Given President Obama’s apparent order that his national security team look into the Afghan massacre, I wanted to look at the various statements about the Administration response to the massacre and disaster, because I think it speaks to the same internal tensions as described in the Klaidman story on Holder.
Risen’s original story on Afghan massacre lacked any statement from the White House. But it did have several comments from the State Department suggesting the Obama Administration was laying the groundwork to marginalize Dostum.
But in recent weeks, State Department officials have quietly tried to thwart General Dostum’s reappointment as military chief of staff to the president, according to several senior officials, and suggested that the administration might not be hostile to an inquiry.
While President Obama has deepened the United States’ commitment to Afghanistan, sending 21,000 more American troops there to combat the growing Taliban insurgency, his administration has also tried to distance itself from Mr. Karzai, whose government is deeply unpopular and widely viewed as corrupt.
A senior State Department official said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, had told Mr. Karzai of their objections to reinstating General Dostum. The American officials have also pressed his sponsors in Turkey to delay his return to Afghanistan while talks continue with Mr. Karzai over the general’s role, said an official briefed on the matter. Asked about looking into the prisoner deaths, the official said, “We believe that anyone suspected of war crimes should be thoroughly investigated.”
While I’m not entirely sure how much the statement, "and suggested that the administration might not be hostile to an inquiry" is Risen’s or is his State Department source, it does suggest that the Obama Administration was laying the groundwork to marginalize Dostum, making it easier to conduct an investigation into his actions.
Within hours of the publication of Risen’s article, Laura Jakes had a seeming response–attributed to the Obama Administration generally–disavowing any intent or jurisdiction to conduct an investigation. The article starts by stating the opposition to an investigation generally.
Obama administration officials said Friday they had no grounds to investigate the 2001 deaths of Taliban prisoners of war who human rights groups allege were killed by U.S.-backed forces
U.S. officials said Friday they did not have legal grounds to investigate the deaths because only foreigners were involved and the alleged killings occurred in a foreign country.