Talking briefly on twitter with Joshua Foust (whose book Afghanistan Journal you need to purchase RIGHT NOW) I commented how draining the Af-Pak-Af world is now. I do not feel like I can respond to any outrage, any calamity, and new development, any more drone strikes. It all seems so pointless. We have all said everything so many times, what is left to say? I assume that the CM readers have places to go get their visceral outrage on.
Yet, even in that haze of muted anger, today‘s DexterFilkinia shone through in a startling way:
KABUL, Afghanistan — For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.
But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.
Spy novel? No, this is not lifted from a spy novel, this is reality and we have been saying it is exactly this fucked up for a long, long time.
American officials pursuing lower-level Taliban defections have also struggled with identifying who they are dealing with. The senior NATO official said that about 40 percent of the time the men turning themselves over to the government may not be the Taliban fighters they claim to be, but rather are looking for money or protection or something else.
“It’s hard to verify who they are,” the official said.
Afghan officials said they did not have the name of the man purporting to be Mullah Mansour.
“One would suspect that in our multibillion-dollar intel community there would be the means to differentiate between an authentic Quetta Shura emissary and a shopkeeper,” ssaid a U.S. official in Kabul who did not know about the particulars of the Mullah Mansour case. “On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. It may have been Mullah Omar posing as a shopkeeper; I’m sure that our intel whizzes wouldn’t have known.”
We kill with impunity. Just from yesterday’s news:
A drone strike Sunday on a house in the village of Khaddi, also in North Waziristan, killed nine suspected militants including a local Taliban commander and two foreigners, the intelligence officials said.
The slain insurgent leader was identified only as Mustafa, and officials said he was linked to Sadiq Noor, a key Taliban figure in North Waziristan.
So, tell me, spy novel world, how is it that you cannot identify someone you give money to, someone you introduce to highest officials but you ask us to believe that you know without any doubt that someone you kill without any formal charge, any trial is the right target?
Yeah, it makes sense.