Briefing Skipper: Afghan runoff, Nozette, Tajbakhsh, ArmorGroup
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of today’s briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly: The U.S. will fully support the runoff Afghanistan presidential election now planned for Nov. 7, Kelly said. He also extended thanks on behalf of Secretary of ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights of today’s briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly:
- The U.S. will fully support the runoff Afghanistan presidential election now planned for Nov. 7, Kelly said. He also extended thanks on behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Senator John Kerry and Amb. Karl Eikenberry, but not Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, who has been sidelined during the recent developments.
- Kelly couldn’t say whether the runoff will be better managed than the original election, where massive vote fraud took place, and wouldn’t assign any blame to President Hamid Karzai. But he claimed that the runoff was an example of a successful process managed by the Afghan government. "The bottom line is, the system worked. The fraud was caught," he said with a straight face.
- No comment on the arrest of Maryland scientist Stuart David Nozette, who stands accused of passing classified information to Israel. But special envoy George Mitchell did meet with the Israelis and the Palestinians today and Clinton will report to President Obama on the state of play within the next week or so. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice will go to Israel this week to speak at a conference put on by Israeli President Shimon Peres.
- The State Department is "concerned" that Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in Iranian protests, apparently without the benefit of a defense attorney. Kelly called for his release, along with other American citizens imprisoned there, including Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, Reza Taghavi, and possibly Robert Levinson.
- The State Department has requested the removal of four more guards from the ArmorGroup scandal, wherein Kabul contractors were caught in photos performing "deviant sexual acts" as part of an apparent hazing ritual. The investigation is ongoing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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