Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Straight Talk By Gates on Pakistan

"Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done."

That was Defense Secretary Robert Gates' straight talk in response to the phony outrage by Senator Patrick Leahy on the news of Pakistan arresting 5 CIA informants following Osama bin Laden's killing by US Navy Seals in Abbotabad.

Here is the text of the exchange between Gates and Leahy during the US Senate hearing on Pakistan that began with Leahy asking Gates how long the U.S. will be willing to "support governments that lie to us?"

GATES: Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.

LEAHY: Do they also arrest the people that help us when they say they're allies?

GATES: Sometimes.

LEAHY: Not often.

GATES: And -- and sometimes they send people to spy on us, and they're our close allies. So...

LEAHY: And we give aid to them.

GATES: ... that's the real world that we deal with.

Outgoing Secretary Gates is clearly not a politician. He does not share the basic consensus among mainstream US politicians and media about American exceptionalism which gives them a broad license to criticize and denigrate others for some of the same or worse transgressions(or accomplishments) that the Americans are themselves guilty (or proud) of.

Another instance of plain talk by an American leader is the one where former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is reported to have said:

"There is only one thing more dangerous than being America's enemy; it's being an American ally".

With the recent series of extraordinary humiliations inflicted by Obama administration on their Pakistani allies, I think the current Pakistani leadership can wholeheartedly attest to Dr. Kissinger's enduring assertion.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Military Mutiny in Pakistan?

Twitter Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistan's Tax Evasion Fosters Foreign Aid Dependence

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

Daily Carnage Amidst Intelligence Failures in Pakistan

Can US Aid Remake Pakistan?

ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?


Sgt. Catskill, El Segundo said...

Please make no mistake and think Pakistan is doing a good job. It is both a supporter and enemy of militants - it will support militants who cause mayhem in Afghanistan, India and elsewhere while fighting them inside Pakistan. The root and the trunk of miltancy is based in Pakistan while the branches grow all over!

Ashraf said...

Yabbut governments, and nations, don't take kindly to people spying for another country—even if it is your closest ally: take the case of Jonathan Pollard, for example

farahshah said...

I think that America do not consider Pakistan amongest its Allies because according to the present situation,it does'nt seems that it is helping Pakistan........

Roland said...

Pakistan’s army chief, the most powerful man in the country, is fighting to save his position in the face of seething anger from top generals and junior officers since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to Pakistani officials and people who have met the chief in recent weeks.
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who has led the army since 2007, faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cozy relationship with the United States that a colonels’ coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question, said a well-informed Pakistani who has seen the general in recent weeks, as well as an American military official involved with Pakistan for many years.
The Pakistani Army is essentially run by consensus among 11 top commanders, known as the Corps Commanders, and almost all of them, if not all, were demanding that General Kayani get much tougher with the Americans, even edging toward a break, Pakistanis who follow the army closely said.

Read More:

asadi said...

GATES: you are being treasonous, I have to support my own government. Do you not recall, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinski.", "Iraq has WMD, we know where they are, they are in the north, the south, east and west." "We killed Osama Bin Laden", "Raymond Davis is a diplomat with full diplomatic immunity." "Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK"....

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani defended his nation's decision to detain five informants who aided the CIA in tracking down Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on ABC This Week:

"Pakistan has rounded up more than 30 people as part of the investigation about the Osama bin Laden compound," Haqqani said. "As far as the concern that there are people amongst the people that we have rounded up who are informants for the CIA, we will deal with them as we would deal with a friendly intelligence service, and we will resolve this to the satisfaction of our friends, as well as to our own laws."

Haqqani said the government took such action to get a better grasp of the operation's details.

"No one has been punished," Haqqani said. "Basically this is an exercise in trying to find out what has happened."

The Pakistani Ambassador maintained that Pakistani intelligence aided in the capture and killing of bin Laden, and assured that both the U.S. and Pakistani militaries are making the capture of the newly-named head of al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawihiri a top priority.

"The U.S side and Pakistan are working together on any information that any side has," Haqqani said. "Whatever we do, we will do jointly."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Indian analyst MK Bhadrakumar on the CIA penetration and military mutiny in Pakistan:

...The NYT report today is unprecedented. The report quotes US officials not less than 7 times, which is extraordinary, including “an American military official involved with Pakistan for many years”; “a senior American official”, etc. The dispatch is cleverly drafted to convey the impression that a number of Pakistanis have been spoken to, but reading between the lines, conceivably, these could also probably have been indirect attribution by the American sources. A careful reading, in fact, suggests that the dispatch is almost entirely based on deep briefing by some top US intelligence official with great access to records relating to the most highly sensitive US interactions with the Pak army leadership and who was briefing on the basis of instructions from the highest level of the US intelligence apparatus.

