The Wikileaks Cables: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 12/3/2010

By MichaelJames

Dec 3, 2010 10:08pm

On Air Force One, two of President Obama's national security advisers — Gen. Douglas Lute and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes — took questions on the president's visit to Afghanistan. They said that the Wikileaks cables did not come up in the president's conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

TAPPER: You're saying that Ambassador Eikenberry being quoted in classified cables on the front page of The New York Times criticizing Karzai’s half-brother — this didn’t come up?

GENERAL LUTE:  Well, it didn’t come up because those cables are dated.  Most of them were dated such that as we conducted the month-long review last fall this was a major topic.  So it wasn’t news to either president — obviously.  So it didn’t come up.

RHODES:  Let me just add, Jake, as somebody who’s been working with WikiLeaks response a little more actively than Doug — as a part of our — well, two things.  First of all, this is not the first WikiLeaks dump that was relevant to Afghanistan.  We had one just entirely devoted to it.  But as a part of this WikiLeaks exposure, just as we did with embassies around the world, Secretary Clinton spoke to President Karzai about it and Ambassador Eikenberry then went in to brief the Afghan government to include President Karzai about what we expected in these WikiLeaks.  So there had already been consultation with the Afghan government about this in the previous several days, just as the State Department has been running consultations with governments around the world what we thought to be in the cables.

It’s worth pointing out, as Doug said, not only are they dated but they also speak to issues that have been in the public domain through different vehicles for some time.

TAPPER: Does the fact that they’re now out complicate Eikenberry’s assignment at the embassy? 

RHODES:  I think he’s been a very effective ambassador. Frankly, it’s not the first cable of his that found its way into The New York Times, if you’ll recall.  He’s managed to, despite that kind of reporting, again, be a very good ambassador for the United States, to be a very good partner with the Afghans.  Doug works with him on a daily basis.  He can speak to that. 

So I think, look, it’s part of a very challenging war that we're engaged in in Afghanistan.  But we, right now, with the Afghans, are aligned on our strategic priorities and that, to us, is more important than the effect of this information.

-Jake Tapper

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