You have to get up pretty early in the morning to slip one past our “intelligence” agencies. In a startling revelation, it turns out Pakistan’s version of the CIA, the ISI, may have known of Osama bin-Laden’s whereabouts all along and was, hold on to your seats, protecting him. Brilliant detective work, Columbo:
“The cellphone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, senior American officials who have been briefed on the findings say.
The discovery indicates that Bin Laden used the group, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, as part of his support network inside the country, the officials and others said. But it also raised tantalizing questions about whether the group and others like it helped shelter and support Bin Laden on behalf of Pakistan’s spy agency, given that it had mentored Harakat and allowed it to operate in Pakistan for at least 20 years, the officials and analysts said.
But the cellphone numbers provide one of the most intriguing leads yet in the hunt for the answer to an urgent and vexing question for Washington: How was it that Bin Laden was able to live comfortably for years in Abbottabad, a town dominated by the Pakistani military and only a three-hour drive from Islamabad, the capital?”
“The Obama administration is expressing alarm over reports that thousands of political separatists and captured Taliban insurgents have disappeared into the hands of Pakistan’s police and security forces, and that some may have been tortured or killed.
The concern is over a steady stream of accounts from human rights groups that Pakistan’s security services have rounded up thousands of people over the past decade, mainly in Baluchistan, a vast and restive province far from the fight with the Taliban, and are holding them incommunicado without charges.”
Welcome to the Hotel Gitmo. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
“Separately, the report also described concerns that the Pakistani military had killed unarmed members of the Taliban, rather than put them on trial.
…Two months ago, the United States took the unusual step of refusing to train or equip about a half-dozen Pakistani Army units that are believed to have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent offensives against the Taliban. The most recent State Department report contains some of the administration’s most pointed language about accusations of such so-called extrajudicial killings.”
“From the moment he stepped foot inside the White House, Obama set about expanding and escalating a covert CIA program of “targeted killings” inside Pakistan, using Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles..that had been started by the Bush administration in 2004.
On 23 January 2009, just three days after being sworn in, Obama ordered his first set of air strikes inside Pakistan; one is said to have killed four Arab fighters linked to al-Qaida but the other hit the house of a pro-government tribal leader, killing him and four members of his family, including a five-year-old child.
…During his first nine months in office he authorised as many aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W Bush did in his final three years in the job…According to the New America Foundation thinktank in Washington DC, the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan more than doubled in 2010, to 115. That is an astonishing rate of around one bombing every three days inside a country with which the US is not at war.”
“The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected a request from prosecutors in Warsaw for assistance in the investigation into the alleged CIA prisons in Poland, where captives claim they were tortured. On 18 March, the Prosecutor’s Office of Appeal in Warsaw filed a motion for legal assistance from the US Department of Justice into the probe…[T]he US informed prosecutors that the motion had been rejected on the basis of the international Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and that the U.S. authorities consider the matter “to be closed”.
So far, the U.S. Justice Department has failed to comply with its treaty obligations to supply information requested by prosecutors in Spain, Germany, Italy, and Poland who are probing allegations of kidnapping, false arrest, assault, and torture by persons believed to be CIA agents in connection with extraordinary rendition operations.”
This has, by far, been my biggest disappointment with the current administration. Legislative policies are one thing-legislation can be amended, superseded, or repealed. But by continuing, and in some cases expanding upon, the Bush administration “war on terror” tactics, and pursuing this “look forward, not back” lunacy, it has now become the accepted and established policy of two successive administrations—one Republican and one Democratic–that the United States of America now condones actions (indefinite detention without charges, denial of due process) that were once upon a time (pre-9/11) considered a violation of our Bill of Rights.
It also lets other countries that enter into treaties with us know that we will abide by the conditions of those treaties only so far as it is convenient and politically expedient for us to do so, and denies us any credibility on the world stage when it comes to the condemnation of other country’s human rights violations.
In short, we prove to the world that America is a nation of preachers and not practicers.
“Pakistan’s remote tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan are in a state of virtual panic tonight as US drones continue to loom in the air and three attacks against separate towns across the region killed at least 28 people and wounded an unknown number of others.
Officials have so far failed to identify any of the targets of the attacks, but reports from the ground suggest that one of the US drones attacked a funeral procession that was carried out for people killed in a previous attack.
