Gen. Jim Jones Awkward Joke On Air Force One

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I have a new story up that recounts an awkward moment on Air Force One on the secret trip over to Afghanistan. National Security Advisor James Jones was asked when Karzai had been told that the president was coming. Since the White House never sent out a transcript of the exchange, I have produced one below. It took place about an hour or so before we landed in Afghanistan.

REPORTER: When did Karzai learn that the president was coming?

JAMES JONES: That the president was coming?

ROBERT GIBBS: [Repeating question] When did Karzai learn that the president was coming?

JONES: I think, probably, right about now. [Laughter around the table.]

GIBBS: No no no. . . Yeah, we will pull the specifics. I don’t. . .

[Deputy National Security Advisor] DOUGLAS LUTE: Last couple days. . .

JONES: We’ll have to ask Ambassador Eikenberry, I think. I don’t know the answer to that.

GIBBS: Thanks guys.

Once President Obama arrived at the presidential palace in Kabul, Gibbs told the press that the Karzai government had been informed on Thursday, three days before Obama arrived. But Jones’ joke about the lack of trust between the White House and Karzai remained on the record.

To read my entire story on the delicate relationship between the White House and Karzai, click here. Also as Adam notes below, read Dexter Filkins and Mark Landler’s account of the relationship in today’s New York Times.