Kristofer Harrison served as the Chief of Staff to the Counselor of the Secretary of State during the Bush administration. Mr. Harrison writes to comment on Paul Mirengoff’s post “No class, bad character” on Dick Cheney’s speech this past week, Stephen Hayes’s Weekly Standard article “Obama’s minions are ingrates,” and my post “No class, bad character: The inside story” on both of them. Mr. Harrison writes:
You, Paul and Stephen have the story dead to rights. I was involved in the the Bush administration’s 2008 Afghanistan review and it was every bit as in depth and serious as the one several years earlier for Iraq. It involved many of the same people who helped conduct Gen. McChrystal’s recent review and included Democrats, Republicans, our British allies, Afghans, etc. The strategy put forward was sound and competent, and carbon-copy similar to the one that President Obama announced in March.
It is also true that team Obama was briefed on this review before assuming office. In fact, we began briefing both campaigns even before the election. I don’t remember the dates, but well before the election we began bringing together the national security teams from both campaigns for in-depth briefing sessions under the auspices of the Aspen Institute. These were long events where Bush administration cabinet-level officials spent days — yes, days — briefing the two candidates’ advisers. After the election we began spending hours with the transition team on the details of the plan and the situation on the ground.
It is also true that Obama’s transition team asked us to hold the Afghanistan review findings, a request to which President Bush acquiesced because (as it was relayed to me) he did not want to box the new president into a narrow set of options. In March, when Obama announced his new Afghanistan strategy, I did not notice a single change from the new plan that we had given him…only Obama did not resource it with enough troops.
The Chicago mob’s behavior is unbelievably unseemly. Here they were given an immense amount of material, a complete strategic review and plan with the author’s heading left blank. President Bush felt it was his duty to do so. And all Obama can do is smear president Bush, even after he filled his own name into the author’s column.
Obama seems not to understand that it is not President Bush who is suffering here. Rather, it is our under-resourced soldiers in Afghanistan who are suffering. Obama has had his hands on this plan for a full year now, and he’s done virtually nothing except play politics. He needs to give our soldiers the resources to succeed, and then help create the political atmosphere so that they have time to succeed. It seems he has the intestinal fortitude to do neither. Weak, weak, weak.