Green on Blue Incidents in Afghanistan, Withdrawal, and the Detained Yemeni Journalist — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 3/15/2012

Mar 15, 2012 2:10pm

TAPPER: Just a follow-up on Jessica’s question about the incident yesterday. There have been eight green-on-blue incidents this year alone. Twelve of the 59 coalition troops who have been killed were killed by Afghan supposed allies. Last time I talked to somebody in the White House about this, I was told that the latest information — this was a few weeks ago – was that they were all unrelated cases. Is that still what the information you have says, that these are all unrelated?

CARNEY: I don’t have any information that would alter that assessment, but that’s an assessment that I think is more — is made in more depth over at the Pentagon and elsewhere. The — it is important to remember, as I think I noted during one of my briefings, the huge volume of missions carried out by — jointly by U.S. and Afghan forces daily, weekly and effectively, which does not in any way take away from the terrible incidents that you cite, including those in the wake of the inadvertent burning of the Quran.

So I don’t have any information that suggests a different evaluation of the nature of these incidents. I — perhaps the Pentagon does. But I think, you know, we have to remember how broad the mission is over there, how many operations occur with Afghan and U.S. forces working together towards the same goal, and effectively, in preventing the Taliban from gaining momentum and taking the fight to al-Qaida. So that would — that’s the — that’s where we are right now. I would refer you to the Pentagon for more.

TAPPER: OK. Can I ask two more question? The president has said yesterday that the incidents and all these incidents in the last month or so would not quicken — this is not a quote, but they would not quicken the pace of U.S. withdrawal. Is it possible, though, that they could change the pace in terms of when the Afghans take more of a lead in security, as Karzai suggested? Is that possible?

CARNEY: Well, look, we make these assessments, as the president has made clear when he’s spoken about this issue, when he laid out his strategy, when he spoke about it in the wake of Lisbon, in coordination with our allies and in a manner that is designed to ensure that we are as successful as possible in fulfilling the objectives of the mission.

We are operating under a timetable that was laid out in Lisbon, that includes, as part of these evaluations, the — what the president said yesterday about transitioning in 2013 into a support role as part of the full transition to full Afghan security lead in 2014. I think within the context of that framework, how that — as we’ve always said, the pace of withdrawal, the nature of deployments, how quickly certain territories in Afghanistan are turned over — you know, those kinds of details I’m sure will be made closer to the ground. Those decisions will be made closer to the ground and will depend on conditions as the weeks and months go on.

But the overall structure, I think, is clear. And I think it’s — in the context of this, what I think a lot of people have missed, as there has been a focus on the initial surge in forces in Afghanistan and in the successes we’ve had there and the progress we’ve made there as well as the challenges we’ve faced, is that part of that strategy the president put in place was to have a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops, to ending that war responsibly. And that is his strategy, and he’s implementing it.

TAPPER: And the last question has to do — there’s been some press notice to a Yemeni journalist who’s been detained. President Obama, when he spoke to President Saleh more than year ago, it was actually mentioned in the readout that the president expressed concern over the release of — I’m — I know I’m going to botch the pronunciation of his name, but Abdulelah al-Shaye, who’d been sentenced to five years in prison for association with AQAP. There have been journalistic organizations, international ones, who have protested his detention and expressed curiosity if not outrage that President Obama would be involving himself in the detention of a journalist. Can you tell us anything about why President Obama thinks that this man — apparently thinks that this man is a threat?

CARNEY: I appreciate the question, Jake, but I will have to take it because I don’t have any information on it. But I’ll get back to you.

-Jake Tapper

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