The Fox News Special Edition panel discussed Obama’s decision making process (AKA “dithering”) on Afghanistan, today. You’ll enjoy Krauthammer dryly suggesting cynicism *may* be a possibility with this administration:
Over the weekend, Republicans pushed back hard against the Obama administration’s spurious charges that the Bush administration never had a coherent Afghanistan policy.
Kristofer Harrison, who served as the Chief of Staff to the Counselor of the Secretary of State during the Bush administration wrote to the Powerline boys to comment on Paul Mirengoff’s post “No class, bad character” which pertained to Dick Cheney’s speech this past week, Stephen Hayes’s Weekly Standard article “Obama’s minions are ingrates,” and Scott Johnson’s post “No class, bad character: The inside story” , all excellent articles well worth your time. Mr. Harrison writes:
You, Paul and Stephen have the story dead to rights. I was involved in the the Bush administration’s 2008 Afghanistan review and it was every bit as in depth and serious as the one several years earlier for Iraq. It involved many of the same people who helped conduct Gen. McChrystal’s recent review and included Democrats, Republicans, our British allies, Afghans, etc. The strategy put forward was sound and competent, and carbon-copy similar to the one that President Obama announced in March.
It is also true that team Obama was briefed on this review before assuming office. In fact, we began briefing both campaigns even before the election. I don’t remember the dates, but well before the election we began bringing together the national security teams from both campaigns for in-depth briefing sessions under the auspices of the Aspen Institute. These were long events where Bush administration cabinet-level officials spent days — yes, days — briefing the two candidates’ advisers. After the election we began spending hours with the transition team on the details of the plan and the situation on the ground.
It is also true that Obama’s transition team asked us to hold the Afghanistan review findings, a request to which President Bush acquiesced because (as it was relayed to me) he did not want to box the new president into a narrow set of options. In March, when Obama announced his new Afghanistan strategy, I did not notice a single change from the new plan that we had given him…only Obama did not resource it with enough troops.
Just to review, here is General Raum Emanuel, claiming that they were having to start from scratch because the previous administration hadn’t asked any of the essential questions they need answered to move forward….ahem:
Now, via RCP, we find Gibbsy walking that back:
Q The Afghan review that the Bush administration — or Cheney says was handed off to your administration, you said last week you would go and look at that. What did you find when you did that, when you went and looked for the report? Did they hand it off, and what did it say?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I — well, it’s top secret, so I appreciate the opportunity to get into what it says. Many members of our administration briefed people on the review’s existence. I don’t think what was — I don’t think what’s —
Q Was your administration briefed?
MR. GIBBS: With people that — it’s been public that we got these reviews. I mean, we can show articles where these things are discussed.
While some of the information was helpful, the President obviously found it instructive to do a review of his own, and that’s what Bruce Riedel did in the spring, which led to the President signing off on additional forces that went to Afghanistan.
I don’t think it’s the existence of the reviews that seems to be an issue here, Jon. I think it’s a focus on one area of the world at the expense of another.
Apparently Emanuel “misspoke” about having to start from scratch. And now they claim that the report was only marginally helpful, anyway. Never mind that Bush officials claim that the strategy Obama announced in March was identical to the recommendations made in their report. Unfortunately there’s no way to know for sure, because it’s “top secret”.