Smart Diplomacy: Afghans and NATO Duped by Lowly Shopkeeper?

posted at 3:00 pm on November 23, 2010 by Jimmie Bise, Jr

For at least the past month, Afghan officials assisted by NATO and US diplomats, have been meeting with a man who identified himself as Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. Mansour is one of the highest-ranking members of the Taliban, perhaps second only to Mullah Omar. The intention of the meetings, shrouded in secrecy as they have been, have been either to broker a peace between the Taliban and the Afghan government or to arrange a formal exchange of prisoners. To be honest, no one is entirely sure because the Karzai government hasn’t been particularly forthcoming with the press about the issue.

Now, perhaps, we know why Hamid Karzai didn’t release many details. It turns out that the man they, and we, thought was Mullah Mansour is not Mansour at all.

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.
[...]
American officials confirmed Monday that they had given up hope that the Afghan was Mr. Mansour, or even a member of the Taliban leadership.

NATO and Afghan officials said they held three meetings with the man, who traveled from in Pakistan, where Taliban leaders have taken refuge.

The fake Taliban leader even met with President Hamid Karzai, having been flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and ushered into the presidential palace, officials said.

I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or to throw something heavy across the room. Some lowly shopkeeper from Pakistan (at least that’s the best guess) managed to fool not only our government, but the governments of goodness knows how many other NATO nations involved in these talks for at least two months.

Karzai denied this afternoon that his government ever met this man, but I”m inclined not to believe him at all. The Guardian confirmed with “a western official in Kabul” and an unnamed Afghan official that the meetings did happen and that the American government, at least, knew the man was an impostor “for some time”. That contention got backup from the Times, which revealed that our government fully believed Mansour was involved and asked the Times to keep quiet about it.

Last month, White House officials asked The New York Times to withhold Mr. Mansour’s name from an article about the peace talks, expressing concern that the talks would be jeopardized — and Mr. Mansour’s life put at risk — if his involvement were publicized. The Times agreed to withhold Mr. Mansour’s name, along with the names of two other Taliban leaders said to be involved in the discussions. The status of the other two Taliban leaders said to be involved is not clear.

The Obama administration needs to get to the bottom of this situation quickly, because right now, the real story here is that we have no earthly idea what we are doing in Afghanistan.

Now, that may be true, but it’s certainly not the message we want to send to the Taliban or to their head-chopping al-Qaeda brethren, who have to be feeling awfully good about themselves today. Not only did this ruse, which doesn’t appear to have been an intentional Taliban ploy, waste at least two months of precious time but it also exposed how woefully ineffective our intelligence gathering has been. If our government, or any NATO government, doesn’t have enough human intelligence in place to adequately identify the people who are daily trying to kill our solders, then heads need to roll. I realize the situation is difficult. I know that we’re fighting an enemy that doesn’t exactly publish a list of its leadership on an “About the Taliban” page of a website, but still, good intelligence is the foundation of fighting and winning any war. I am, quite frankly, astounded that the ruse went as far as it did and our President needs to make very sure it doesn’t happen again.


Jimmie runs The Sundries Shack and has his own very entertaining podcast called “The Delivery”. He is also an amateur musician, an aspiring composer, an unrepentant geek and an avid fan of Twitter.


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The Obama administration needs to get to the bottom of this situation quickly

Not a problem; he’s got a TSA groper right on the case.

jwolf on November 23, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Just some more of that “Smart Diplomacy”.

GarandFan on November 23, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Life is tougher, tougher when hubris makes you stupid.

BL@KBIRD on November 23, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Thats it!!! It’s time for Coondawgs Scortched Earth Policy to be put into effect!!!!

Land the 1st and 3rd MarDivs and let them start ‘a killin!!!!

the Coondawg on November 23, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Petraues has been ‘duped’ by all things Islamic from day one. A total idiot if ever there was one.

Luka on November 23, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Msm: *crickets chirping*

Another what if this happened under W’s watch

cmsinaz on November 23, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Truly Carter-esque.

james23 on November 23, 2010 at 3:17 PM

The Obama administration needs to get to the bottom of this situation quickly, because right now, the real story here is that we have no earthly idea what we are doing in Afghanistan.

Building a Bridge on the River Kwai with our Soldiers and Marines considered to be nothing more than lab rats.

Luka on November 23, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Now, that may be true, but it’s certainly not the message we want to send to the Taliban or to their head-chopping al-Qaeda brethren

Even Gates has claimed less than 100 AlQ in Afghanistan. There are probably more in Dearborne. The only ‘message’ that we have been sending them is that we are STUPID and we do not care one wit about the lives of our Soldiers and Marines, regarding them as inferior to Muslim lives.

Luka on November 23, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Bahahahahaha.
Did Obama take this guy on one of his vacations, I mean trips?

ORconservative on November 23, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Afghans are right up there with Nigerians on the corruption scale. They have to hustle to live.

Paul-Cincy on November 23, 2010 at 3:23 PM

the real story here is that we have no earthly idea what we are doing in Afghanistan.

Building infrastructure so that the mountain IPad makers can get their product to the marketplace in a timely fashion instead of sitting around in mountain warehouses for months?