The report no doubt underscores that the US intelligence penetration of the Pak defence forces goes very deep. It is no joke to get a Pakistani officer taking part in an exclusive briefing by Kayani at the National Defence University to share his notes with the US interlocutors - unless he is their “mole”. This is like a morality play for we Indians, too, where the US intelligence penetration is ever broadening and deepening. Quite obviously, the birds are coming to roost. Pakistani military is paying the price for the big access it provided to the US to interact with its officer corps within the framework of their so-called “strategic partnership”. The Americans are now literally holding the Pakistani army by its jugular veins. This should serve as a big warning for all militaries of developing countries like India (which is also developing intensive “mil-to-mil” ties with the US). In our country at least, it is even terribly unfashionable to speak anymore of CIA activities. The NYT story flags in no uncertain terms that although Cold War is over, history has not ended.

What are the objectives behind the NYT story? In sum, any whichever way we look at it, they all are highly diabolic. One, US is rubbishing army chief Parvez Kayani and ISI head Shuja Pasha who at one time were its own blue-eyed boys and whose successful careers and post-retirement extensions in service the Americans carefully choreographed fostered with a pliant civilian leadership in Islamabad, but now when the crunch time comes, the folks are not “delivering”. In American culture, as they say, there is nothing like free lunch. The Americans are livid that their hefty “investment” has turned out to be a waste in every sense. And. it was a very painstakingly arranged investment, too. In short, the Americans finally realise that they might have made a miscalculation about Kayani when they promoted his career.
The instability in the region may suit the US’ geo-strategy for consolidating its (and NATO’s) military presence in the region but it will be a highly self-centred, almost cynical, perspective to take on the problem, which has dangerous, almost explosive, potential for regional security. Also, who it is that is in charge of the Pakistan policy in Washington today, we do not know. To my mind, Obama administration doesn’t have a clue since Richard Holbrooke passed away as to how to handle Pakistan. The disturbing news in recent weeks has been that all the old “Pakistan hands” in the USG have left the Obama administration. It seems there has been a steady exodus of officials who knew and understood how Pakistan works, and the depletion is almost one hundred percent. That leaves an open field for the CIA to set the policies.

Riaz Haq said...

A senior officer serving in Pakistan's army has been detained for alleged contacts with a banned militant group, according to the BBC:

Pakistan's military spokesman confirmed to the BBC that Brigadier Ali Khan was being interrogated by the country's military intelligence unit.

Pakistan has banned a number of groups in recent years for supporting militancy and encouraging extremism.

Brig Ali, who is based at military headquarters, was held last month and his family told he would be home soon.

"Yes, that's correct that he is under detention and an investigation is in progress for his contacts with a proscribed organisation," Maj Gen Athar Abbas told BBC Urdu's Asif Farooqi.

He did not provide any more details about the nature of the alleged contact or the organisation the brigadier is accused of being in touch with.

"Any more details at this point in time may affect our investigation process," Gen Abbas said.
This is not the first time allegations have been made about links between elements in Pakistan's military and banned organisations, including militant groups.

At least two army officers were court martialled last year for links with the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir group.

In 2004 several low-ranking military personnel were convicted in connection with attempts on the life of former President Pervez Musharraf.

Last week, Pakistan's military denied that a major was among several people who had been detained accused of being CIA informants and passing on information which helped the US track down and kill al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times analysis of the Obama speech on US troop reductions in Afghanistan:

... “What the Abbottabad raid demonstrated more vividly than ever is that we need a base to strike targets in Pakistan, and the geography is simple: You need to do that from Afghanistan,” said Bruce Reidel, a retired C.I.A. officer who conducted Mr. Obama’s first review of strategy in the region.
Their first is to assure that Afghanistan never again becomes a launching pad for attacks on the United States. But the more urgent reason is Pakistan. In his speech, Mr. Obama invited Pakistan to expand its peaceful cooperation in the region, but also noted that Pakistan must live up to its commitments and that “the U.S. will never tolerate a tolerate a safe haven for those who would destroy us.”

Pakistan has already made it clear, however, that it will never allow American forces to be based there. As relations have turned more hostile with the United States in recent months, it has refused to issue visas to large numbers of C.I.A. officers, and seems to be moving quickly to close the American drone base in Shamsi, Pakistan.

For their part, administration officials make it clearer than ever that they view Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist groups as the more urgent problem. “We don’t see a transnational threat coming out of Afghanistan,” a senior administration official briefing reporters before the president’s speech said Wednesday. Later he added, “The threat has come from Pakistan.”

Those realities have placed increasing pressure on Obama administration officials to secure some long-term success from the long war in Afghanistan. That is by no means guaranteed. As the bulk of international forces leave, the country may yet descend into civil war and chaos.

Indeed, several senior administration officials acknowledged in recent days that the announcement by Mr. Obama merely put the best face possible on three-year plan to retreat from what was once a expansive experiment in nation-building.