Reports suggested that the targets hit were related to one of the militant factions which has an existing cease-fire with the Pakistani government, and it does not appear that any of the victims of the attacks were “high value” targets.”
CIA Director Leon Panetta appeared on ABC’s This Week yesterday, where he laid out some of the “problems” we face in Afghanistan along with our “fundamental purpose” there and what “winning” might look like. From Think Progress:
Too bad most, if not all, of what Panetta describes is not based in reality.
“There are some serious problems here. We’re dealing with a tribal society. We’re dealing with a country that has problems with governance, problems with corruption, problems with narcotics trafficking, problems with a Taliban insurgency.”
We’re dealing with a country that isn’t a country. Afghanistan combat veteran Wes Moore was on Meet the Press yesterday where he gave this account:
“…one of the things we did–I was with a team in Afghanistan, you go out and you give out gifts to people. And one of the things that we would, we would give out to some of the tribal leaders were cutout–were maps, which were cutouts of Afghanistan. And literally, the most popular question was, “What is this?” And we’d say, “It’s your country.”
“In recent months…Afghan prosecutors and investigators have been ordered to cross names off case files, prevent senior officials from being placed under arrest and disregard evidence against executives of a major financial firm suspected of helping the nation’s elite move millions of dollars overseas.
Afghanistan is awash in international aid and regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Indeed, even as the United States and its allies pour money in, U.S. officials estimate that as much as $1 billion a year is flowing out as part of a massive cash exodus.
The money, as first reported in The Washington Post in February, is often carried out in full view of customs officials at Kabul’s airport, where such transfers are legal as long as they are declared. Officials suspect much of the cash is going to the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai, where elite Afghans, including Karzai’s older brother, have villas.”
How do we on the one hand acknowledge that government corruption is a major problem while we continue to prop up the government and the president that is hip-deep in corruption?
Back to Panetta: “But I think the fundamental key, the key to success or failure is whether the Afghans accept responsibility, are able to deploy an effective army and police force to maintain stability. If they can do that, then I think we’re going to be able to achieve the kind of progress and the kind of stability that the president is after…it is going to take the Afghan army and police to be able to accept the responsibility that we pass on to them. That’s going to be the key. ”
The size of the Afghan security forces our generals say are needed to provide that stability, about 450.000, would cost about $3 billion a year to maintain. The annual budget of Afghanistan is $600 million. They can’t do it. Care to guess who will be expected to pick up the tab?
Panetta’s definition of “winning”:
“Winning in Afghanistan is having a country that is stable enough to ensure that there is no safe haven for Al Qaida or for a militant Taliban that welcomes Al Qaida…Our purpose, our whole mission there is to make sure that Al Qaida never finds another safe haven from which to attack this country. That’s the fundamental goal of why the United States is there.”
Earlier in the interview Panetta admitted that there are only 50 to 100 members of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, “maybe less.”
“So 1,000 US troops per al Qaeda member, at a cost of $1 million each. That’s $1 billion a year we spend for each al Qaeda member to fight our war in Afghanistan.
This sort of adds a new twist to that old Einstein quip about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Because we’re doing the same thing over and over again–at a cost of $1 billion a year per nominal opponent–and expecting anything other than bankruptcy.”
“…a nearly inviolable rule governs this arena: Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation unless its people and its leaders all are asking for it. Otherwise the nation’s oligarchy will fight to restore the old order of things, to protect their positions and perquisites. It happens every time.”
“The fragile Pakistani government of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and President Asaf Ali Zardari was deeply embarrassed Wednesday when a massive bombing killed three U.S. soldiers on the ground in that country. The Pakistani public has been increasingly upset about U.S. military and paramilitary (Blackwater/Xe) actions in their country. On Tuesday, several U.S. drone strikes killed a total of 29 persons. The controversy over whether the U.S. is actually fighting a third war, in Pakistan, may have been settled by the troop deaths.
…The bombing differs little from numerous other such attacks in the frontier badlands, but is distinctive because it accidentally revealed that some 200 U.S. troops are on the ground in Pakistan, some 60-100 on a training mission. Those killed had been giving training and support to the Frontier Corps, a Pakistani unit charged with policing the lawless Pashtun areas on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
Come on mothers throughout the land,
Send your boys off to Pakistan (or Yemen, or Somalia, or Detroit, or Cleveland, or…..)
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
Send your sons off before it’s too late,
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.