Bargaining with Pakistan 5

What did the Pakistani government, military, and intelligence service know in advance about the American plan to get Osama bin Laden?

In a speculative article, N.M.Guariglia at PajamasMedia raises many pertinent questions, and makes an impressively plausible case that they all knew such a raid was to happen. He suggests why one or two of the three powerful parties, on certain conditions, agreed to let it be carried out without interference.

Did Pakistan know about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? …

While American politicians wonder whether the Pakistanis were aware of OBL’s hideout — of course they were — al-Qaeda is currently wondering whether the Pakistanis were aware that SEAL Team 6 was on its way to kill their leader. If destroying the rest of al-Qaeda’s hierarchy is the goal, perhaps that is the more immediate question. Perhaps some in Pakistan knew of the hideout, some knew of the operation, and some knew of both. …

What happened from the time we located OBL’s courier and the Abbottabad compound in August 2010 to the night of the raid? Did we not once share this intelligence with someone in Pakistan during these nine months? During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama stated he would intervene in Pakistan to catch OBL if the Pakistanis did not act. Such a policy required waiting to see whether or not the Pakistanis would act.

We knew Abbottabad was a military town. Pakistan’s prestigious military academy is located just yards away from OBL’s compound. In fact, U.S. forces were stationed there in October 2008 (and possibly another time or two). This remarkable WikiLeaks revelation has been lost on most of the American media. One can only imagine OBL smirking from his balcony, sipping tea while observing joint U.S.-Pakistani military training. He was right under our nose — or, more precisely, we were right under his.

Why would we unnecessarily jeopardize the mission and risk a firefight with the Pakistanis without knowing for certain that we might not have to? What if the Pakistanis thought they were under attack from India? That could have sparked a nuclear exchange between the two rivals. …

Some other questions linger. Does this year’s arrest of Bali bomber Umar Patek, also caught in Abbottabad, have anything to do with anything? What about Pakistan’s arrest and eventual release of CIA agent Raymond Davis in March? For months prior to the raid, CIA operatives had a safe house in Abbottabad to spy on OBL. Who knew of this? And why are we revealing the nature of the intelligence we collected at the compound? As for the raid, what was the nature of the firefight? We were first told it was a 40-minute battle and OBL was the last to be killed. Now we are told the only resistance came from the courier living in the guest house, not OBL’s villa. We were first told OBL had a gun in hand. Now we are told he was “reaching” for a weapon. How does it take that long to reach for a weapon? What happened during the 20-25 minute blackout on the operation’s video stream? Why didn’t we take OBL’s wife with us? Why do at least two of the other three men killed during the raid seem to have been shot in the back of the head?

This suggests an execution. The two men that were shot in the back of the head were OBL’s son and another chap, and the guy shot regular-style was the courier in the guest house who engaged the SEALs with gunfire. Was it that we captured these two men but didn’t have enough room to take them with us due to the downed stealth chopper — so we killed them? Does this mean OBL was executed, as well — as his wife claims? … Wouldn’t we prefer to take OBL alive, if we could? That is, of course, unless an arrangement had been made prior to the operation whereby OBL’s death was mandatory.

In many ways, Pakistan is three countries in one. There is the civilian government, the military, and the mysterious intelligence service, the ISI. Each party is suspicious of the other, has divided loyalties within, and collaborates with one against the other … By all accounts, the two most powerful men in the country are Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, head of the Pakistani Army, and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Pasha, head of the ISI. President Zardari is subordinate to the men with the guns.

It stands to reason that at least one of these men, probably two, knew of OBL’s hideout. And at least one, probably two, knew of the U.S. operation to kill OBL. …

Lt. Gen. Pasha met with CIA Director Panetta on April 11 and Gen. David Petraeus, who is set to take over the CIA, met with Gen. Kayani on April 25.

One piece of information, if true, makes it obvious that the military expected the raid to take place:

Abbottabad residents are saying the Pakistani military secured and cordoned off the site on the night of the raid, visiting the homes of civilians and asking them to turn their lights off. …

And, almost certainly, it would have been “impossible for U.S. helicopters to fly to the compound without the knowledge of the Pakistani military”.

So, assuming the military facilitated the raid – why?

Yes, Pakistan was protecting OBL – as they have been, in some capacity, since the 1990s. But when we discovered OBL’s location — thank you Guantanamo, rendition, black sites, waterboarding, and wiretapping – we probably, and wisely, confronted the Pakistanis about it in secret

We caught the Pakistanis red-handed. And that’s when a deal was made. They said: “Okay, you got us. We will give you an hour of peace and quiet to get your man. But he must be killed.” … The Pakistanis did not want an interrogation or trial of OBL to expose their goings-on with the rest of al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and so forth. Also, this way the Saudis, the Syrians, the Iranians, and the financier network from the Gulf sheikhdoms would all be protected.

