Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Neo-Conned Over Musharaff

How is it possible, given all the intelligence presented by NATO, India and Afghanistan that Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency is the mover and shaker behind the Taliban and Al Qaeda, for a US Director of national Security to make a statement to Congress about the situation in Afghanistan and seemingly not mention the ISI even once?

How is it possible for such a well-informed D.C. insider as David Sanger (with Commisar Michael Gordon in a political overwatch post) to write an entire NY Times article on the danger signals of a resurgent Taliban presented by the bombing at Bagram airbase while Dick Cheney was there, and also not mention the ISI even once? (In fact, Sanger mentions Pakistani government failure to be an ally exactly once, in a throwaway line which minimizes that failure as mere "scapegoating" in the last paragraph.)

Instead, all the rhetoric in the US focusses on how Musharaff needs careful "propping up" against the possibility of an Islamist takeover - while all the real evidence suggests that Musharaff is supported by the main Islamist political parties in Pakistan and that in any case the military has such a strong hold on the bases of real political power that any coup would simply replace Musharaff with a new military dictator.

All this, too, while Bush is telling everyone about another possibly rogue force and it's national leaders: "Which is worse, that they do know or that they don't?"

It is possible that there's a deep sense of (bipartisan) embarassment at having been gamed all this time by Pakistan.

It is also possible that the narrative on national security has been, so far, driven by Republican framing and that the Republican sense of being "strong on national security" is about as deep as Michelle Malkin's nail polish.

I mean come on. What serious individual says something like "an attack planned on the Vice President of the United States is an attack on America" and then immediately segues to "I wonder what the badly-behaved Lefties are saying about hating Cheney?" It's like the uber-right's primary blogging voices read the correct answer out of a text-book and then, satisfied, immediately went back to preppy High School gossip. Can these people even chew gum and walk at the same time?

Tim F at Balloon Juice calls it "Attention Deficit Warfighting". Jill from Brilliant At Breakfast writes "If it were only the remaining 28-31% of Americans that still persist in believing in this bunch that were affected, we could say it's no less than they deserve. But they are going to drag the rest of us down with them."

We, the world, need to stop letting the American Right drive the discussion on ending terrorism - because they are incompetent to do so.

Update Pakistan denies everything.
Pakistan on Wednesday rejected a claim by the U.S. intelligence chief that Osama bin Laden and his deputy were hiding in northwestern Pakistan, and that al Qaeda was setting up camps near the Afghan border.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, told The Associated Press there were no al Qaeda training camps in his country and U.S. officials had not provided any intelligence suggesting there were.

"We will act on any such intelligence, but so far they have not" provided any, he said.

Sherpao's comments came a day after Mike McConnell, the new U.S. intelligence chief, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that al Qaeda was trying to set up operations in largely ungoverned parts of Pakistan's northwest, along Afghanistan's eastern border.

"It's something we're very worried about and very concerned about," McConnell said. U.S. intelligence officials believe that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, were trying to establish an al Qaeda base in the region, he said. McConnell noted the camps are in an area that has never been governed by any state or outside power.

U.S. officials fear bin Laden no longer has to rely on couriers for his communications, but can meet with his senior leaders face to face and plan attacks on the U.S., CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.
I think the Pakistani government may be missing the point on talk of the Bush administration's credibility on intelligence reports being strained by past events, and so decided to chance a total denial. However, camps aren't exactly in the same category as dubious "assessments" of where bits and pieces of EFP might have come from. They're a bit more obvious and a bit less mobile, for one thing.

Notice they didn't mention Mullah Omar any? The Taliban leader openly holds his "shura" and training camps in the town of Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province. British intelligence has even given Pakistan his address and his cellphone number.

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