Wire: White House Declassified McChrystal Afghan Report for Washington Post
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2009 -- The Department of Defense on Sunday evening released a declassified version of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's assessment of the war in Afghanistan to The Washington Post.
Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post in a column published today attempts to play up a story angle that makes the Post look patriotic for delaying the report's publication.
While the publication delay may be honorable, it's the declassification that's worrisome.
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 White House allowed the Post to publish a declassified version of McChrystal's Afghan assessment but the administration is rebuffing congressional calls for McChrystal to testify before concerned lawmakers of both parties.
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.
Just who leaked the report and to what ends are the nagging, unanswered questions.
I have included a link below to the declassified version of McChrystal's assessment.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Document: COMISAF Initial Assessment (Unclassified) pdf