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The story...

US representatives revealed plans for the Afghan war at a Berlin meeting in July 2001.

Our take...

The talk of the Bush administration giving the Taliban "one last chance" and the mention of US representatives might make you think this was an official American Government delegation. But in reality, those attending were all retired diplomats, and the meeting itself was sponsored by the UN:

In July 2001, a group of retired diplomats from the United States, Iran, Pakistan and Russia gathered in Berlin to discuss the future of Afghanistan. It was one of several brainstorming sessions about that troubled country sponsored by the United Nations last year.

We might assume that these retired diplomats had been briefed on current US policy, but that would just be an assumption. Griffin presents no evidence for it, and a Salon article suggests this is unlikely:

In fact, Simons and the other Americans argue, the very fact that they are old, retired and out of the diplomatic loop makes them an unlikely choice for the transmission of a specific military threat like the one Naik describes. Since they didn't come in with Bush -- Inderfurth, a Clinton appointee, actually quit the day before Bush took office -- they lacked direct access to the decision makers who would put forth such an idea. Plus, Bush had other options. Administration officials were already planning to meet with Taliban representatives when the Berlin meetings occurred, and on Aug. 2, 2001, assistant secretary of state Christina Rocca did just that. Rocca did not return repeated calls for comment.

And with official channels already in use, Coldren argues, why would the White House bother using a bunch or retirees to announce an imminent military strike?


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