BL@KBIRD on November 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM

We don’t need HUMINT.

Obama said once he was president and apologized for all the evil perpetrated throughout history by America and particularly against Islam, all would be forgiven and we’d have nothing but skittle crapping unicorn peace on earth.

So either the Lightworker is FOS or you’re just attacking him with recycled talking points from the FEUX News conservative media complex

catmman on November 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM

the Coondawg on November 23, 2010 at 3:14 PM

As things are standing, a real scorched earth policy would be better, and cheaper.

We could even get some international credits for reducing our nuke stockpile. The UN wouldn’t even have to send inspectors, just watch the mushroom cloud.

It also has the added benefit of not needing to send any more troops. Plus the Norks and everyone else would understand enough is enough.

I write all of this with only about 50% of tongue firmly implanted in cheek.

catmman on November 23, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Un-freaking-believable!

milwife88 on November 23, 2010 at 3:31 PM

The Obama administration needs to get to the bottom of this situation quickly, because right now, the real story here is that we have no earthly idea what we are doing in Afghanistan.

Thank God the adults are in charge!!!!!

Baxter Greene on November 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM

That shop keeper needs to start selling stuff on TV. If he could sell this to NATO, he could sell poop to Americans.

Tim Burton on November 23, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Just goes to show. Diplomacy and olive branches are a waste of time when it comes to Islam. The handling of this war has been an utter farce. It almost makes Vietnam look professional by comparison.

Grayson on November 23, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Wonder how much I could get if I changed my name to Alfouraci Muhammadeucer. Never mind I ain’t going to Dearborn or Afghanistan.

fourdeucer on November 23, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Time for us to go home folks. It’s beyond obvious that Obama simply doesn’t want to win. Besides, Airport profiling, Chinese style sea-port cargo screening, and REAL border control would have ended this “war” on terrorism about nine years ago and saved us thousands of troops a few trillions dollars. Think about it – All those lives, lost money, and loss of domestic liberty when traveling really aren’t the cost of safety – IT’S THE COST OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!!

abobo on November 23, 2010 at 3:49 PM

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.

Just a reminder of what the “smartest people in the room” said about Obama when he took over the oval office:


THOMAS A. DASCHLE
Former Senate majority leader (D)


The president has assembled a world-class Cabinet and a dynamic White House staff. He has been deft in handling the financial crisis and showed true leadership on the global stage.


KATHLEEN DALTON
Author of “Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life”


President Obama enters his second 100 days with an advantage over many previous occupants of the White House. He insists upon keeping his eyes on the prize — the big issues of governance that helped get him elected.

Micheal Hersh
Newsweek


The president has assembled a team of Harvard and Yale types whose SAT scores have not been equaled since perhaps the Kennedy administration.


Dan Farber
CBS News


Mr. Obama has assembled a team with deep education, training and experience


NACD
Directorship Editors


turning again to the FDR playbook, Obama assembled a team of wise men and women, formidable economic and business minds


Mark Halperin
Time Magazine


Let’s start with the competence Obama has shown. As he proved in the campaign, he is a master of personnel decisions, choosing people who are excellent at what they do


Inderjit Singh Chief Executive Infiniti Solutions


President-elect Obama has recruited among the best people to lead the key portfolios in his Cabinet. Having assembled the best talent America can provide

Trillions of dollars spent…..failed stimulus….Healthcare Bill that does none of what Obama promised…..bailouts…..corrupt DOJ….kicked around by Putin……laughed at by Ahmadinejad……sent troops to Afghanistan with an exit date….Broken promises left and right….GDP hitting the floor….Unemployment at all time highs…..

The greatest administration evaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

Baxter Greene on November 23, 2010 at 3:52 PM

How long will it be before the Obama regime says of course they knew all along that this particular Mansour was “fake.”

In fact, the fake Mansour was one of our spies…to make sure Karzai is on the up and up. (which, of course, he isn’t)

What a bunch of morons. Feel safe yet?

marybel on November 23, 2010 at 4:03 PM

BobMbx thinks duct tape and plastic sheeting provide more security than the US government is capable of.

Off to Lowes.

BobMbx on November 23, 2010 at 4:10 PM

But Bush was a moron, you see.

Asher on November 23, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Another what if this happened under W’s watch

cmsinaz on November 23, 2010 at 3:16 PM

The facts are plain: It DIDN’T happen on W’s watch.

Why? I’ll make it a multiple choice answer:

1) Obama is a wimp
2) Obama is a coward
3) N. Korea didn’t want to tangle with W.

BobMbx on November 23, 2010 at 4:22 PM

BobMbx on November 23, 2010 at 4:22 PM

my point was the msm is not going bonkers over this little snafu and yet bash bush continuously over every little issue….tingles would be going ballistic

cmsinaz on November 23, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Where is Biden when we need him?

right2bright on November 23, 2010 at 5:23 PM

We have a sucker, as well as a sock puppet, in charge of our nation’s security!!

“Fighting Terrorists by feeling up one Grandma at a time”!!

landlines on November 23, 2010 at 6:16 PM