What’s in it for Pakistan? They would rather have the American people angry at them for ostensibly sheltering OBL than their own people angry at them for handing him over. We probably accept that logic. We want their nuclear weapons in secure enough hands. Had the Pakistanis openly captured OBL and handed him over to us, or had they openly participated in the raid, the rest of their jihadist clientele would have turned on them — which would have required Pakistan turning on all of them first. And Pakistan would not want that. Why not? India, India, India.

So Panetta goes on television to say if we tipped off Pakistan about the raid, they’d have tipped off OBL to escape. And walah, Pakistan’s street-cred with the jihadists is covered.

What’s in it for us? Well, we kill Osama and dump him in the ocean. That’s pretty damn good. President Obama gets his “gutsy call,” a Hollywood-style takedown of Public Enemy Number 1. He also avoids an expensive, multi-year political circus about how to interrogate, try, and execute the terrorist mastermind. Additionally, we don’t put our fist in the Pakistani hornet’s nest. …

Intriguing questions follow:

If this theory has a grain of truth to it, the remaining questions are obvious. What else did the U.S. and Pakistan agree upon? Foreign aid, “bribe billions,” was no doubt part of it. Was the release of Raymond Davis part of an agreement? Was the nature of a post-U.S. withdrawal Afghanistan part of the discussion? Was the rest of al-Qaeda’s leadership part of the deal, or was the Egyptian-wing of al-Qaeda compliant with the elimination of OBL as the foreign press is speculating? Is this the beginning of a consensus within Pakistan or the beginning of a power struggle? …

Did we kill OBL when we could have captured him? Did we want to capture him but killed him amidst the chaos of the raid? Would we truly execute a man merely to uphold our end of a bargain that brought him to us? I doubt it. And in the event of such a bargain, why wouldn’t we first agree to the terms of condition, but then instead capture OBL if we could, so as to learn everything about his support structure within Pakistan — all the while having the Pakistanis think he was dead? If we’re fooling al-Qaeda with Pakistan, why not also fool Pakistan to learn about al-Qaeda? Perhaps that is why we left OBL’s wife there — so that the Pakistanis could confirm, through her testimony, that her husband was in fact killed?

If so, that’s not a good enough reason to leave her behind – especially as she is saying that her husband was “executed”. (Rightly if he was, but Obama would fear being accused of it.) She would surely have been more useful as a source of information.

It may be that bad bargains were struck.

One thing seems certain: the military knew for years where bin Laden was living and chose not to tell the American government.

How many more “bribe millions”  – in fact, bribe billions – will go to a country that has been paid too much for too long in return for too little?

Sensitive investigations 0

These days there cannot  be many states, if any, with governments free from corruption, but some are more corrupt than others. Afghanistan looks to be among the worst. Its make-believe democratic institutions, president and parliament, and the police and the military, are oiled with corruption. Bribery and extortion characterize the politics of the country. A thousand busy Americans driven by noble intentions will not easily succeed in purifying the soul of the nation or changing the Afghan way. Even John Kerry, whose noble intentions are on display though his own soul has been tainted by fibs about his military adventures, has failed to persuade President Karzai – the fellow who literally wears a mantle of power – to play nice. And though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls Karzai to inform him loftily of her “displeasure”, he continues to do it his way. This so disheartens the well-intentioned folk pursuing the counter-corruption endeavor that they are thinking of abandoning it.

This is from the Washington Post:

A close adviser to President Hamid Karzai, arrested last month on charges of soliciting a bribe, was also under investigation for allegedly providing luxury vehicles and cash to presidential allies and over telephone contacts with Taliban insurgents, according to Afghan officials familiar with the case.

The Afghan officials also said that it had been Karzai himself who intervened to win the quick release of the aide, Mohammad Zia Salehi, even after the arrest had been personally approved by the country’s attorney general. The new account suggests that the corruption case against Salehi was wider than previously known and that Karzai acted directly to secure his aide’s release.

The intervention by Karzai came after the Afghan investigators had begun to pursue corruption cases against the aide and possibly other Karzai allies inside the presidential palace. A commission formed by Karzai after his aide was released concluded that Afghan agents who had carried out the investigation with support from U.S.-backed law enforcement units had violated Salehi’s human rights and were operating outside the constitution.

