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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Galbraith's story heats up

Peter Galbraith, of Townshend, is back in the heat of things, still battling with his former boss after Galbraith was fired from his U.N. job in Afghanistan. The tale even invokes Galbraith's flirtation with running for office in Vermont.

Last week, the New York Times reported that Galbraith proposed to Kai Eide, his U.N. boss in Afghanistan, enlisting the White House in a plan to replace the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

“He told me he would first meet with Vice President Biden,” Mr. Eide wrote. “If the vice president agreed with Galbraith’s proposal they would approach President Obama with the following plan: President Karzai should be forced to resign as president.” Then a new government would be installed led by a former finance minister, Ashraf Ghani, or a former interior minister, Ali A. Jalali, both favorites of American officials.


Vijay Nambiar, chief of staff to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said that he was aware of Mr. Galbraith’s proposal to go to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and develop support for the plan, and later learned of Mr. Karzai’s anger over the episode. Mr. Nambiar said it played a role in Mr. Galbraith’s firing.

According to the Times, Galbraith contended he discussed but never actively promoted the idea of persuading Mr. Karzai to leave office.

Galbraith this week wrote a column seeking to defend himself.

He says, in part:

The U.N. has been scrambling to come up with an alternative explanation for my firing. At a news conference Oct. 12, Edmond Mulet, an assistant secretary general, said I was fired for proposing an unconstitutional solution to Afghanistan' s election crisis -- the very charge recycled by the Times in Thursday's story -- and darkly hinted that I had staged my firing so that I could run for political office in my home state of Vermont. When this didn't get traction, Ban Ki-moon told the British daily Independent on Nov. 4 that I was fired for wanting to disenfranchise Afghans by closing polling centers. Actually, I wanted to close the fake polling centers that produced the hundreds of thousands of phony votes that effectively disenfranchised all Afghans.


Mr. Eide is quoted in the Times as saying President Karzai was "deeply upset" about my supposed plan but fails to disclose how Mr. Karzai would have learned of this very private conversation between Mr. Eide and myself. I can only presume that Eide told him. Oddly, Kai Eide himself proposed that Karzai be replaced with an interim government in a meeting with Kabul-based diplomats in Kabul in October. The Times reporters knew this but also chose not to include it in the story.

Galbraith, meanwhile, has initiated wrongful dismissal action against the U.N.

- Terri Hallenbeck


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