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Tuesday, May 17

Amrullah Saleh: "The amount of pain Pakistan has inflicted upon the United States in the past 12 years is unprecedented."

"I asked a U.S. politician today, I said, 'How do you explain to Americans that we give billions to Pakistan and Pakistan, in return, supports the Taliban and the Taliban, in return, yesterday killed six American soldiers?'" Saleh said.

Asked what the politician said, Saleh told Logan, "His answer was not satisfactory."

"What was it?" Logan asked.

"He said, 'Well we know this,'" Saleh said.

"And no one does anything about it?" Logan asked.

"Exactly," Saleh said.

"While American soldiers come home in body bags?" Logan asked.

"Yes. Yes," he replied.

When we went to the frontlines in eastern Afghanistan last summer, we found U.S. commanders there shared Saleh's concerns about Pakistan.

Over three weeks, the American units we were with were attacked again and again.

At one point, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were fighting their way out of an ambush not far from the Pakistani border. They told us that as fast as they kill their enemy, they are replaced with new fighters pouring over the border in a seemingly endless supply.

"Most of the people we are fighting are from Pakistan," Lt. Col. JB Vowell told Logan.

Vowell lost 17 soldiers over the past year. He told us his forces killed hundreds of fighters in constant battles, but you can't defeat an enemy that has safe haven over the border.

"How significant is that to the strength of the enemy?" Logan asked.

"It's very," Vowell said. 'Freedom of movement and maneuver is sacrosanct. Once you have that, all things are possible."

"And that's what they have inside Pakistan?" Logan asked.

"They have a lot of that inside Pakistan," Vowell agreed.
[...]
[U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers] also confirmed what Saleh said about the Taliban's senior leaders operating from Quetta. "No doubt about it. For far too long. It was one of those I think arranged trade-offs for other bits of cooperation," he said.

"So the U.S. knew that and accepted it?" Logan asked.

"Well, they knew that they weren't being aggressive there. It didn't stop CIA's interest in trying to determine exactly who, what, when, where in Quetta, which is -- you've been there, I've been there -- it's a difficult place to operate under any circumstances," Rogers replied.
[...]
"The senior Taliban leaders, we would learn about their locations every day. We would have their telephone numbers," [Saleh] told Logan. [emphasis mine]

He told Logan that those telephone numbers were passed on to the U.S.

Saleh says many of those numbers were traced to Quetta, Pakistan, where the Taliban's senior leaders, known as the Quetta Shura, are based.

Saleh told Logan no action was ever taken against the Quetta Shura.

"The U.S. could have taken action against senior Taliban leadership -- " Logan remarked.

"They can take action tomorrow against -- " Saleh replied.

"They still can?" Logan asked.

"Of course," Saleh said.

"And they don't?" Logan asked.

"They don't," he replied.

______

On Sunday I mentioned the CBS 60 Minutes Lara Logan interview that night with Amrullah Saleh and pulled quotes from advance copy on the show. Yet there were so many crucial points to emerge from the interview that in addition to posting the above quotes from the interview I'm republishing the entire transcript, which also records brief interviews that Logan conducted with people commenting on Saleh's points, and which are interspersed with her interview with Salah.

Those who prefer to watch the video of the interview can do so at the same CBS website that features the transcript. The site also features two video 'extras' -- one about why Amrullah Saleh resigned from his post as the NDS chief and the other about the great value of the intelligence that Saleh gave the "international intelligence community" while he was head of the NDS.

I could say much about the interview but for this post I'll turn over the blog to Lara Logan, with profuse thanks to her and the entire 60 Minutes production team and CBS News for bringing such an important issue to prime-time American national television. And, of course, with my thanks to Amrullah Saleh, who has repeatedly risked his life to speak out.
(CBS News - Produced by Max McClellan) The news that Osama bin Laden had been hiding in plain sight in a Pakistani military town surprised many Americans, but it came as no surprise to the man you'll hear from. His name is Amrullah Saleh and four years ago he told Pakistan's president that bin Laden was living in that very area.

At the time, Saleh was at the height of his power as Afghanistan's top spy, their chief of intelligence. No one worked more closely with the U.S. in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. He is also one of Pakistan's fiercest critics and long before bin Laden's death, behind closed doors, he was urging the U.S. to pay attention to the intelligence he was gathering on Pakistan's covert support for America's enemies.

