The Office of the Secretary of Defense does not believe that Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal or his staff was behind the leak of a classified assessment yesterday that outlined the general's call for more troops, according to the top Pentagon spokesman.
Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, disputed the contention of a source who speculated that officers in Afghanistan gave the McChrystal assessment to the Washington Post in an effort to pressure President Obama to increase force levels as part of his pending Afghan policy review.
There is absolutely no way to know who leaked the assessment and anyone claiming to know is either lying or mistaken, said Morrell.
"The secretary of defense does not believe that General McChrystal or his team was responsible for leaking this sensitive information," Morrell continued. "Nor are we wasting our time playing Washington parlor games trying to figure out who did it. ... We have better things to do."
The perception that the Pentagon or administration leadership is faulting McChrystal or is at odds with him could perpetuate a story line that there is a schism between the commander and the civilian leadership, which would be misleading, according to Morrell.
"Anonymous sources playing guessing games about who may or may not be responsible for who is leaking the assessment doesn't do anybody any good," said Morrell. "Nobody knows."
In that same article on The Cable, under secretary of defense for policy Michèle Flournoy sought to put the McChrystal assessment in context, saying, "The McChrystal assessment is one input, one very important input, into a larger conversation that the president is having on where we go on Afghanistan."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.