Update, 8:50 a.m.: I am retracting this post, published yesterday, titled “Inside This Morning’s White House Afghanistan Meeting: Anger With Eikenberry, ‘Beef’ With McChrystal.”
My original source for the post stands by the account provided. The individual, a National Security Council staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity, has provided truthful and verified information on past stories, and so I trusted the source for this one. Elements of the account have been subsequently borne out: yesterday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Obama will ask his Afghanistan-Pakistan advisers to provide him with an exit strategy for the eight-year war, which is congruent with but not identical to my source’s information that Obama has asked the team to derive timetables for troop withdrawal.
But there are greater problems with the post. For one, the source was not actually present for the video teleconference that is the post’s central scene, and passed information to me second-hand. Furthermore, not only has the White House’s Tommy Vietor denied, on the record, that Ambassador Karl Eikenberry participated in a video teleconference yesterday morning, but the other two individuals I named as being present for the meeting — the inspector generals for Iraq and Afghanistan — have, through representatives, denied being present. I cannot subsequently stand by this account.
From the start, the post should have a) more clearly indicated that my source wasn’t present at the meeting; b) more clearly indicated that the account provided was single-sourced; and c) verified the information provided before publication. My enthusiasm for a hot story outpaced my professional judgment. For that I take full responsibility, retract the story and issue a full apology for its publication.
Update, 10:57 p.m.: White House spokesman Tommy Vietor says he checked with Amb. Eikenberry’s office and the teleconference call reported in this post did not occur. I am continuing to re-report this story and will update as soon as I have additional information.
Update: This post has been edited for clarity.
Update 2: My apologies. I am told by Fields’ spokeswoman that the Afghanistan inspector-general did not in fact feature in the meeting and is in fact in his Virginia office, not Kabul.