The key goal now will be a diminished one — a counterterrorism mission to finish off Al Qaeda — that is far closer to the mission that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and some political aides at the White House argued for 18 months ago. With Wednesday’s announcement, President Obama indicated that he has slowly inched toward that view as well.

“The hard part over the next few years will be proving to the Afghans that there is something in this for them,” Mr. Reidel said.

That is particularly difficult because what the Afghans may well draw from Mr. Obama’s prime-time speech is that the Americans are leaving again — just as they did after the Soviet Union gave up its war in 1989 — but this time more slowly.

Over the past decade, the Afghans heard many promises from Washington. Months after ordering the invasion that drove out the Taliban government, President George W. Bush declared that the United States would initiate a new Marshall Plan for Afghanistan; it never fully materialized.

In 2009 Mr. Obama spoke of a “civilian surge” of “agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers” who would train Afghans how to create a modern country. The results have been limited, and in Wednesday night’s speech, Mr. Obama never mentioned those goals.

Administration officials insist that those efforts will continue, despite the drawdown. Even after all the “surge” forces return home, there will still be 68,000 American troops on the ground next year — more than twice the number that were in Afghanistan the day Mr. Obama took office.

But over time, the counterterrorism mission will require fewer troops in the region, administration officials said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting LA Times Op Ed on Obama's Afghan troop-reduction speech before it was delivered:

Here's some important new information that President Obama should certainly leave out of his big Afghanistan speech Wednesday evening:

Only 12% of people in our most important regional ally, Pakistan, now have a positive view of the United States. And only 8% express confidence in the American leader to do the right thing, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

This could have something to do with deadly U.S. drone raids on Pakistan and the assassination of Osama bin Laden there in a commando incursion; a whopping 14% of Pakistanis think the latter was a good thing.
Obama's latest speech will be directed solely at Americans, who have begun registering impatience with the war, especially since Obama joined another one in Libya in March that he said would last days, not weeks, and has now gone on for months.

The president is in a mess of his own making. He built his initial national political persona on opposition to Bush's Iraq war because, the former U.S. senator argued, it distracted America from the far more important conflict against Al Qaeda, the Taliban and terrorism in Afghanistan, which was the haven for Al Qaeda's 9/11 training.

Bush's Iraq surge worked, however, enabling Obama to proclaim victory and transfer those troops. This, in turn, enabled Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate who wanted to slice Iraq into three parts, to go on cable TV and with no sense of irony call Iraq one of Obama's "great achievements."

That left the Afghanistan war, 10 years old this fall, where Al Qaeda forces were making gains against the invisible central government. When Obama became commander-in-chief, the United States had 32,000 troops there. Today it has 100,000.

Since 2001, 1,632 Americans have died there, 696 of them (43%) during the 882 days of Obama's presidency.

At West Point in his Afghanistan surge speech, sending in 30,000 more pairs of U.S. boots, Obama spoke 4,582 words. He said "Al Qaeda" 22 times and "Taliban" 12 times. He said the word "victory" zero times.
Wow, is it almost July 2011 already? So, Wednesday night Obama will announce how many American troops will start leaving in 10 days. Key word there: Start. Technically, one planeload would be a start.

Initial word was 5,000, possibly in the first month. Sinking poll numbers for both Obama and the war, however, suggest the president will go higher, much higher. Strategic leaks by aides this week say the drawdown could be as large as 33,000 by election day next year. Something that size would likely disconcert allies.

But that is a politically tidy total exactly equal to the last inbound surge. It's also larger than some military experts believe is wise, if you don't want to discard a developing win given what Gen. David Petraeus has called the "fragile" progress there.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday the president had to factor growing public and congressional war fatigue into his drawdown decision. Speaking of war, Gates reportedly opposed the attack on Libya. Perhaps now the tight-lipped loyalist to a Republican and a Democratic president also thinks the size of withdrawal is excessive. His retirement takes effect the day before the drawdown starts. Maybe coincidence.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on US seeking to maintain "vital" ties with Pakistan:

"This is a long-term, frustrating, frankly sometimes very outraging kind of experience," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about dealing with Pakistan in an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations committee yesterday. "And yet, I don't see any alternative, if you look at vital American national interests."

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday that "the entire chain of command in the United States through the president thinks it's important that we sustain this relationship even through its most difficult times."

At the heart of U.S.-Pakistani tension is how much influence Pakistan will wield over Afghanistan as the U.S. reduces its role there, beginning with a withdrawal of 33,000 soldiers by September 2012.

Close Bases

The U.S. has demanded since at least 2004 that Pakistan close bases in its western borderlands from which Taliban guerrillas attack American and Afghan government troops. Since the 1980s, Pakistan's army covertly has supported the Taliban and allied guerrilla groups as a way to keep Afghanistan from allying with Pakistan's arch-foe, India, and prevent it from pursuing historic claims to rule parts of what is now Pakistan.

