Sunday, December 06, 2009

Who's Harboring bin Laden Now?

I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to ~ Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67th US Secretary of State (1/21/2009 to Present), referring to the Pakistan government and the conventional wisdom that bin Laden and al Qaeda are hiding out somewhere in Pakistan's Hindu Kush mountains (10/29/2009).

Personally I think that Osama bin Laden is probably dead (as Benazir Bhutto believed), although for the purposes of this post I'll go along with the belief that he's alive and hiding out in "northwestern Pakistan's impenetrable Hindu Kush mountains... in the Chitral region".

Obviously Hillary Clinton believes it to be the case - that OBL is hiding out in these mountains, or somewhere else in Pakistan - and that the Pakistani government (or elements within the government) know where bin Laden is and aren't doing everything they could be doing to see that he is brought to justice.

Apparently this is the same area he has been hiding out in since December of 2001, after he "escaped" following the battle of Tora Bora. Since then we've sent Pakistan 8.6 Billion (as of 2008) in bribes to fight al Qaeda and hunt down bin Laden. Yet, according to retired Pakistani general Mahmud Durrani, "The army itself got very little. ...The military was financing the war on terror out of its own budget".

Most of the money went toward propping up Pakistan's sagging economy, and toward "support capability against India". It isn't like this information is new either; the US has suspected it for quite some time, but done nothing. I pointed out in my previous post that Afghanistan was invaded because they were "harboring" bin Laden. So if what Secretary Clinton says is true, coupled with the fact that most of the billions we've sent them isn't being used to fight al Qaeda or capture bin Laden, do Pakistan's actions not amount to harboring?

Does anyone else find it odd that the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists" resolution of 2001 gave bush the authority to invade Afghanistan because they were "harboring" bin Laden, but Pakistan, who (it could be argued) has been harboring bin Laden for years, gets billions of dollars to use as they please?

Could it be the reason we're bribing them is because they've got nukes? That is partly the reason, I believe. Also, the bribes allow us to fly drones over their territory, fire missiles, and accidentally kill scores of innocent people without having to answer for the collateral damage negligent homicides? Attacks which Pakistan then officially denies they've approved.

The US Department of Defense defines "collateral damage" as, "unintentional or incidental injury or damage to persons or objects that would not be lawful military targets in the circumstances ruling at the time". And that, "such damage is not unlawful so long as it is not excessive in light of the overall military advantage anticipated from the attack".

I don't agree that killing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians in addition to the 14 wanted al Qaeda leaders you were actually targeting is not excessive (1/14/2006 to 4/8/2009). This is an indictment against the bush administration AND the Obama administration, under whom drone attacks have intensified.

This isn't the point I was trying to make with this post, however. I wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of toppling one government (the Taliban of Afghanistan) when they clearly tried to give us what we wanted, and giving billions in bribes to another while looking the other way when they use that money for purposes other than what we gave it to them for. And this isn't also an indictment of the Obama administration, because that is apparently starting to change. Now military aid will be "contingent on Pakistan's efforts to cut government ties to insurgents". "Government ties to insurgents" sounds like "harboring" to me. I don't know why this wasn't a condition of continued aid before!

Maybe this is why bush traded our nuclear technology for India's mangos? He knew that would force Pakistan to use our billions defending themselves against India and not on fighting al Qaeda and finding bin Laden. The nuke technology we gave India was supposedly for civilian use only, but they are not signatories to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

Given Pakistan's "obsession with India [which] has made [their] military resistant, practically up to the present, to reorienting its defense posture to include counterinsurgency capabilities needed to deal with growing internal threats", it's not surprising they are now on the verge of becoming a failed state. If this wasn't intentional, then what the hell was bush thinking? Even if the nuke technology we handed off to India doesn't end up in the hands of their military, I'm sure there are those in the Pakistani government who believe otherwise.

More importantly, why are we again funding (or providing technology to) both sides in a long running conflict? This reminds me of how the Reagan and George HW Bush administrations armed both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. (Yet another example of war crimes committed by Republican Presidents!)

I do not know how much merit there is to what Hillary Clinton said. It is obvious, however, that Pakistan needs to direct more of their attention towards internal threats rather than blowing all our money defending themselves against India; a miscalculation which could end with Pakistan becoming the world's first nuclear armed failed state.

9/26/2014 Update: As we all now know, OBL was not dead and not hiding out in "northwestern Pakistan's impenetrable Hindu Kush mountains. He was ALIVE and living in a compound in Abbotabad... Pakistan. According to Wikipedia, "Bin Laden was reported to have evaded capture by living in a section of the house for at least five years".

A 3/19/2014 NYT article by Carlotta Gall says "members of the ISI, Pakistan's main intelligence service" were responsible for hiding bin Laden.

Shakil Afridi, "a Pakistani physician who helped the CIA run a fake vaccine program in Abbottabad... to confirm Osama bin Laden's presence in the city by obtaining DNA samples" said (in a Fox News interview) that "Pakistan's fight against militancy is bogus. It's just to extract money from America".

The Abbottabad Commission report (a judicial inquiry paper authored and submitted by the Abbottabad Commission, led by Justice Javaid Iqbal, to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1/4/2013) blamed "incompetence at every level in the Pakistan's intelligence and security services [but] did not rule out the involvement of rogue elements within the Pakistani intelligence service.

SWTD #34

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