As the story unfolds regarding Western negotiation with a phony “Taliban” commander it increasingly appears the keystone cops are in charge of our military effort in Afghanistan. Let us take our readers through the maze of incompetence which resulted in negotiation with a man who had no power event though he claimed to be a major Taliban leader.
1. The man was picked up in a NATO raid.
2. The man claimed he was a Taliban leader.
3. The man was introduced to the Afghan Interior Minister, Hanif Atmar and urged continued discussions with him.
4. General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of US forces in the nation, gave his approval to continue discussions with the man. At that point, US policy prevented any discussion with members of the Talliban so McChrystal asked M16 to develop contacts rather than asking the CIA to become involved. M16 was delighted at being asked to play a major role and got carried away with pursuing discussions rather than checking out the man.
5. A British plane flew the man to meet President Karzai. It appears the man was a grocer from Quetta and he was given thousands of dollars.
6. It appears the Pakistan secret service, ISI, was influential in helping the man to be accepted as a Taliban leader.
7. General Petraeus assumed command of US forces, and, although having a few doubts, went along with the charade.
8. President Karzai now insists he never met the man and knew nothing of the entire episode.
Now the reader knows why we spend over $50 billion a year on “intelligence.”