When asked by a lawmaker about Pakistan's role, Mullen replied that "there's great risk in the strategy tied to Pakistan. There has been from the beginning."

Mullen and Clinton were the highest level administration officials to visit Pakistan after the U.S. commando raid that killed bin Laden, an operation the U.S. conducted without informing Pakistani leaders. CIA chief Leon Panetta made an unannounced visit there the day after his June 9 Senate confirmation hearing to become defense secretary.

Task Force

Administration officials point to signs in the past few weeks that Pakistani leaders also want to maintain the relationship, including a recent accord establishing a joint counterterrorism task force and the killing or capture of "several very key extremists," Clinton said.

In Pakistan, the question of whether to sustain the relationship is up for debate, said Seth Jones, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation.

There is "an internal struggle within Pakistan's key national security agencies about the state of the relationship, whether it's worthwhile, whether it should continue, and that will be an ongoing process," said Jones, who has served as a military adviser in the region.

The raid on bin Laden's compound has been denounced by many Pakistanis as a breach of sovereignty. In a May meeting, the army's top generals pushed General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to explain why Pakistan supports the U.S.

Second Term

While Pakistan's army remains highly disciplined, Kayani's authority may face greater challenges from the officer corps as he serves an unprecedented second term as commander, said Brian Cloughley, a historian of the Pakistan military. An increasing number of military officers "have begun to see this war as America's war," said Javed Hussain, a retired Pakistani army brigadier, in a June 16 phone interview.
"When it comes to Pakistan, there is a ledger," said Clinton. "On one side of the ledger are a lot of actions that we really disapprove of and find inimicable to our values and even our interests, and then on the other side of the ledger there are actions that are very much in line with what we are seeking and want. So we're constantly balancing and weighing that."

Read more:

Riaz Haq said...

While Bin Laden is said to have lived undetected in Abbottabad, Pakistan for 5 years until his killing by the CIA in May, Whitey Bulger, another man on FBI's 10 Most Wanted, lived undetected in the United States for 17 years until he was arrested in June, according to UK's Telegraph newspaper.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador in Washington, compared the two situations in a conversation with The Atlantic:

I just got off the phone with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, who was adamant that Pakistan assisted the U.S. in locating Bin Laden, and who responded to criticism that Pakistan should have been able to locate Bin Laden by noting American law enforcement's difficulty in capturing wanted criminals inside the U.S. He made specific reference to the notorious Boston gangland figure James J. "Whitey" Bulger: "If Whitey Bulger can live undetected by American police for so long, why can't Osama Bin Laden live undetected by Pakistani authorities?" Haqqani asked. Bulger, the former head of Boston's Winter Hill gang, was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List in mid-1999, two months after Bin Laden himself first appeared on the list. Haqqani continued, "The fact is, Mafia figures manage to do this sort of thing in Brooklyn, and Pakistan is a country that does not have the highly-developed law enforcement capabilities that your country possesses."

Haqqani went on to say, "President Obama has answered the question about Pakistan's role. It wouldn't have been possible to get Bin Laden without Pakistan's help. People are piling on this one, but the fact is, it is very plausible for someone to live undetected for long periods of time."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a VOA report about Clinton and Panetta on US-Pakistan relations:

.. at a public forum with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Washington’s National Defense University, the defense chief was unusually candid about U.S. problem issues with Pakistan.

Panetta said Pakistan has "relationships” with the Haqqani network - militants based in western Pakistan who conduct cross-border attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and with Lashkar-e-Taiba militants who have attacked India.

Both groups are listed by the United States as terrorist organizations. Despite complaints that Pakistan has withheld visas for U.S. citizens being posted there, Panetta said the relationship remains essential.

“There is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan," said Panetta. "Why? Because we are fighting a war there. We are fighting al-Qaida there. And they do give us some cooperation in that effort. Because they do represent an important force in that region. Because they do happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons, and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons. So for all of those reasons, we’ve got to maintain a relationship with Pakistan.”

Secretary of State Clinton said the Obama administration considers relations with Pakistan to be of “paramount importance.”

She said there have been “challenges” in bilateral ties for decades with valid complaints on both sides, and that she credits the Islamabad government with lately recognizing its shared interest with Washington in confronting terrorism.

“I was very pleased when the Pakistanis moved into [the] Swat [Valley] and cleaned out a lot of what had become a kind of Pakistani Taliban stronghold," said Clinton. "And then they began to take some troops off their border with India, to put more resources into the fight against the Pakistani Taliban. Now, as Leon [Panetta] says, we have some other targets that we discuss with them - the Haqqanis, for example. And yet it’s been a relatively short period of time, two-and-a-half years, when they have begun to reorient themselves militarily against what is, in our view, an internal threat to them.”