Now he makes that case publicly.

"You have to give Pakistan a title. Is it a friend? What is Pakistan?" Saleh asked Lara Logan.

"It currently has the title of ally," she pointed out.

"Right; deceptive," Saleh replied.

Asked what he thinks the title should be, Saleh told Logan, "It should be a hostile country, a hostile state."

Asked if Pakistan is the enemy of the U.S., Saleh said, "The amount of pain Pakistan has inflicted upon the United States in the past 12 years is unprecedented. No other country has inflicted that amount of pain upon your nation."

"When you say pain, what do you mean specifically?" Logan asked.

"I mean, they generate fear for your country. They take your money. They do not cooperate. They created the Taliban. They are number one in nuclear proliferation, you name it. Every pain (the) U.S. has in that part of the world, the hub of that is Pakistan," Saleh explained.

That may sound harsh, considering what President Obama told Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes" last week: "Pakistan, since 9/11, has been a strong counterterrorism partner with us."

While he acknowledged Pakistan has been helpful in fighting al Qaeda, the president also said the relationship has problems. And according to Saleh, the biggest problem is that Pakistan gives safe haven to Taliban leaders.

"The senior Taliban leaders, we would learn about their locations every day. We would have their telephone numbers," he told Logan.

He told Logan that those telephone numbers were passed on to the U.S.

Saleh says many of those numbers were traced to Quetta, Pakistan, where the Taliban's senior leaders, known as the Quetta Shura, are based.

Saleh told Logan no action was ever taken against the Quetta Shura.

"The U.S. could have taken action against senior Taliban leadership -- " Logan remarked.

"They can take action tomorrow against -- " Saleh replied.

"They still can?" Logan asked.

"Of course," Saleh said.

"And they don't?" Logan asked.

"They don't," he replied. "That's why I say the surge is not addressing the fundamental question. What do you do with sanctuaries in Pakistan?"

Congressman Mike Rogers is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that helps oversee all of America's intelligence agencies. He echoed what President Obama has said, and told us that Pakistan has arrested hundreds of terrorists in cities across the country over the last ten years.

Rogers also confirmed what Saleh said about the Taliban's senior leaders operating from Quetta. "No doubt about it. For far too long. It was one of those I think arranged trade-offs for other bits of cooperation," he said.

"So the U.S. knew that and accepted it?" Logan asked.

"Well, they knew that they weren't being aggressive there. It didn't stop CIA's interest in trying to determine exactly who, what, when, where in Quetta, which is -- you've been there, I've been there -- it's a difficult place to operate under any circumstances," Rogers replied.

"Why doesn't the U.S. say to Pakistan 'If you don't go after the Afghan Taliban's leadership, the Quetta Shura, we're going to do it'?" Logan asked.

"Well, that's a great point. Many pressed the administration to do just that. And there's been a constant debate, certainly on the intelligence committee about how far we go," Rogers said.

Asked if he considers Pakistan a good, strong ally, Rogers told Logan, "I would say Pakistan is an ally. There are challenges, there's serious challenges there, and ally may be too strong a word. We have yet to clearly define with each other that our national interests coincide."

Saleh says that Pakistan goes after some of America's enemies, while protecting others. It's a problem U.S. military and political leaders have raised repeatedly with their Pakistani counterparts.

There was a time when Saleh and Pakistan fought against a common enemy: the Soviets, who occupied Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Saleh was captured on film in a BBC documentary made some 20 years ago. At the age of 19, he was already a seasoned war veteran, in charge of rebuilding villages bombed in the fighting.

Like many Afghans, Saleh was born into war and grew up dirt poor.

His experience and intellect and hatred for the Taliban's extremist views helped his rapid rise to the powerful position of intelligence chief when he was just 32.

He quit the Afghan government last summer, but his reputation still opens doors for him in Washington today. When we saw him on his last trip, he had just met with some of the most senior people in the U.S. government responsible for Afghan policy.

"I asked a U.S. politician today, I said, 'How do you explain to Americans that we give billions to Pakistan and Pakistan, in return, supports the Taliban and the Taliban, in return, yesterday killed six American soldiers?'" Saleh said.

Asked what the politician said, Saleh told Logan, "His answer was not satisfactory."

"What was it?" Logan asked.

