November 12th, 2009
12:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Afghan president's office contacts U.S. embassy

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office contacted the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan about reports the envoy warned against sending more U.S. troops to the country, a Karzai spokesman told CNN Thursday.

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's office would not confirm the reports to Karzai's office, Karzai spokesman Seyemic Herawi said.

Karzai will not comment on the reports without more information from the U.S. embassy, Herawi said.

Eikenberry's reservations were reportedly spelled out in cables sent to U.S. President Barack Obama last week. Eikenberry has previously expressed worry about corruption in Karzai's government and its ability to partner with the United States to fight the Taliban.

A senior State Department official told CNN that the Obama administration has questions about Karzai's behavior, suggesting that it has been inconsistent.

Asked for an official response on reports of the cables, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said it does not comment on private messages, but did confirm that there had been correspondence between Eikenberry and the president.

Earlier, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "We won't discuss classified documents publicly, but, as we have said for months, success in Afghanistan depends on having a true partner in the Afghan government."

Initial reports of cables sent by Eikenberry appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. All three attributed the reports to senior U.S. officials, without identifying them.

The developments came as Obama told his war council Wednesday that the U.S. troop commitment to Afghanistan is not open-ended, and then asked for revisions to options he previously received for sending more troops, a senior administration official told CNN.

The war council - comprising top Cabinet, Pentagon and administration officials - met with Obama for the eighth time to discuss a request by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan for up to 40,000 more troops. The meeting lasted more than two hours, according to the senior administration official.

"The president and his team discussed the length of time that it would take to implement the options he's been presented," the senior official said. "The president believes that we need to make clear to the Afghan government that our commitment is not open-ended. After years of substantial investments by the American people, governance in Afghanistan must improve in a reasonable period of time to ensure a successful transition to our Afghan partner."

In particular, Obama pushed for revisions in proposed plans for troop increases to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, the official said.

The president's questions at the meeting could determine how many troops eventually are sent to Afghanistan, as well as how long they would be there, according to the senior administration official.

Earlier, a senior administration official and a U.S. military official independently told CNN that one option presented to Obama calls for sending about 34,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, in addition to the 68,000 already committed to the country.

The military official said the plan would send three U.S. Army brigades, totaling about 15,000 troops; a Marine brigade of about 8,000 troops; a headquarters element of about 7,000 troops; and 4,000 to 5,000 support troops. The combat brigades would be brought in gradually, in three-month intervals, according to the military official.

The troops would be spread across the country, mainly focusing in the south and southeast, where much of the fighting is, according to the military official. The option has been a favorite at the Pentagon in recent weeks, the official added.

That is only one option, the senior administration official emphasized. Three other options, the official said, would be "different mixes," or "different components of it."

Despite reports to the contrary, Obama has not decided the number of U.S. troops he will send to Afghanistan, White House officials said.

Such reports are "absolutely false," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. And anyone who suggests otherwise, "doesn't have, in all honesty, the slightest idea what they're talking about."

Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee urged Obama in a letter sent Wednesday - Veterans Day - to agree to the request for additional troops by U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan.

The letter, signed by 10 Republican committee members, said success in Afghanistan will require local leaders and citizens being able to govern and secure their country without substantial international assistance.

- CNN 's Suzanne Malveaux, Mike Mount, Chris Lawrence and Tom Cohen
contributed to this report.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Obama administration
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Sharon Northern Virginia

    Bring our Troops home, PLEASE!!!!!!! Glad The President is thinking before acting.

    November 12, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Karzai needs to take leadership in his own government which he hasn't done before questioning whether our President is going to send more troops. It's important that President Obama is taking his time which lets Karzai know this is a different administration with a different direction.

    November 12, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Tom in Delaware

    Barry votes present again....Happy Veterans Day.

    November 12, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. CalDem

    Careful, these guys are all about playing both ends against the middle to get what's best for them, not the US, not the West, or any other person on this planet.

    November 12, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. Peace

    War never give the anticipated results. Lives of those needed got lost and can not be replaced again. Better other solutions than using a gun. History has shown this!

    November 12, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Mississippi Miss

    This administration might as well hold their high level talks on the set of Saturday Night Live. Their 'strategy' sessions are a strategy unto themselves. Lights... camera... inaction...