The State Department on Tuesday designated a key Haqqani network commander - Mullah Sangeen Zadran - a terrorist under a 2001 White House executive order, freezing any U.S. assets he has and barring Americans from business dealings with him.

At the same time, Sangeen was designated a terrorist by the U.N. sanctions committee, which will subject him to a global travel ban, an asset freeze and an arms embargo.

A State Department statement said Sangeen, is a “shadow governor” of Afghanistan’s southeast Paktika province and a senior lieutenant of network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. It said Sangeen has coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into that country and that he is linked to numerous bomb attacks and kidnappings.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Salon Op Ed "America: The Ally from Hell" by Jordan Michael Smith:

If there is one thing Republican presidential candidates agree on, it’s the treachery of Pakistan. Rep. Michele Bachmann leads the pack. At last week’s GOP debate, she called Pakistan “violent” and “more than an existential threat” to the United States, because it is “a nation that lies, that does everything possible that you could imagine wrong.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Pakistan has “shown us time after time that they can’t be trusted.” He called for a cutoff of aid, a line that drew applause from the audience. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said on Sunday that America might have to “look for a new partner in the region” and also suggested a cutoff in aid might be in order.

It is not only GOP leaders who are obsessed with Pakistan. “The Ally From Hell,” screams the cover of this month’s Atlantic. New York’s Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman called Pakistan “perfidious” recently, saying the country was not an ally, a friend, a partner or a teammate. “Pakistan is on its own side, period,” Ackerman said at a House Subcommittee Hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

One would think from all this talk that America’s behavior vis-à-vis Pakistan has been pure and good. But the reality could not be further from the self-righteous claims persistently emanating from Washington’s complainers. America has acted no better than Pakistan in the relationship, and may even have been the worse partner. Understanding the fury over NATO’s recent killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers requires a deeper look at the relationship.

Let’s begin near the beginning. Within days of the 9/11 attacks, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was deputized to meet with a Pakistani official. According to Pakistan’s then-President Pervez Musharraf, Armitage said that Pakistan, if it did not cooperate unconditionally with the United States, needed to be prepared to be “bombed backed to the stone age.”

Armitage was only reinforcing Secretary of State Colin Powell’s message to Musharraf, which included a list of demands, among them full use of Pakistani airspace, closure of its borders with Afghanistan, and use of its territory as a staging base. In return, Pakistan was granted loads of cash — and the pleasant experience of not being bombed back to the stone age.
A December 2009 cable from WikiLeaks supports Cordesman’s view. Sent by then-Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson to the State Department in 2009, the cable argues that drones are effective in killing al-Qaida henchmen, but will not succeed in entirely eliminating the terrorist group’s leadership. In the meantime, “Increased unilateral operations in these areas risk destabilizing the Pakistan state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis within Pakistan without finally achieving the goal [of eliminating the al-Qaida and Taliban leadership].”

Destabilizing Pakistan is the worst option of all. It is a large nation with nuclear weapons, situated between Afghanistan, China, India and Iran, with a sizable contingent of anti-American sentiment. Few things should be more disturbing to American minds than the prospect of Pakistani disintegration.

And yet that is exactly what the hawks who so loudly denounced Pakistan’s perfidy risk achieving. Remember that the next time you hear about the country’s halfhearted support for American operations in the region. Better to be halfhearted than half-brained.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of NY Times summary of “The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth” by Mark Mazzetti:

More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.
Back in Washington, Ambassador Haqqani was summoned to C.I.A. headquarters on Feb. 21 and taken into Panetta’s spacious office overlooking the agency’s campus in Langley, Va. Sitting around a large conference table, Panetta asked Haqqani for his help securing Davis’s release. “If you’re going to send a Jason Bourne character to Pakistan, he should have the skills of a Jason Bourne to get away,” Haqqani shot back, according to one person who attended the meeting.
Munter said he believed that the C.I.A. was being reckless and that his position as ambassador was becoming untenable. His relationship with the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, already strained because of their disagreements over the handling of the Davis case, deteriorated even further when Munter demanded that the C.I.A. give him the chance to call off specific missile strikes. During one screaming match between the two men, Munter tried to make sure the station chief knew who was in charge, only to be reminded of who really held the power in Pakistan.
The matter was simple, Obama said in a news conference: Davis, “our diplomat in Pakistan,” should be immediately released under the “very simple principle” of diplomatic immunity. “If our diplomats are in another country,” said the president, “then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution.”
On the streets and in the markets of Pakistan, Raymond Davis remains the boogeyman, an American killer lurking in the subconscious of a deeply insecure nation. On a steamy summer night last summer, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed — the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the reason Davis and his team were sent to Lahore in the first place — stood on the back of a flatbed truck and spoke to thousands of cheering supporters less than a mile from Pakistan’s Parliament building in Islamabad. A $10 million American bounty still hung over Saeed’s head, part of a broader squeeze on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s finances. But there he was, out in the open and whipping the crowd into a fury with a pledge to “rid Pakistan of American slavery.” The rally was the culmination of a march from Lahore to Islamabad that Saeed ordered to protest American involvement in the country. The night before the march reached the capital, six Pakistani troops were killed by gunmen riding motorcycles not far from where the marchers were spending the night, leading to speculation that Saeed had ordered the attack.

