The New York Times November 22, 2010
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.
“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”
Phi Beta Iota: We speculate that the CIA “A Team” consisted of old case officers promoted at least two ranks in person (RIP) past their merit, and completely naive about the language, the culture, and the realities on the ground. The translator(s) may have been from the wrong tribe and may have been in for a slice of the action. We speculate that CIA blew at least $2.5 million on this, in bricks of $500,000. The Afghans are about as inept as the CIA expect for language–they know very little about the Taliban and our training slides for them (and for Iraq) are seriously pathetic–link analysis and the assumptions are wrong. The Chairman of Satchi & Satchi has it right: “Until you get the truth on the table, no matter how ugly, you cannot deal with it.”
Phi Beta Iota: Probable spin. The truth teller, which should come in hearings, is exactly how much CIA paid this individual without checking his bona fides, case officering 101. This is right up there with Khost Kathy, with CIA lying to the President of the United States in providing intelligence from a known Soviet agent turned double agent, and so many other things.