All They Had to Do Was Ask

Eric Schmitt’s front-page story in today’s New York Times—a report on the details of cables sent in November in which Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, expressed strong concerns about the quality of the Karzai government and the commitment of further American troops—includes this interesting note on how the Times obtained the documents:

An American official provided a copy of the cables to The Times after a reporter requested them. The official said it was important for the historical record that Mr. Eikenberry’s detailed assessments be made public, given that they were among the most important documents produced during the debate that led to the troop buildup.

At his blog, Spencer Ackerman remarks: “You can see why a civic-minded leaker wants the record to reflect that. I think I read similar cables in some book written by David Halberstam.” But Ackerman also offers a fuller explanation than the Times story does for why Eikenberry, despite his objections, now says he supports the Obama administration’s plan “without equivocation”: the plan, as enacted, addressed most of his concerns.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.