But Saeed insisted that night that he was not to blame for the deaths. The killers were foreigners, he told the crowd, a group of assassins with a secret agenda to destabilize Pakistan and steal its nuclear arsenal. With a dramatic flourish, he said he knew exactly who had killed the men.

“It was the Americans!” he shouted to loud approvals. “It was Blackwater!” The cheers grew even louder. He saved the biggest applause line ...

Riaz Haq said...

The narrative in a number of recent books by authors like TV Paul, Carlotta Gall and Husain Haqqani needs to be challenged through Q&As.

Here's what the narrative says:

1. Pakistan has been lying to the United States to get aid since its inception in 1947.

2. The US has provided massive aid but Pakistan has not delivered anything substantial in return.

3. The duplicitous Pakistan game continues to this day.

If you really analyse this narrative, you have to conclude that Pakistanis are uniquely clever in deceiving the superpower US and its highly sophisticated policymakers who have been taken for a ride by Pakistanis for over 6 decades.


1. If the standard western narrative is correct, why have successive US administrations been so gullible as to be duped by Pakistan's politicians and generals for such a long period of time? Is it an indictment of all US administrations from Truman to Obama?

2. What role did Pakistan play in the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and the subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union?

3. What price has Pakistan paid for facilitating US military operations in Afghanistan? How many Pakistani soldiers and civilians have lost their lives since 911?

Please read the following posts on my blog:

1. "Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done." Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates June 2011

2. "The Pakistani establishment, as we saw in 1998 with the nuclear test, does not view assistance -- even sizable assistance to their own entities -- as a trade-off for national security vis-a-vis India". US Ambassador Anne Patterson, September 23, 2009

Bottom Line: Alliance never means's true of all US allies. US and its closest allies in Europe and elsewhere interests do not always converge on all issues.

Riaz Haq said...

From Newsweek:

Israel was singled out in 2007 as a top espionage threat against the U.S. government, including its intelligence services, in a newly published National Security Agency (NSA) document obtained by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden, according to a news report Monday.

The document also identified Israel, along with North Korea, Cuba and India, as a “leading threat” to the infrastructure of U.S. financial and banking institutions.

The threats were listed in the NSA’s 2007 Strategic Mission List, according to the document obtained by journalist/activist Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept, an online magazine that has a close relationship with Snowden, a former NSA and CIA contractor who fled the U.S. with thousands of top-secret documents last year.

Newsweek Magazine is Back In Print

In this new document, Israel was identified by the NSA as a security threat in several areas, including “the threat of development of weapons of mass destruction” and “delivery methods (particularly ballistic and nuclear-capable cruise missiles).” The NSA also flagged Israel’s “WMD and missile proliferation activities” and “cruise missiles” as threats.

In a section of the document headed “Foreign Intelligence, Counterintelligence; Denial & Deception Activities: Countering Foreign Intelligence Threats,” Israel was listed as a leading perpetrator of “espionage/intelligence collection operations and manipulation/influence operations…against U.S. government, military, science & technology and Intelligence Community” organs.

The term “manipulation/influence operations” refers to covert attempts by Israel to sway U.S. public opinion in its favor. In this, Israel has dubious company, according to the NSA: Other leading threats were listed as China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, France, Venezuela and South Korea.

Israel has similar company in threats against U.S. infrastructure, according to the NSA document. Under a section headed “Mastering Cyberspace and Preventing an Attack on U.S. Critical Information Systems,” Israel, India, North Korea and Cuba are identified as “FIS [financial/banking system] threats.” Israel also appears on the list of countries believed by the NSA to be “enabling” electronic warfare “producers/proliferators.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Israel spied on #Iran nuclear talks with #US #Irandeal #Netanyahu via @WSJ

Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.

The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said.

The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.

The U.S. and Israel, longtime allies who routinely swap information on security threats, sometimes operate behind the scenes like spy-versus-spy rivals. The White House has largely tolerated Israeli snooping on U.S. policy makers—a posture Israel takes when the tables are turned.

The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.

Israeli officials denied spying directly on U.S. negotiators and said they received their information through other means, including close surveillance of Iranian leaders receiving the latest U.S. and European offers. European officials, particularly the French, also have been more transparent with Israel about the closed-door discussions than the Americans, Israeli and U.S. officials said.

Congressional aides and Israeli officials now say Israel’s coalition in Congress is short the votes needed to pass legislation that could overcome a presidential veto, although that could change. In response, Israeli officials said, Mr. Netanyahu was pursuing other ways to pressure the White House.

