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Friday, May 6

U.S. and Pakistani damage control on Rawalpindi's involvement in terrorism ignores much history

Spin machines are working overtime on two continents in the attempt to limit the fallout from bin Laden's stay in Pakistan. Zenpundit blog's Mark Safranski looks at the Washington side in his May 6 post, Pakistan's ISI on trial in Chicago. He links to my May 4 post on steps the U.S. government has undertaken to downplay the ISI role in an upcoming terrorism trial, then observes:
As Pakistan’s corrupt military-feudal elite scramble to put out smoke after Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in an ISI safe house in Abbottabad and hire K Street lawyer-lobbyists like Mark Siegel at $75,000 a month, there are senior officials in Washington, inside and outside of the DoD, who doggedly championed Pakistan and defended the ISI behind closed doors. These officials, as one DC correspondent in the know related to me, are now looking extremely foolish to their peers, even as they double-down and attempt to salvage a thoroughly discredited policy by spinning hard.

While attention is focused on Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan’s dreaded ISI is quietly going on trial. In Chicago. [...]
Meanwhile, John Batchelor looks at the spin from Pakistan. In a summary of his Thursday-night show's discussion about Rawalpindi's presser on the same date, John notes:
Pakistani military officials discussed the U.S. raid in Abbottabad and its implications for U.S.-Pakistani military-to-military relations during the Corps Commanders' Conference, chaired by army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the Inter-Services Press Relations department said May 5.

The conference admitted shortcomings in developing intelligence on Osama bin Laden's presence in the country but emphasized that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate's achievements against al Qaeda and others were unmatched; approximately 100 senior al Qaeda leaders or operators have been captured or killed by the ISI, with or without CIA support.

The CIA-developed intelligence on bin Laden based on initial information from the ISI, but it did not share additional information on the case, the statement said. An investigation of the circumstances that led to this situation has been ordered.
A May 6 Wall Street Journal report that Mark linked to in his post mentions that Salman Bashir, Pakistan's foreign secretary, hotly defended Rawalpindi's record on dealing with al Qaeda:
Mr. Bashir pointed out that Pakistan had arrested almost 300 members of al Qaeda either alone or in joint operations with the U.S. since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, including 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Muhammed. In turn, al Qaeda leaders turned on Pakistan, unleashing a wave of bomb attacks on civilian and military targets.

"Osama bin Laden declared war against Pakistan. He launched wave after wave of suicide bombers who killed thousands of Pakistani men, women and children. These were the people who attacked the ISI, who attacked (military) general headquarters, who have attacked mosques and shrines," Mr. Bashir said. "You've got to be a really fantastic spin master to say the ISI or elements of the ISI are involved in this."
Their involvement in such attacks would be news to al Qaeda and to counterterrorism expert B. Raman, who many times over the years detailed the Pakistani-grown organizations that have made war on the ISI and Pakistan's military. (See Raman's May 2009 report for Forbes, An Alphabet Soup of Terror.) Al Qaeda has made certain not to soil its nest in Pakistan. But there is an element in Washington's Thinkistan that is all too willing to back up Bashir's claims. From the WSJ report:
Christine Fair, an associate professor and Pakistan expert at Georgetown University in Washington DC, said Pakistan's "record of helping us with al Qaeda is indisputable."
Indisputable, huh? How about if you and I take a trip down memory lane, Professor Fair? Let's link arms and skip back along a path piled high on either side with bodies of American dead.

The U.S. government paid their counterpart in Pakistan $25 million for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They paid $10 for another top al Qaeda operative, Abu Zubaydah.

Then Rawalpindi showed photographs of dead men with beards to the CIA, told them the corpses were al Qaeda operatives they'd killed, and got paid tens of millions of dollars in bounty. Some of those photographs cost the CIA one million dollars a pop.

I don't think being skinned counts as receiving indisputable help, particularly when all signs point to top al Qaeda operatives such as KSM being ISI assets that the ISI sacrificed because they wanted the bounty money to keep themselves in business.

If you'd like to review the bounty program in detail, Professor Fair, you can read my November 2009 post, How the U.S. government built a perpetual-motion war machine in Afghanistan and sacrificed American values in the process

The upshot of the bounty program is that together the U.S. and Pakistan built a kind of perpetual motion machine:
At the end of every complex set of transactions between the CIA and the ISI, yet more enemy combatants materialize, to be rounded up or dispatched, leading to yet more enemy combatants to attack ISAF troops and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, to be rounded up or dispatched, leading to -- well, last night CNN reported that "Taliban" now control 80 percent of Afghanistan, even though only 7 percent of Afghanis support the Taliban.
No, I wouldn't call that infernal machine "indisputable help." I'd call it a work of evil. The same kind of work that led to Operation Airlift of Evil.

Now let's get down to brass tacks. Christine Fair and other Thinktankistan denizens have spent years shopping the line around Washington that whatever 'alleged' terrorism the ISI engaged in was due to the Pakistani government's fear of India. Odd -- Pope John Paul II didn't look Indian to me, and neither does Kurt Westergaard, the Prophet Mohammed cartoonist -- two high-profile targets of terrorists linked to the ISI.

All this is threatening to come into the light of the U.S. mainstream media once the trial of Tahawwur Hussain Rana gets underway in Chicago because the prosecution's star witness, David Headley aka Dawood Gilani, has already confessed that he worked for the ISI. Which is why the government of the United States of America is moving heaven and earth to downplay Rana's testimony.

Isn't it so, Professor Fair?

For readers who might think I'm picking on to Christine Fair because of that little dustup in 2009 in response to her claim that India was staging provocations in Balochistan, why no. I'm picking on her because of what she told India's Rediff News in response to the dustup:
Fair argued that the massive [U.S.] aid to Pakistan would not "fix Pakistan's chronically neuralgic sense of insecurity vis-a-vis India."
On what recitation of facts about the history of Pakistan's aggression does Fair base her conclusion that Pakistan is insecure about India?

No such facts exist outside the brains of Professor Fair and the host of other South Asia experts whose opinions form the foundation of Washington's Thinktankistan. Another way to put this is to observe that never before has so much American blood been shed because of a complete fantasy.

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