The back-and-forth revolves around the work of two American-backed Afghan task forces, one known as the Major Crimes Task Force and the other called the Sensitive Investigative Unit. It has created perhaps the most serious crisis this year in relations between Afghanistan and the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Karzai to express her displeasure with any decision that undermines anti-corruption enforcement, and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) flew to Kabul this week with a warning to Karzai that his actions put at risk U.S. funding and congressional support for the war. …

Salehi is a Pashtun from Wardak province who heads the administration of Afghanistan’s National Security Council. Salehi has played a key role in support of Karzai’s efforts to win reconciliation with Taliban insurgents and end the war in Afghanistan. The current and former Afghan officials said he had spoken regularly by cellphone with Taliban representatives and had arranged meetings between the Karzai administration and members of the Taliban …

The Afghan officials said that the investigation had determined that Salehi had also been involved with making cash payments from a palace fund to pay off Karzai’s political supporters, and distributed gifts such as armored Land Cruisers and luxury Lexuses.

“He was one of the most trusted staff members in the palace to do special things,” said one Afghan official with direct knowledge of the case. …

One of the special things he did was to accept a bribe not to investigate bribery:

Wiretapped conversations had also produced evidence that Salehi had accepted gifts, including a car provided to his son, in return for playing a role in opposing a corruption investigation aimed at New Ansari, the nation’s largest money-transfer business, which was raided by investigators in January. “The talk on the intercepts was pretty clear that this car was intended to get Salehi to interfere with the investigation,” said a senior U.S. official who worked with Afghan anti-corruption teams. The American official said the evidence had been presented to Afghanistan’s attorney general, Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, who signed an arrest warrant for Salehi and instructed the Major Crimes Task Force, an Afghan police unit mentored by the FBI, to execute the arrest. …

On July 25 … Salehi was taken to a counternarcotics detention center in Kabul.

By 6 p.m. the same day, however, police with the Major Crimes Task Force received a second letter from Aloko, the attorney general, ordering Salehi’s release.

An Afghan official with direct knowledge of the case said that Aloko had come under “enormous pressure” from Karzai to set Salehi free. A second Afghan official with direct knowledge of the events said that Aloko “received an order from the president” that Salehi be released. …

According to the Afghan officials, corruption investigators now say they fear for the safety of their families and do not believe it is possible to convict those close to the president. They do not expect Salehi to be indicted. Some believe the two elite task forces will be disbanded.

That would be a blow to General Petraeus. Apparently he’s pinned his hopes on them, believing that the country could be “restored” to stability if only the corruption could be got rid of.

Gen. David H. Petraeus the new American commander, has made clear that he sees the effort as central to restoring stability to the country.

So the story of Salehi is not encouraging to those who still believe there is something to be won in Afghanistan. To others it bears a message of despair.

No victory or something like that 0

Just when a discovery of vast mineral wealth provides at last a good reason for America to win the war in Afghanistan – and not just win but conquer , and not just conquer but even better colonize the country, though that of course is a notion that will never even be considered – the lefty establishment so feebly in charge is despairing of winning even a few battles against the barefoot militia of  primitive Taliban terrorists. Of course the magnificent American military could win easily, but not if their commanders don’t give the right orders, and tie the hands of their soldiers with crazy rules of engagement, and force their fighters to act as social workers, and make them uncertain about the worth of the campaign by giving the enemy a date when they’ll be withdrawn.

That’s what Gates and (laugh out loud) Commander-in-Chief Obama are doing to them, and it’s enough to make a good commander, like General Petraeus, faint! (Which he did while declaring that he supported the announced date of withdrawal.)

The Washington Times reports on the subdued despair spreading through the Pentagon:

A series of political and military setbacks in Afghanistan has fed anxiety over the war effort in the past few weeks, shaking supporters of President Obama’s counterinsurgency strategy and confirming the pessimism of those who had doubts about it from the start.

The concerns, fed largely by unease over military operations in southern Afghanistan that are progressing slower than anticipated, spurred lawmakers to schedule last-minute hearings this week to assess progress on the battlefield and within the Afghan government. …

Strong Taliban resistance and lagging Afghan government participation have slowed progress in Marja, a district at the center of the Helmand campaign, creating the image that things have not been going as well as anticipated.

That image was compounded last week when Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the military operations in Kandahar would not begin in force until September. …

In public statements last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sought to tamp down expectations that results would be definitive by December.

“We are going to have to show by the end of the year that our strategy is on the right track and making some headway,” Gates said. “I don’t think anyone has any illusions that we’ll be done or that there will be big victories or something like that. ..

Others are [even] more doubtful. “It’s clear the Marja operation did not go as smoothly as expected,” said Frederick Jones, spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). Kerry, he added, “is concerned that the Taliban is reestablishing itself there.”