This week, Mr. Netanyahu sent a delegation to France, which has been more closely aligned with Israel on the nuclear talks and which could throw obstacles in Mr. Obama’s way before a deal is signed. The Obama administration, meanwhile, is stepping up its outreach to Paris to blunt the Israeli push.

“If you’re wondering whether something serious has shifted here, the answer is yes,” a senior U.S. official said. “These things leave scars.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pollard's Release and the Shame of American Jews
614 JUL 28, 2015 5:36 PM EDT
By Noah Feldman
I’m relieved that the nightmare of Jonathan Pollard’s imprisonment is about to be over. Not because I feel any sympathy whatsoever for the convicted spy who will be paroled in November after spending 30 years in prison. No, what relieves me is that, once he’s freed, we’ll be spared the spectacle of respectable American Jewish leaders calling for his early release. Those requests have been harmful to the principle that American Jews can be totally loyal Americans and also care about Israel. The end of this whole shameful episode is therefore cause not for celebration, but for relief.

Even at this distance of time, it remains stunning to me that anyone outside Israel would think Pollard was unfairly treated. Those who advocated the release of the former Navy analyst advanced a variety of reasons. The most significant and consistent argument was that Pollard had been the victim of a U.S. government deception: First the Department of Justice told him they would seek something less than a life sentence. Then the secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger, wrote a letter to the sentencing judge asking for the maximum sentence on the grounds that Pollard’s stolen secrets had badly damaged the country’s security.

It’s hard to imagine anyone less well placed to complain about a government trick than a person who deceived that very government, his employer to whom he had sworn an oath of loyalty. Even if the government’s approach was sneaky, it pales next to Pollard’s actions.

Then there’s Pollard’s refusal to disclose all the information he had stolen, to say nothing of the distinct probability that some of what he passed to Israel was then traded to the Soviets at the height of the Cold War.

It’s one thing for Israeli government officials like Benjamin Netanyahu to seek Pollard’s release. After all, Netanyahu has no duty of loyalty to the U.S. except for what one might expect from a close ally. Publicly asking for clemency for the Israeli spy might have been damaging to the country’s credibility, but it was good domestic politics for Netanyahu and no doubt pleased the Israeli intelligence community.

Yet for anyone holding a U.S. passport to seek Pollard’s release was, in my view, a serious moral and political error. American Jews have, for the most part, successfully managed to show their fellow citizens that while they support and often love Israel, they’re also profoundly loyal to their own country. Before you get upset and say there’s no reason Jewish Americans should have to prove their loyalty any more than other Americans, let me state categorically that I would hold other American ethnic groups to precisely the same standard. It’s perfectly natural to feel attachment to another nation in association with your religion, ethnicity or birthplace. Yet sometimes, that nation’s interests will conflict with that of the U.S. Israel is no exception to this reality, no matter how close an ally it may be. And when an American spies on the U.S. for Israel, that’s the clearest possible case of conflicting loyalty.

A loyal American should -- must -- react to such a betrayal with horror. It shouldn’t matter what the ethnicity of the spy is. But the ethnicity of the person seeking his release does matter. For American Jews to ask that Pollard’s sentence be shortened is to call into question the capacity of all American Jews to remain loyal to their country when the possibility of conflict arises.

Riaz Haq said...

The Long History of Political Idiocy in #America. #presidentialdebate #Trump2016 #Huckabee #TedCruz2016

WE are currently enjoying a master class in the art of political stupidity. Donald J. Trump has been schooling us for some time, but the Iran nuclear deal has touched off a new race to the bottom. Mike Huckabee said the agreement with Iran would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Ted Cruz called the Obama administration “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” Let’s not even get started on the Affordable Care Act, which Ben Carson once called “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

It’s tempting to rail against the media’s ability to elicit and amplify such stupidity. But none of this is new. Politicians have always resorted to dumb claims, blatant insults, bold exaggerations and baldfaced lies to gain press coverage and win votes. Indeed, Americans of the 19th century invented a name for it. The word “bunkum” — the origin of the word “bunk” — dates from the 1820s, a product of the over-the-top speechifying of Representative Felix Walker, who forewarned his congressional colleagues to ignore a blustery grandstand speech because it was intended only for the folks back home in Buncombe County, N.C. Then as now, raising hackles before the eyes of the press was a play for power; politicians who displayed their fighting-man spunk were strutting their suitability as leaders.

Such grandstanding was particularly blatant in the mid-19th century, an era with a political climate much like our own. The nation was becoming increasingly polarized because of the debate over the spread of slavery in new states born of Western expansion. At a time of enormous change, a sense of do-or-die extremism was in the air. New technologies, like the steam-powered printing press and the telegraph, were dramatically reshaping the power of the press.

