Dead Drop: October 19

‘EXPERT’ COMMENTATOR: TV commentator and former CIA Officer Robert Baer recently appeared on CNN to talk about the strange circumstances surrounding the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  CNN’s anchor asked Baer “If it was a botched interrogation, how does something like this go so wrong, especially if it involves senior intelligence officers?”  Baer answered, “Well, if it was a botched interrogation, a man of that age, if you hit him hard enough a couple of times, could die of a heart attack.  I’ve seen that happen over and over again in the Middle East, where they’re over-aggressive and they die during the interrogation.”  Wait a minute. Rewind. Did Baer say that as a CIA Officer, he has seen the death of detainees ‘over and over again’ because they were beaten too hard during interrogations?  Did he report that at the time, or was he saving it for cable news?  Sounds like there could be a special expert commentator chair for him up on Capitol Hill.

 ODD MAN OUT: A recent New York Times article headlined “Afghan Leader Blindsided by U.S. Meeting With Taliban” describes a messy diplomatic dust storm growing in Afghanistan.  It seems that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is months away from an election, was feeling uneasy about being cut out of Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.  This, after the new American Special Envoy and veteran Afghan hand Zalmay Khalizad quietly met with the Taliban.  The Times citing unnamed officials saying that President Ghani asked Khalizad about the talks, but the American envoy “changed the subject”.  The Times reports that a furious Ghani reached out to other officials for assurance, including U.S. General Austin S. Miller, the ninth U.S. General to command U.S forces in Afghanistan, who reportedly assured Ghani that he was not being cut out of the talks.  If all of this sounds like a story you’ve heard before, it is – if you’ve read ‘Directorate S’, by Steve Coll.  The Dead Drop suggests President Ghani picks up a copy, before the next DOD or State Department meeting.  We also suggest he keeps his jet fueled up…

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