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who has traveled to Afghanistan, said he was “decidedly dubious” of the Obama administration’s war strategy from the start. “I’m trying to see how a year from now we’ll be in any better position than we are today. It’s difficult for me to see a way out here.” …

Even within the military, there are concerns, and “I sense the same division of opinion,” said Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations… “Some folks are very worried that the picture in December is going to look like it’s not worth the price,” said Biddle, a defense expert who was part of a planning group recruited by McChrystal last year to help formulate a new war strategy.

Note to some of our critics: When there is a blue line down the side of indented paragraphs, it means that we are quoting – whether to agree, criticize, or oppose, we state in our own comments.

A state condemned 3

“Condemn” is a very strong word in diplomat-speak. It’s the word most American presidents would apply only to the activities and policies of hostile and extremely delinquent states.

Obama is applying it to Israel.

What has Israel done that is very wrong? Let’s see.

Not long ago it reluctantly agreed under American pressure to suspend building new houses for Jewish occupants on the West Bank, but expressly excluded Jerusalem from the agreement, and the exclusion was accepted by Obama’s State Department.

So when it announced recently that planning permission has been given for some additional apartments in an area to the north of Israel’s capital city, Israel did not expect an objection to be suddenly raised. The development, begun a dozen years ago, does not and will not encroach on any Arab neighborhood. Nobody has objected to it before. The ground had not previously been in use for housing or anything else. Some 18,000 Jews live there now with families growing up. There are normal needs for expansion of accomodation.

But because the piece of wasteland was taken in a war waged against Israel in 1948, and held until 1967 by the British-created state of Jordan, Obama wants it to be rid of its Jewish residents and kept in reserve to be “returned” to Arab possession when there is a state of Palestine.

So the routine announcement that long-planned building in that part of Jerusalem will go ahead has been taken by Obama to be such an insult “to America” that Israel must be condemned for it. The result is a crisis of relations between the two countries.

We contend that the announcement was a handy excuse; that the crisis was engineered; that any pretext would have done.

But what is it Obama needs a pretext for?

Caroline Glick’s answer is this:

Why has President Barak Obama decided to foment a crisis in US relations with Israel? …

Obama’s new demands follow the months of American pressure that eventually coerced Netanyahu into announcing both his support for a Palestinian state and a 10-month ban on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. No previous Israeli government had ever been asked to make the latter concession.

Netanyahu was led to believe that in return for these concessions Obama would begin behaving like the credible mediator his predecessors were. But instead of acting like his predecessors, Obama has behaved like the Palestinians. Rather than reward Netanyahu for taking a risk for peace, Obama has, in the model of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, pocketed Netanyahu’s concessions and escalated his demands. This is not the behavior of a mediator. This is the behavior of an adversary. …

Obama’s assault on Israel is likely related to the failure of his Iran policy. Over the past week, senior administration officials including Gen. David Petraeus have made viciously defamatory attacks on Israel, insinuating that the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem is a primary cause for bad behavior on the part of Iran and its proxies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. By this line of thinking, if Israel simply returned to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, Iran’s centrifuges would stop spinning, and Syria, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would all beat their swords into plowshares. …

Even more important than its usefulness as a tool to divert the public’s attention away from the failure of his Iran policy, Obama’s assault against Israel may well be aimed at maintaining that failed policy. Specifically, he may be attacking Israel in a bid to coerce Netanyahu into agreeing to give Obama veto power over any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. That is, the anti-Israel campaign may be a means to force Israel to stand by as Obama allows Iran to build a nuclear arsenal. …

Obama … seeks to realign US foreign policy away from Israel. Obama’s constant attempts to cultivate relations with Iran’s unelected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad’s Arab lackey Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan make clear that he views developing US relations with these anti-American regimes as a primary foreign policy goal. …

[And] he  is using his manufactured crisis to justify adopting an overtly anti-Israel position vis-à-vis the Palestinians. …

Likewise, the crisis Obama has manufactured with Israel could pave the way for him to recognize a Palestinian state if the Palestinians follow through on their threat to unilaterally declare statehood next year regardless of the status of negotiations with Israel. Such a US move could in turn lead to the deployment of US forces in Judea and Samaria to “protect” the unilaterally declared Palestinian state from Israel.

General Petraeus has even suggested putting the “Palestinian territories” under his central command.

We don’t believe the Palestinians’ threat. If they declare a state they’ll need to declare its boundaries, and if the boundaries do not embrace the entire state of Israel plus Gaza plus Judaea and Samaria, they’ll  be acknowledging the right of Israel to exist. Borders have two sides. “This side  the State of Palestine; that side the State of Israel”. The pretence of their now being willing to settle for a “two-state solution”  – when they’ve been rejecting such a thing for more than six decades – would instantly be exposed as the lie it is.