    November 12, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Jim in Florida

    This is what happens when campaign donors are given ambassadorships. Kind of like Saddam playing the female ambassador like a fiddle before he invaded Kuwait.


    November 12, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Debbie

    Glad Obama is being cautious.

    Afghanistan is a non-win war. History shows that this cannot be a ground troops war either.

    Bush did not get Osama as promised. Bush chose to focus on Iraq under false premises.

    Now the issue has evolved and threats to us have grown.

    Afghanistan must be fought smarter not just throwing more troops there. More troops will equal more bloodshed but not a win. Winning wars is a very WWII idea.

    Today is very different because of the atomic bomb and its destruction. To use the A-bomb would be to not only start WWIII but the end to the world. So we look at war (evidence in Korean War) as to success/win to mean something very different than in the 1940's. It might be a DMZ zone, slow withdrawal, etc.

    Our troops are beyond brave and should be appreciated. And we show our thanks to them by saying thank you as we meet them, and we do not send them into harms way without a mission and a withdrawl plan.

    November 12, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. stephen Pagnozzi

    If Bush wasn't so preocupied with IRAQ, this conversation would have been academic! Either we would have concrete results by now, or we would have simply been forced to leave. Cannot fight 2 wars simultanously!!! I wish all our stupid Politicians would read a little history. We had no choice in WW11 but now we have. Iraq was a problem but not one where we had to go to war. Bush really screwed our country for a long time, And its going to take a long time to get back to a bit of normalcy.

    November 12, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Pam from Tn.

    There is No mission, No reason and No purpose!

    November 12, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. JonDie

    The ambassador knows what he is talking about. We should cut Karzai loose...NOW!

    Our soldiers shouldn't give their lives to protect this corrupt and incompetent dictator.

    November 12, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Traj

    Thank you Mr. President, for having the calm and cool temper that is needed in these times. When everything is up in arms, there has to be a sensible person around to keep peace. No need to go rushing into the burning building when someone yells fire. Reason: You'll get burned... Duh!!!!

    November 12, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Laura in KS

    I'm glad our President is seriously weighing all options before making this decision. It's easy for us civilians to sit on our butts and criticize him for not immediately sending more troops, but what some seem to forget is that many of our troops are already serving their 3rd, 4th, even 5th tours in Iraq & Afghanistan. Think about how you'd feel if it was your son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother that was going to be sent back as a result–quite possibly never to return. Yes, that is their job, and it is a noble one, but let's make sure it's worth it before sending them to possible death.

    November 12, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. Bummed out by the Bozos

    Jack Nicholson was right:

    "We can't handle the truth'.

    The spin is ridiculous.
    The facts non-existent.
    The photo-ops are limitless.

    Does ANYONE know what is going on with these fellas?

    November 12, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Drew

    I am glad President Obama is thinking about how and when he send troops to a country that would not welcome their present. People if we send the troops like the Repubs wants, we will be killing our young people for nothing. Why are we there in the first place? You Republicans started this mess so why can't you guys clean it up and get our troops out. Republicans like war, but if it was your child what would you say?

    November 12, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. Informed Voter

    Thank goodness he is making a deliberate, well thought out decision, instead of going with his "gut" like his ill equipped predecessor would do. We are so blessed to finally have an intelegent leader!

    November 12, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. silvertop

    Why did this news leak out? That one of the president's concerns in not sending troops is the corruption of the Afgan government (though may be a fact.).

    I worried immediately, that of all the conciliatory speeches he gave with political correctness to appease the muslim nations, this question has got to rile up the Afgan people, especially if we decide to move out. That sounds like an insult (even if the concern is merited) which would undo any bond between our countries for good.

    Who leaked to the media? Of course the media will not think twice about the effect of reporting such sensational news for sensational news value.

    Irresponsible, regardless of decision to send or not send.

    November 12, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Karzai was Bush's guy........that alone would make me very suspiciuos of him. Time to cut bait and come back home.

    November 12, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Abhishek

    Hmm...well maybe after 8 years, what the Afghan people want will finally be heard. Instead of America telling what the Afghan people want.

    November 12, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Stan

    Typical Republican response – one hand says "Agree to send more troops NOW!" while the other says "We'll never be able to win unless they can do the work themselves." The two options seem mutually exclusive to me.

    November 12, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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