RESIDUAL FORCE UPDATE….Does Barack Obama secretly want to keep 60-80,000 troops in Iraq through 2010? That’s what Colin Kahl, a “key adviser,” recommends in an academic paper circulated privately at a recent workshop — “a plan,” says reporter Eli Lake, “at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.” But Marc Lynch, who was also at the workshop, calls foul:

Let’s just reflect on the absurdity of all of this….Maybe a few dozen people even knew that Kahl had a role at all in the Obama campaign. This is “gotcha” reduced to absurdity. The paper in question was clearly an academic one, reflecting [Kahl’s] own personal views. It wasn’t even circulated to the campaign, and has nothing to do with Obama’s “real” views on Iraq.

Point taken. Presidential advisors have lots of different views — and should have lots of different views. It’s newsworthy what these views are, but nobody should jump to the conclusion that any one of them is controlling unless there’s some good reason to think so. And anyway, Marc has other fish to fry:

The only really interesting question here is who in that small, closed workshop organized by Colin Kahl decided to screw his host by violating the non-attribution agreement and handing the paper over to Eli Lake? I was there, y’know. I know who was there. By my count, there’s about three suspects… and one of them convincingly protests his innocence. I’ve got an inkling about which of the other two it is. Care to fess up?

Good luck with that!