Intelligence Matters: In Afghanistan, Karzai Ousts Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and Intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh


Hamid Karzai has ousted the two top intelligence officials in his government, on the stated ground that they failed to prevent the Taliban attack on the peace jirga in Kabul last week. See Alissa J.Rubin, “Afghan Leader Forces Out Top 2 Security Officials,” New York Times,  June 6, 2010.

U.S. officials expressed surprise, she reported, as they said they had good working relationships with Hanif Atmar, the Interior minister, and Amrullah Saleh, the intelligence chief.

How this development may affect the coming U.S. offensive in Kandahar is not clear. 

AP reported the reaction of Karzai’s opponent in the August 20, 2009 first-round presidential elections as follows:

“I would say it’s a hasty and irrational decision by a president of Afghanistan who has deprived his own government of professional capacity to combat the insurgency,” Abdullah, a key Northern Alliance leader and former foreign minister, told The Associated Press. “The only party that will benefit is the Taliban.”
–Rahim Faiez and Matthew Pennington, “Karzai defends removal of Afghan security chiefs,” Associated Press, June 7, 2010.

See also the following articles:

Amanda Hodge, “Afghan security chiefs resign,” The Australian,
June 8, 2010

Abubakar Siddique, “Resignations Of Top Afghan Security Officials Have Broad Implications,” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL),
June 8, 2010

June 6, 2010

Jon Boone, “Afghan interior minister and spy chief resign over jirga security breaches: Double resignation seen as ‘disaster’ for international efforts to improve country’s security and reform police force, ” The Guardian (,
June 6, 2010

Jonathan Burch “INTERVIEW-Afghan ex-intel chief says opposed Karzai peace plan,” Reuters, June 7, 2010

Karim Talibi (AFP), “Afghan resignations threaten US-led security drive,”
AFP / Google, June 7, 2010

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"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.