Quickie: TelConference With Ambassador Eikenberry (That Did Not Happen)

Photo by US Embassy Kabul
via Flickr

Note: Since Spencer Ackerman retracted this story, the title of this post has also been updated. The original title was “Quickie: TelConference with Ambassador Eikenberry.”

You’ve heard about those “leaked” cables on Afghanistan? If not, read The Washington Post piece U.S. envoy resists increase in troops (November 12, 2009). The U.S. ambassador in Kabul reportedly sent two classified cables to Washington in the past week expressing deep concerns about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Spencer Ackerman has a follow-up on this:

It was a tense meeting this morning at the White House, as Ambassador Karl Eikenberry addressed the National Security Council by teleconference from Kabul just hours after the media got hold of his dissent on the crucial question of sending more troops to Afghanistan. “He is very unpopular here,” said a National Security Council staffer who described the meeting.
[…]
The prevailing theory is that “he leaked his own cables” because “he has a beef with McChrystal,” the staffer said. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Eikenberry’s successor as NATO commander in Afghanistan, has requested an increase in troops to support a counterinsurgency strategy with a substantial counterterrorism component.
[…]
The ambassador told the NSC not to send additional troops to Afghanistan “without an exit strategy” and urged that the president to adopt a “purely civilian approach” with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development in the lead, not the military. According to the NSC staffer, Eikenberry “wants a realignment” of USAID, the Afghanistan inspector general’s office and the State Department’s stabilization and reconstruction office. Eikenberry said President Obama “wants that” — although Obama was not in the meeting — and he hailed the arrival of the new USAID administrator-nominee, Rajiv Shah, “because he will not wage war when the org charts start changing.”

Read the whole thing here.

Update: 11/13/09
Whoops! Spence Ackerman has retracted this story:

“From the start, the post should have a) more clearly indicated that my source wasn’t present at the meeting; b) more clearly indicated that the account provided was single-sourced; and c) verified the information provided before publication. My enthusiasm for a hot story outpaced my professional judgment. For that I take full responsibility, retract the story and issue a full apology for its publication.” Read: A Retraction of My Eikenberry Post. See what a retraction looks like here. Wow! You don’t see this very often in the media now.

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