« | »

WP Claims Afghan Report Was Vetted

From a back-filling Washington Post:

Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal testifies in Afghanistan during a hearing in Washington DC June 2, 2009.

At Pentagon’s Request, Post Delayed Story on General’s Afghanistan Report

By Howard Kurtz
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To Bob Woodward, it was the modern-day equivalent of the Pentagon Papers. But to Obama administration officials, the classified assessment of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, if disclosed by The Washington Post, represented a potential threat to the safety of U.S. troops.

The result was that The Post agreed to a one-day delay in publicizing the report by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, and that the paper’s top editor engaged in a lengthy discussion Sunday with three top Defense Department officials in a meeting at the Pentagon. The Post published the report, which Woodward had obtained, on Monday.

Woodward said in an interview Tuesday that four White House and administration officials strongly objected to the publication of the full report, telling him, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and a Post lawyer in a conference call on Saturday that "if we publish it as is, it could endanger the lives of troops."

After the Pentagon meeting Sunday with Brauchli, Woodward and Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran, administration officials "did a wholesale declassification of 98 percent" of the document, Woodward said, while The Post agreed to withhold certain operational details. That, Woodward said, "made it easier" for the newspaper to proceed with publication without risking criticism for disclosing classified information.

Brauchli declined to comment. Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti said the paper "agreed to redact certain material from the document. . . . The Pentagon then produced a version of the document with the agreed redactions and released it back to us declassified. We posted that version online, after confirming its accuracy."

Woodward, who is now a contract writer for The Post, earning about $100 a month, often obtains sensitive national security material in pursuit of his best-selling books. He said he was given the McChrystal report for use in a book about the administration that he plans to publish next year, but he realized that its blunt assessment of Afghanistan, as President Obama is deciding whether to send more troops, "would have been overtaken by events."

"I went back to the source or sources and said, ‘This definitely belongs in the newspaper,’ and they agreed," Woodward said. Likening the report to the classified study of the Vietnam War that was leaked to the New York Times, The Post and other newspapers, Woodward said: "The Pentagon Papers, in 1971, came out eight years too late. . . . I’ve been in the trenches before, going back to Nixon" and efforts to withhold material during Watergate on national security grounds.

In the 66-page McChrystal document, the general says that the war effort "will likely result in failure" unless more troops are sent in the next year. Woodward said he had already suggested to The Post "that we not even think about publishing" a section of the report on future operations in Afghanistan.

But the administration still had concerns. During the meeting with Pentagon officials, Woodward said, Brauchli strongly "disagreed with them a couple of times," leading the officials to withdraw requests that certain information be held from publication.

Perhaps this is true, and the wonderfully patriotic Washington Post withheld publishing the report until it had been sanitized by the Department Of Defense.

But we can’t help but note that we only have the Post’s and Mr. Woodword’s word for this. (Both of whom are famous for bending the truth.)

There is no confirmation of any of this from any administration officials.

Woodward said: "The Pentagon Papers, in 1971, came out eight years too late. . . . I’ve been in the trenches before, going back to Nixon" and efforts to withhold material during Watergate on national security grounds.

Note that Mr. Woodward cooperated with the Obama administration’s requests, unlike with Mr. Nixon. Perhaps he isn’t out to overthrow Mr. Obama.

Note, too, his strong implication that the McChrystal document will help end the war in Afghanistan.

Which of course is what this is all about.

And note that the Post did publish information that the Pentagon had wanted withheld, anyway:

But the administration still had concerns. During the meeting with Pentagon officials, Woodward said, Brauchli strongly "disagreed with them a couple of times," leading the officials to withdraw requests that certain information be held from publication.

After all, who knows more about what will harm our troops or their mission?

Pentagon officials or an editor at the Washington Post?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

9 Responses to “WP Claims Afghan Report Was Vetted”

  1. akorozco says:

    No one’s happy with Afghanistan these days (http://www.newsy.com/videos/finding_the_right_path_in_afghanistan)… This is shaping up to be Obama’s biggest foreign-policy challenge.

  2. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    Everybody here knew that as soon as the anti-war crowd and MSM defeated the Iraq war effort, they would focus their attention on Afghanistan. For the last 8 years their tacit support the Afghan war, the ‘good war’, was merely misdirection, meant to soften their anti-Bush, pro-terrorist stance.

    The Taliban have really ratcheted up their escalation since Obama took over. They were just resting on their laurels until a sissy was elected, as is the typical pendulous change in American politics. They knew Obama would pay only lip service to the effort in Afghanistan to appease his more moderate supporters, send some troops but make no real strategy change.

    However, more troops alone will not win the war. There is still a corrupt, incompetent regime that needs to be replaced. Also, there is no coherent security force or system of justice. And like the VC hiding in Cambodia, the enemy has sanctuary in a foreign country, Pakistan. To win they need to stand up more competent Afghan troops, create a system of government the people have faith in, or at least more faith then they had in the Taliban, and kill the enemy were ever they are found.

  3. proreason says:

    Why send troops if we have no intent of winning the war?

    Who honestly believes the Moron has the slightest intention of fighting to win? To say it is to laugh. If we started to win, he would do something to prevent it. Winning a war isn’t even in his vocabulary.

    But even if he had an intent to win, it’s an enormously challenging task to persuade a medieval country to join the modern world. We could kill every Taliban today, and the roaches would be back tomorrow.

    The only solution is to build an impregnable safe haven for several thousand troops and let them wreck havoc on the Taliban with drones and special ops from there.

  4. Tater Salad says:

    It seems this President is “in over his head”. He does not know what the hell he is doing it would seem. As a combat wounded veteran of Vietnam, Marines it sure looks very similar the way Vietnam and Afghanistan is being executed. Badly! Either let the military take the fight the way they want to execute the war and eliminate “all” restrictions to engage or we should get out. Adding more troops with restrictions on how to engage is a complete joke. War is war and is not pretty. Either fight a war completely without engagement restrictions or get out of Dodge.

    Gen. George Patton: “To win a war”: Inflict the greatest amount of death and destruction in the shortest amount of time upon the enemy!

  5. Tater Salad says:

    It seems this President is “in over his head”. He does not know what the hell he is doing it would seem. As a combat wounded veteran of Vietnam, Marines, it sure looks very similar the way Vietnam and Afghanistan is being executed. Badly! Either let the military take the fight the way they want to execute the war and eliminate “all” restrictions to engage or we should get out. Adding more troops with restrictions on how to engage is a complete joke. War is war and is not pretty. Either fight a war completely without engagement restrictions or get out of Dodge.

    Gen. George Patton: “To win a war”: Inflict the greatest amount of death and destruction in the shortest amount of time upon the enemy!

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Get rid of the ROE and let the fire pissers loose!
      War ain’t pretty and it ain’t no John Wayne movie either!

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      “It is not your job to die for your country. It is your job to get the other son-of-a-bitch to die for HIS country”

  6. artboyusa says:

    Its good news that this report even got written in the first place. We suffered in Iraq big time from an inability to think critically about ourselves or to honestly evaluate our efforts and learn from our mistakes. I think elements in our military have learned the lesson but President Barry, well, he’s a community organizer, not a fighter.


« Front Page | To Top
« | »