“A local Authority reported that ISI and insurgents are going to buy alcoholic drinks from markets [in order to] mix them with poison and use them for poisoning” Afghan and international troops, reads the report in the Wikileaks trove.
Media outlets including the Guardian in Britain highlighted the supposed plan as “highly implausible” and used it to caution that much of the Wikileaks’ intelligence data dump may be “low grade” and unreliable.
Experts told of the actual poisoning attempt of the American adviser say that it doesn’t change the advice to the public to take the Wikileaks reports with a big grain of salt – but it does highlight the need for professionals to sift through the Wikileaks material to give a realistic judgment on the threats.
“There’s a need for a greater examination and categorization of these 90,000 reports. I’m sure a lot of these reports are of low reliability,” says B. Raman, former head of counterintelligence for India’s spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.
Yeager says he doesn’t know who was behind the poisoning attempt. He’s glad no one got hurt, but ultimately he treats the incident lightly.
“I work internationally a lot and it’s just one of those things... It’s entertaining. You just go on,” he says with a laugh. He says at the time he thought, “Who cares I’m going home.”
Yeager served as an adviser to the Ministry of Mines during the international bidding for rights to mine Afghanistan’s Aynak copper deposit. The Chinese eventually won the $2.9 billion contract.
Before leaving in 2007, Yeager urged the Karzai administration to reexamine the bids. Two years later, he released a report criticizing the tender process, saying that the ministry did not operate transparently and that Chinese firms do not have to play by the same anti-bribery rules as American firms.