covert officer involved in the torture of 9/11 defendants. The lawyers pointedly did not photograph this officer in an effort to shield his identity. And his name was never made public.
  • Using information gained from Kiriakou and around 23 other sources (including former CIA Executive Director Buzzy Krongard), Scott Shane wrote an article detailing Deuce Martinez’ role in the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others. And while Martinez’ association with the torture program was classified, his identity was not. Furthermore, by the time of the article, Martinez was working for Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell’s contracting firm, making it a pretty safe bet that he was involved in interrogation, even interrogations involving torture.
  • Subsequent to this article based on information from Kiriakou and 23 other people, the 9/11 detainees saw pictures of Martinez; assuming Shane’s article is accurate, they had already interacted with Martinez personally.
  • In that article, Shane included details about the “magic box” technology used to locate Abu Zubaydah. Information on that “magic box” technology and similar ones has been publicly available for decades, meaning the only secret here is that CIA uses it (!) and called it something as stupid as “magic box.”

That’s it. That’s the reported outcome of John Kiriakou’s leaks. And for that he faces prison time of up to 20 years.

Meanwhile, tomorrow the above clip will be shown on 60 Minutes, showing Panetta confirming that the Pakistani doctor who conducted fake vaccinations in Abbottabad, Pakistan in order to get a glimpse into Osama bin Laden’s compound was, in fact, working for the CIA.

Panetta also acknowledged that Shikal Afridi, the Pakistani doctor conducting health tests in the village in an effort to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence, was in fact working for the U.S. Afridi was arrested and charged with treason by the government of Pakistan. “I’m very concerned about what the Pakistanis did with this individual…who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation,” says Panetta. “He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan…Pakistan and the United States have a common cause here against terrorism…and for them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I just think is a real mistake on their part,” he tells Pelley.

Not only does this presumably put more pressure on Pakistan to convict Afridi of treason (he remains in custody), but it exacerbates the problem of having used a vaccination campaign as cover in the first place, confirming on the record that similar campaigns in poor countries might be no more than a CIA front.

I presume someone in the White House gave Panetta permission to go blab this on 60 Minutes; I assume he’s in no more legal jeopardy than Dick Cheney was when he insta-declassified Valerie Plame’s identity.

But shit like this discredits every single claim national security experts make about the need for secrecy. I mean, how are CIA officers ever going to recruit any more assets when the assets know that the CIA director may, at some time in the future that’s politically convenient, go on 60 Minutes and confirm the relationship?

The OTHER Assault on the Fourth Amendment in the NDAA? Drones at Your Airport?

Steven Aftergood notes that the Army just issued new directives for the use of drones in civilian airspace. The new directives include nothing earth shattering (my favorite part is the enclosure from 2009 explaining what to do when you lose contact with one of your drones, on PDF 18–but really, what could go wrong?). But it does, as Aftergood notes, reflect a real enthusiasm for using more drones in civilian airspace.

Which brings me to a part of the NDAA debate that has remained largely undiscussed.

Days after the NDAA past, Chuck Schumer started boasting about how the NDAA would bring jobs to Syracuse, NY because the city’s airport might be one of 6 sites approved as test sites for drones flying in civilian airspace.

The National Defense Authorization Act signed into law last week by President Barack Obama allows for the establishment of six national test sites where drones could fly through civil air space.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday he pushed for the establishment of six spots, instead of the planned four, to improve the chances that Hancock Field would be included.

[snip]

Schumer said Hancock already meets FAA requirements for unmanned aerial vehicles because about 7,000 square miles surrounding the airport is designated as “special use” airspace.

He said that “making Hancock a test site for this technology would be a boon for Central New York, creating jobs and bringing new investments to our defense contractors that provide thousands of good paying jobs.”

Curiously, the language addressing drones in civilian airspace in the NDAA, as passed, doesn’t actually say this.

SEC. 1074. REPORT ON INTEGRATION OF UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS INTO THE NATIONAL AIRSPACE SYSTEM.

(a) REPORT REQUIRED.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and on behalf of the UAS Executive Committee, submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report setting forth the following:

(1) A description and assessment of the rate of progress in integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.

(2) An assessment of the potential for one or more pilot program or programs on such integration at certain test ranges to increase that rate of progress.

Rather, it seems to require Secretary Panetta to tell Congress whether “one or more” test ranges would “help” us get drones into civilian airspace more quickly. Perhaps the new Army guidelines are part of DOD’s preparation for the report to Congress.

That said, there is evidence that the legislative intent behind the NDAA is to push those 6 sites forward. Here’s what the managers’ statement said about this section (note, the numbering changed as sections got squished together into a bill).

Unmanned aerial systems and national airspace (sec. 1097)

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After Trading Jobs, Petraeus and Panetta Have Traded Sides in Military vs. Intelligence Differences

Mid-trade photo of David Petraeus, left, and Leon Panetta in July, 2011 in Kabul when Petraeus headed ISAF/NATO and Panetta had just taken over as Defense Secretary. (Department of State photo via Flickr)

What a difference a year makes.

Here is the New York Times with some of the fallout from the Afghanistan National Intelligence Estimate prepared in December, 2010, in an article published about a week after the report was supplied to Congress:

American military commanders and senior Pentagon officials have already criticized the reports as out of date and say that the cut-off date for the Afghanistan report, Oct. 1, does not allow it to take into account what the military cites as tactical gains in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces in the south in the six weeks since. Pentagon and military officials also say the reports were written by desk-bound Washington analysts who have spent limited time, if any, in Afghanistan and have no feel for the war.

“They are not on the ground living it day in and day out like our forces are, so they don’t have the proximity and perspective,” said a senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be identified while criticizing the intelligence agencies. The official said that the 30,000 additional troops that Mr. Obama ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 did not all arrive until September, meaning that the intelligence agencies had little time to judge the effects of the escalation. There are now about 100,000 American forces in Afghanistan.

/snip/

The dispute also reflects the longstanding cultural differences between intelligence analysts, whose job is to warn of potential bad news, and military commanders, who are trained to promote “can do” optimism.

A new National Intelligence Estimate for Afghanistan has been prepared and the Los Angeles Times yesterday reported on the estimate and its responses, including this:

The findings prompted a sharp response from Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander of Western forces in the war, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, who filed their objections in a one-page written dissent. The comment was also signed by Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander of Central Command, and Adm. James Stavridis, supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Military and Pentagon officials argued that assumptions used by intelligence agencies were flawed.

“It assumes a quicker drawdown of U.S. support to the Afghan government than a lot of people are projecting, ” said one U.S. official familiar with Pentagon thinking, speaking of the assessment.

Military officials also cited what they claim are gaps in the intelligence agencies’ understanding of the Taliban leadership’s thinking, the officials said.

Although the details differ, the response by the military to the intelligence community’s assessment of Afghanistan is the same. In the face of sober doubts about progress from the intelligence community, the military’s “can-do” attitude claims that things are better than presented in the intelligence estimate, especially in the more recent events that weren’t included in the analysis or in anticipated events that the military sees as more positive than the intelligence community does.

What is remarkable about these two responses from the military (and the two analyses from the intelligence community) is that the two most visible heads of these communities have traded places between the two reports being issued. Read more