Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid

At a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael J. Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director, to rate Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10.

“Three,” Mr. Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange.
--NY Times

Where to begin, where to begin? The relationship between Pakistan and the United States is a study of illusion and political posturing. If we go back to the 1980s, we meet a young Osama bin Laden fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. The United States felt a little payback was in order for all of the support the Soviet Union gave North Vietnam. The CIA began supplying the Mujahadeen (freedom fighters) Stinger missiles since the Afghanis were getting decimated by Soviet Mi-24 helicopters.

The recipient of these Stinger missiles was our then friend, and future most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden. The missiles took out the Mi-24s, and many feel, led to the Soviet withdrawal. So why then did Osama bin Laden attack the US? The Reagan administration, especially the CIA, assumed Osama bin Laden was an ally since he was fighting a common enemy. However, the whole reason the Saudi was in Afghanistan in the first place was because of his extreme Islamic beliefs. Osama bin Laden felt the United States had no more business being in Afghanistan than the Soviet Union.

Osama bin Laden fought in Afghanistan but was actually based in Pakistan. After the Soviet withdrawal, the Pakistanis gave the remaining Stingers to North Korea in the hopes the special batteries could be reverse engineered. You have to wonder what Pakistan received in return for those missiles (and sniper rifles).

Flash forward to earlier this year when a CIA "contractor" killed two ISI (Pakistani intelligence service) agents. The killings marked the previous months of bombings by US forces based in Afghanistan on tribal areas in Pakistan. The Pakistanis were not pleased.

Given the history of Osama bin Laden operating from Pakistan during the Soviet invasion, it is not so surprising to discover he was hiding out in Pakistan before the SEALs came knocking. The killing of Osama bin Laden publicly raised the question of just how committed Pakistan is to fighting Al Qaeda. There are public reports that Al Qaeda may have placed operatives in the Pakistani military.

Now Pakistan has arrested the CIA informants and in the media it looks like a surprise. In reality, this is a continuation of what has been developing between the United States and Pakistan going on 30 years. The real problem for the United States is Pakistan may not allow armed drones to be flown out of their bases forcing the US to relocated the drones to Afghanistan.

A story that seems to have already been forgotten is China's announcement several weeks ago that it will not tolerate any military action by the US in Pakistan.

The story of the United States and Pakistan is far from over and will not get resolved before the 2012 election.

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