"He said, 'Well we know this,'" Saleh said.

"And no one does anything about it?" Logan asked.

"Exactly," Saleh said.

"While American soldiers come home in body bags?" Logan asked.

"Yes. Yes," he replied.

When we went to the frontlines in eastern Afghanistan last summer, we found U.S. commanders there shared Saleh's concerns about Pakistan.

Over three weeks, the American units we were with were attacked again and again.

At one point, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were fighting their way out of an ambush not far from the Pakistani border. They told us that as fast as they kill their enemy, they are replaced with new fighters pouring over the border in a seemingly endless supply.

"Most of the people we are fighting are from Pakistan," Lt. Col. JB Vowell told Logan.

Vowell lost 17 soldiers over the past year. He told us his forces killed hundreds of fighters in constant battles, but you can't defeat an enemy that has safe haven over the border.

"How significant is that to the strength of the enemy?" Logan asked.

"It's very," Vowell said. 'Freedom of movement and maneuver is sacrosanct. Once you have that, all things are possible."

"And that's what they have inside Pakistan?" Logan asked.

"They have a lot of that inside Pakistan," Vowell agreed.

"Do you think the U.S. should be more aggressive with Pakistan?" Logan asked Congressman Rogers.

"I do believe we have to be more aggressive. You can't put soldiers in harm's way and not be aggressive with where the enemies we know are threatening our soldiers and our country reside," he replied.

"What do you think is the most egregious thing the Pakistanis have done in this relationship with the U.S.?" Logan asked.

"I think they have disclosed operations that we have shared with them. I know that to be true. I think they've held back information that they could've possibly given us. We know that to be true. We have to negotiate even now to get access to the to the wives of bin Laden. They've been playing a funny game with us I think for internal political consumption, more so than in reality," Rogers said.

"And even now in the wake of bin Laden's death?" Logan asked.

"Yeah. They haven't been fully cooperative yet. I imagine that they will get there," Rogers said.

It took Pakistan more than a week to get there and so far they've only allowed the U.S. limited access to the wives under the supervision of Pakistan's intelligence service.

Saleh believes Pakistan should now deliver other high-value targets.

Rep. Rogers agrees. "I hope they see this as an opportunity to be more cooperative. To be more open, to help us with other targets that we have in Pakistan that we're very interested in having apprehended and brought to justice."

"Such as Al Qaeda's number two," Logan pointed out.

"Zawahiri is a great example. I believe he's in Pakistan," Rogers agreed.

Al Qaeda's leaders and the Taliban have been trying to kill Saleh for years. And when we first met him at Afghanistan's intelligence headquarters in Kabul in 2009, he was living under constant threat of assassination.

"I am a legitimate target," he told Logan at the time. "And if they kill me, I have told my family and my friends not to complain about anything, because I have killed many of them with pride."

Today, even though he's out of the government, he's still travels across the country campaigning for the defeat of al Qaeda and the Taliban and he's still a marked man.

He told Logan has was ambushed three times after he had resigned from the government. "When I was traveling, I was ambushed. The convoy I was traveling with was ambushed," he explained.

Asked if he's worried about his own survival, Saleh said, "No. No. There is a cause. And in pursuance of that cause I embrace death, it will be a dignified death."

The death of Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan didn't surprise Saleh because he had been making that case for years.

Saleh says he confronted former President Pervez Musharraf back in 2007. He told him Afghan intelligence believed bin Laden was in the Pakistani city of Mansehra.

Saleh told us Musharraf was so offended that he lunged at him, and that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had to intervene.

It turns out Mansehra is just 12 miles from where bin Laden was eventually found.

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Comments:
Pundita,

According to one rumor the Quetta shura is a creation of the CIA for bigger jobs like dismembering pakistan at the right time. However, the talibani's are playing this game on both sides, killing NATO soldiers in Afghanistan and doing CIA's bidding whenever it is called for. As usual, the Pentagon/State department is oblivious of this and are busy pumping tax payers money into a black hole called pakistan.

Mayura
 
Thanks for the latest from the rumor mill. As I'm sure you know Pakistan is awash in paranoid rumors but that one takes the cake. No way is the CIA running Mullah Omar & Co.

But as long as we're in paranoid territory, I'd like to ask the British government why it thinks the U.S. hasn't gone after the Quetta shura.
 
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