Congress was particularly newsworthy in the 1840s, ’50s and ’60s. A typical newspaper had an extended account of debates in both houses, commentary on those debates and a “letter” from a Washington reporter (thus the term “correspondent”) filled with gossip about congressional doings. Legislators who went to extremes were virtually guaranteed press coverage. As Senator Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire griped in 1838, the visitors’ galleries were empty during debates on “great measures of policy,” but became “crowded almost to suffocation” when personal insults were expected.

Some men were known for such performances. Take Representative Henry A. Wise, a congressman from Virginia from 1833 to 1844. Like many purveyors of bunk, Wise was by no means a stupid man, however problematic his politics. (After his congressional career, he went on to become governor of Virginia, and signed the abolitionist John Brown’s death warrant.)

Wise loved grandstanding of all kinds: the swaggering threat, the mocking taunt, the over-the-top insult. He even took an occasional swing at an opponent. In 1842, he demonstrated his pro-slavery credentials by threatening to assault John Quincy Adams, an opponent of slavery, who had returned to the House after serving as president. “If the Member from Massachusetts had not been an old man, protected by the imbecility of age,” Wise warned, “he would not have enjoyed, as long as he has, the mercy of my mere words.” A horrified Adams wrote in his diary that night that Wise made “a threat of murdering me in my seat.”

Perhaps polarized times require such grandstanding. They certainly invite it. But, as now, some politicians in the 1850s recognized the risks and voiced their concerns. They understood that extreme claims and violent words have escalating consequences. The tossing of verbal “missiles” in Congress could cause bloodshed, one congressman presciently warned in July 1856.

In recent weeks, by contrast, we haven’t heard much talk of the consequences of political flame-throwing, save some hand-wringing by President Obama.

Riaz Haq said...

Trump’s Truth Bomb: “You Think We’re So Innocent?”

“Putin’s a killer.” This was the claim made by Fox News ‘journalist’ Bill O’Reilly during his recent interview with Donald Trump. Trump’s reply came in the form of a simple question. “What, you think our country’s so innocent?” It was a reply that succeeded in puncturing the bubble of exceptionalism in which Mr O’Reilly and those like him have long chosen to cocoon themselves from reality.

It was an extraordinary exchange, one that has gone viral on social media since. For liberals in the US and beyond it is being touted as yet more evidence of the fact that Donald Trump is completely unsuited to the rigors of the office of President. Meanwhile for dyed-in-the-wool neocons it suggests a leader of the so-called free world who is yet to realize the difference between ‘us’, the good guys, and ‘them’, the bad guys.

“Putin’s a killer.” Just ponder this statement for a moment, consider the ignorance, arrogance, and delusion it describes. Consider, too, the millions of human slaughtered by successive US presidents over the years, going back, say, to the Korean War and working your way forward. That they were killed in the name of democracy and human rights, at least according to Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the gang over at Fox News, is a boast as preposterous as it is grotesque. Firstly, justifying the wholesale slaughter of men, women, and children in the name of democracy renders the word completely meaningless. And secondly, what Mr O’Reilly describes as democracy others would describe as imperialism.

But then, you see, this is the problem when you sit at the apex of the most destructive empire the world has ever known. It distorts your sense reality to the point where you become intoxicated with the associated myths used to justify this empire and the vast destruction it has wreaked and continues to wreak across the world.

We see this distortion in the way that Barack Obama has been allowed to walk off into the sunset with the highest approval ratings of any US president in living memory, lamented as one of the most progressive leaders ever to occupy the Oval Office. It is a rendering of the legacy country’s first black president that fails to pass even the most tepid scrutiny.

Obama’s administration was, to be frank, a veritable killing machine, one comprising almost daily drone strikes, kill lists, and the wholesale destruction of entire countries, as in the case of Libya. In his final year in office the US dropped 27,000 bombs, up from the number dropped in 2015. Yet we are meant to regard the 44th president and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize as the modern incarnation of Dr Martin Luther King, a president who worked tirelessly for peace and justice.

Reminding Mr O’Reilly and his ilk of a few basic facts when it comes to the difference between Moscow and Washington’s actions around the world in recent years, there is a significant difference between a foreign policy driven by restoring stability and security to entire regions, in the case of Russia vis-à-vis the Middle East, and a foreign policy that has only succeeded in sowing instability and terrorism across those regions, in the case of the United States.

Bill O’Reilly’s discomfort at being corrected by the country’s President on the egregious record of his own country when it comes to body count, was redolent to that of a vampire suddenly exposed to daylight. The Fox News anchor was left floundering around in his chair, rattled by Trump’s simple yet withering words of truth in response to the kind of statement that has no place being made by any self-respecting journalist.

But then the Bill O’Reilly’s of our world are not journalists they are propagandists, engaged in spreading disinformation in the cause of the previously mentioned myths that both sustain and nourish a perverse worldview.