Washington: The CIA station chief in
Afghanistan has assumed a key troubleshooting role in US
dealings with President Hamid Karzai, including tasks normally
reserved for diplomatic and military officials, the Wall
Street Journal reported today.
"Karzai needs constant reassurance," one former
colleague of the US intelligence official told the daily,
describing the Central Intelligence Agency station chief as
the Afghan president`s "security blanket."
The daily wrote that the station chief, a former
Marine in his 50s who is known to some colleagues by the
nickname "Spider," generally is called upon during critical
The Journal reported that when the Afghan leader
lashed out against his Western partners, it was the station
chief who was tapped by the White House to calm him.
"He`s spent time with Karzai like no one else has,"
said a former senior intelligence official told the daily.
Karzai earlier this year unleashed a round of
anti-Western invective, suggesting he might even join the
Taliban in response to foreign meddling in the Afghan
elections and other grievances.
Besides his relationship with Karzai, the CIA
station chief is said to also carry out the more traditional
role of running CIA operations in Afghanistan.
The CIA is expanding its presence there by 20 per
cent to 25 per cent, in its largest surge since Vietnam. The
several hundred officers assigned to Afghanistan outnumber
those in Iraq at the height of that war, the Journal reported.
Meanwhile, the US administration reportedly is
still trying to get all of its leaders in Afghanistan on the
same page, following the dismissal earlier this year of
General Stanley McChrystal and other upheaval that has put a
strain on US-Afghan relations.