Levett is the latest congressional staffer to take up a post in the Obama
administration, accepting an appointment as special assistant for the State
Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
spent the past four years working for Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House
committee on Homeland Security. As a senior advisor there, he "managed a number
of policy oversight portfolios including the Secret Service and protective
security issues ranging from continuity of government operations to national
special security events, interagency coordination and engagements between DHS
and the Defense Department, and international security affairs and
antiterrorism programs," a committee spokesman told The Cable.
he joins the INL bureau, known as "drugs and thugs" because they deal with
international narcotics control strategy and law enforcement development in
conflict and post-conflict countries. There he will work for INL Assistant
Secretary Amb. David Johnson on policy coordination and legislative
previously worked as an aide to House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, in the front office of the U.S. Embassy in London, and with the
Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
Kai Eide, the
recently ousted head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, paid a visit to the
State Department Thursday morning.
Eide's contract wasn't renewed following a very public fracas with his second in
command, Peter Galbraith, over how
to handle the widespread fraud in the recent reelection of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Galbraith accused Eide of
him fired for speaking out about the fraud. Eide himself may
also been cashiered for being seen as too close to Karzai.
Apparently a little bitter, in his parting words to the U.N.
in New York Wednesday, Eide took a broad swipe at the U.S.-led mission in
Afghanistan, warning of a military-focused strategy and urging international
forces in Afghanistan not to expand the surge into new civilian areas.
The military surge must not be
allowed to undermine equally important civilian objectives and the development
of such a politically driven strategy. It must not lead to an accelerated
pressure for quick results in governance and economic development efforts,
which could divert resources from a long-term approach to civilian institution
building and economic growth. Furthermore, it must not lead the military to
expand their engagement into key civilian areas, such as those I just
mentioned. That could result in a situation where the international community
becomes more entrenched rather than a situation where the Afghans are more
So what was Eide's message when he met with Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton and Special
Representative for Af-Pak Richard
Holbrooke this morning in Foggy Bottom? Apparently it was about peeling off
some of the Taliban through some sort of political engagement.
"There isn't any question that our policy has to include an
opportunity for those people fighting with the Taliban to rejoin the political
process," Holbrooke told an audience at the Brookings Institution Thursday. "I would estimate that 60 to
70 or more percent of those people fighting with the Taliban are not
ideologically supportive of al Qaeda at all and are not necessarily supportive
of the Taliban supreme leadership."
Clinton acknowledged the need to start separating the
die-hard Taliban from the hangers-on in her July speech
to the Council on Foreign Relations, but no real engagement is happening, at
least that we know of. Holbrooke said the idea existed on paper but never got
any real traction.
The closest thing publicly announced was a
conference in Tokyo set up by Japanese parliamentarians last November, in
which Afghan government representatives discussed Taliban engagement with a
range of international representatives.
Also at Brookings, Holbrooke denied, again, that he is somehow
secretly working on the Kashmir issue or dealing with India policy in any way,
as is rumored around Washington.
"I am not negotiating issues between India and Pakistan," he
said. "It's not my job nor would it be productive if I were to undertake it."