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Pentagon spokesman: We don’t think McChrystal leaked

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 ...

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.

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."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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