David Ignatius reveals this morning that US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter has fought hard and ultimately failed to maintain ultimate 'country authority' over the CIA's drone attacks inside Pakistan.
As America's relationship with Pakistan has unraveled over the past 18 months, an important debate has been going on within the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad over the proper scope of CIA covert actions and their effect on diplomatic interests.
The principals in this policy debate have been Cameron Munter, the U.S. ambassador since October 2010, and several CIA station chiefs who served with him. The technical issue was whether the ambassador, as chief of mission, had the authority to veto CIA operations he thought would harm long-term relations. Munter appears to have lost this fight.
Munter is no ordinary campaign-contributing pal of Barack Obama and didn't buy his perch in Islamabad like so many other US Ambassadors.
Munter is one of the few career foreign service officers who has stacked up respect not only from his State Department colleagues -- but across other agencies and departments, particularly the Department of Defense for his pivotal work in securing Congressional approval of NATO expansion during the Clinton administration, and from the various intelligence agencies for his 'smart power approach' to trying to simultaneously win the hearts and minds of citizens in Pakistan while also understanding that some targets require deployed hard power.