But Obama wants there to be a Palestinian state. And if it cannot, because it will not, be a second state in the region, will he then insist that it should be the only state?

We see no reason why there should be a 22nd Arab state.

We see no reason why the 21 existing Arab states shouldn’t assimilate the refugees of the Palestine region just as Israel assimilated the Jews who were expelled by the Arab states in 1948.

We see no reason why Jews shouldn’t live in Arab/Muslim countries just as Arabs/Muslims live in Israel, with full voting and property-owning rights, paying the same taxes, protected by the same laws equally.

We would be happy to see only one state in the region – the State of Israel, not Palestine.

But Obama, and the huge bloc of Islamic countries, and Europe, and Russia, have a vision of a 22-state Arab judenrein Middle East.

If America withdraws diplomatic support, as it is likely to do now; if Iran, bent on destroying Israel, is soon to be nuclear armed with Obama’s consent; and if, in addition, American forces are to be sent to the West Bank to aid Palestinian forces against their Israeli enemy as has been proposed, how good is Israel’s chance of surviving?

When in doubt, worry 0

Politico reports these words of General Petraeus talking about Iran:

On the one hand there are countries that would like to see a strike – perhaps Israeli.

There’s the worry that someone will strike.

And then there’s the worry that someone won’t strike.

We only wonder what’s holding Israel back.

Posted under Commentary, Iran, Israel by Jillian Becker on Monday, March 8, 2010

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A surge of restraint 0

Again it is Diana West who says what needs to be said about the war in Afghanistan.

From the Washington Examiner:

Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s long-awaited testimony before Congress on the Afghanistan “surge” was, according to one account, “uneventful.” The general himself, another story noted, was “a study in circumspection.” And questioning from lawmakers was, said a third, “gentle.”

“Ineffectual” is more like it. Throw in “callous,” too, given House members’ obligations to constituents in the war zone, operating under what are surely the most restrictive rules of engagement in U.S. history.

But not a single lawmaker appears to have ventured one question about these dangerously disarming ROEs, which, in McChrystal’s controversial view, are key to the success of his “counterinsurgency” strategy. What kind of a commander puts his forces’ lives at increased risk for a historically unsuccessful theory that depends not on winning battles against enemies, but on winning the “trust,” or, as we used to say (and as Gen. David Petraeus put it in Iraq), the “hearts and minds” of a primitive people immersed in the anti-Western traditions of Islam?

That would have made a nice icebreaker of a question for any lawmaker troubled by the Petraeus-McChrystal policy of elevating Afghan “population protection” over U.S. “force protection” to win “the support” of this 99 percent Islamic country, and the rules that American forces must follow to do so. If, that is, there were any lawmakers so troubled.

Things really tightened up back in July, when McChrystal essentially grounded air support for troops except in dire circumstances. … The McChrystal counterinsurgency rules now include: No night searches. Villagers must be warned before searches. Afghan National Army or Afghan police must accompany U.S. units on searches. Searches must account, according to International Security Assistance Force headquarters, “for the unique cultural sensitivities toward local women.” (“Islamic repressiveness” is more accurate, but that’s another story.) U.S. soldiers may not fire on the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first. U.S. forces may not engage the enemy if civilians are present. U.S. forces may fire at an enemy caught in the act of placing an improvised explosive device, but not walking away from IED area. And on it goes.

Here’s another ROE that McChrystal should have been asked to justify to all Americans who hope to see their loved ones return home in one piece. The London Times recently reported that Marines, about to embark on a dangerous supply mission, were shown a PowerPoint presentation that first illustrated locations of IEDs along the way and then warned the Marines “not to fire indiscriminately even if they were fired on.”

The Times story went on to note: “The briefing ended with a projected screen of McChrystal’s quote: “It’s not how many you kill, it’s how many you convince.”

Another question: How many you convince of what, general? Of the depravity of child marriage? Of the injustice of Shariah laws that subjugate women and non-Muslims? Of the inhumanity of jihad?

Of course not. In an oblique reference that likely took in Islam, McChrystal told Congress: “I think it’s very important that from an overall point of view, we understand how Afghan culture must define itself, and we be limited in our desire to change the fundamentals of it.”

Fine. I don’t want to change Afghan culture, either. But acknowledging its roots in an ideology that is anti-Western is crucial to devising strategy for the region. That’s obvious. But not to any of our leaders.

Final question: Are such leaders, civilian and military, doing their duty when they send the nation to war with a strategy that totally ignores jihad, the war doctrine of the enemy?

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, December 13, 2009

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