Ian Pannell of BBC News writes about his One-way flight to Afghan outback courtesy of the US Embassy in Kabul who invited BBC to go on a trip to Balkh Province in the north, for briefings and interviews on counter-narcotics. “The plane arrived in good time but it became immediately clear that the US team were less keen on briefings and more on palming us off on the Afghan officials. Our luggage was unceremoniously dumped on the runway and we were told the plane would leave at 2.30pm. The US team was whisked away by beefy special agents driving super-sized armoured trucks.”
Uh-oh, you know that's only for starters.
He reports that one of the American vehicles broke down en route and unknown to them, the embassy folks reportedly decided to “cancel the trip and beat an unseemly retreat to the airport.” And it does not get any better after that.
Tsk! Ouch! Ugh! I know, I know… there are always two sides to every story; it’s just that we probably won’t hear the press officer's side. In any case, the Press Office folks are supposed to be our professionals; and that’s how everyone will look at this. They could have handled this alot better (and have not). The folks were stranded -- apologies are in order. I just think it's not useful to get the press pissed and puzzled at the same time. That’s how you end up with this headline: US Embassy Officials Abandon BBC Reporter In Remote Afghanistan.
On a side note, Ambassador Eikenberry is not in Kabul yet but looks like Ambassador Wood is no longer COM. When you click on “Ambassador” in the About Us page, it takes you to Deputy Ambassador Ricciardone’s page. Would he be happy waking up to these headlines? I bet not.