Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Who Leaked the Eikenberry Cables and Why?

The New York Times has posted online two Secret cables from Ambassador Eikenberry on the U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan. 

In November 2009, Karl W. Eikenberry, the United States ambassador to Afghanistan and retired Army lieutenant general, sent two classified cables to his superiors in which he offered his assessment of the proposed U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. While the broad outlines of Mr. Eikenberry's cables were leaked soon after he sent them, the complete cables, obtained recently by The New York Times, show just how strongly the current ambassador feels about President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government, the state of its military, and the chances that a troop buildup will actually hurt the war effort by making the Karzai government too dependent on the United States. Related Article »

Who leaked these cables in November, and who just gave the complete cables to the NYT? Is Diplomatic Security hunting down the culprit/s?  Is anyone at Foggy Bottom upset about this?  See --Hamid Karzai, himself can now read those cables online.  Given that this unavoidably would have an impact on the ambassador’s relationship with Kabul, is somebody after Karl Eikenberry’s head … or job?

Hamid Karzai won the 2009 presidential election after his opponent Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the run-off. He’ll be president of Afghanistan beyond the Obama Administration’s first term so they have to deal with him whether they like it or not. How effective a representative would Ambassador Eikenberry be after this?        

Or is it as Nick Mills over at the Huffinton Post puts it: “[I]f the diplomatic waters between the U.S. embassy in Kabul and the Arg Palace were chilly before, you'll be able to skate on them now that the texts of the cables have been published. But does President Karzai care? I doubt it. He obviously feels that the American ambassador's views are irrelevant anyway, that the Western money and military forces will keep on coming whether or not he invites the Eikenberrys to tea.”

Who leaked the Eikenberry cables and why? From Laura Rozen:  “But a third former official posits, the motivation may be different: "One more, perhaps obvious note: who stands to benefit from a worsening of the Eikenberry-Karzai relationship to the point that it's untenable?"

That’s the $65 billion question for 2010.

Updated: 1/28
Mother Jones has reported that the State Department just launched a probe on the Afghanistan leak.  Read it here.  The piece quoted  the Department Spokesman saying, "My suspicion is that a copy of a copy or a copy of a copy of a copy found its way to the New York Times."  Aha! Whose copy ... and how ... and why?  A NODIS cable with extremely limited distribution?  Mother Jones also cited NYT for the "why" part.  "According to the Times, the full versions of the memos were ultimately provided to the paper by an "American official" who believed Eikenberry's assessment "was important for the historical record."

Pleaze!  I'm dense at times but not that dense.  We have the FRUS (Foreign Relations of the U.S.) series  for the historical record, folks! The "American official" seemed more interested in the "historical record" that he/she did not worry about how this makes life and work more difficult for our man in Kabul and the US Mission in Afghanistan?  This is a firing offense.         

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