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Sunday, October 7

Further to my asking whether SecState Hillary Clinton committed treason (Updated)

In her September 13 notices, Clinton informed Congress that she was waiving provisions of the 2009 Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act and the State Department’s 2012 budget requiring that she certify that Islamabad has met certain conditions before some $2 billion in economic, military and counter-terrorism assistance can be disbursed. Pakistan was required to have made progress in “ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistani military or its intelligence agency, to extremist groups,” especially those that have attacked U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
-- From Pakistan freed of anti-terrorism obligations; U.S. billions flow instead; McClatchy Newspapers, October 5, 2012

This follows on my October 6 post Hillary Clinton decides Americans should keep paying Pakistan's regime for its ongoing support of terrorism against Americans. Isn't this treason? and October 7 post, Lara Logan to Gen. John Allen: "American soldiers continue to die because of the support Pakistan gives to America's enemies." Allen to Logan: "You've just stated the truth.").

A reader has asked whether I was aware of Lara Logan's interview with Gen. John Allen at the time I wrote the Treason post. Yes; I saw the interview last Sunday when it first aired on CBS. I was so angry to learn from the discussion that Allen was still unable to light a fire under Washington about Islamabad's continued proxy war against U.S. troops that I didn't allow myself to write about it the time. I was afraid I'd accuse Hillary Clinton of treason. That would be a very extreme accusation to make against the U.S. Secretary of State.

I've levied the same accusation before, at different times over the years: once against Vice President Dick Cheney for his alleged role in the November 2001 Kunduz Airlift and once at President Barack Obama for his decision to place CIA personnel under the authority of Pakistan's military in choosing some armed drone targets in Pakistan.  (The practice was reportedly halted after it became news.)

I've just recalled that I didn't accuse Obama of treason because of his decision; I accused him of being a war criminal.)

Yet without ironclad evidence of a conspiracy or the official being bribed, it's virtually impossible to make a charge of treason stick to an American official -- no matter how well apprised he is that a decision of his is harmful to American interests and no matter how many Americans die as a direct result. So my earlier accusations amounted to nothing more than blowing off steam, and I knew it at the time.

But Cheney and Obama hadn't contravened a specific agreement that had been signed into U.S. law; Hillary Clinton had done so -- and without protest from Congress. And yet if Congress had wanted to block Clinton's waiver of key stipulations of the 2009 agreement between the U.S. and Pakistan, it had the means to do so, at least long enough to lauch debate on her decision. When the Obama administration attempted in late September to provide Egypt's new government with $450 million in emergency cash from a pledged $1 billion U.S. aid package to Egypt, the New York Times reported:
An influential Republican lawmaker, Representative Kay Granger of Texas, immediately announced that she would use her position as chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign aid to block the distribution of the money. She said the American relationship with Egypt “has never been under more scrutiny” than it is in the wake of the election of President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Yet in a frightening echo of the help that America's government gave Pakistan in becoming the world's biggest nuclear weapons proliferator, the U.S. Congress put up no resistance to a decision that rewards Pakistan's security establishment for its war against American troops in Afghanistan -- a war that has so far claimed more than 2,000 American lives.

Some members of Congress have tried to halt or delay U.S. aid to Pakistan. On September 10 Fox News reported that Republican Senator Rand Paul "renewed his months-long effort to compel a vote on a bill to freeze U.S. aid to Pakistan" unless Shakil Afridi -- the Pakistani physician who helped in the U.S. effort to locate Osama bin Laden -- was freed from prison:
Rand also stated, "We should not be giving foreign aid to any country that is not clearly our ally. This must end, and this week I will renew my push for a vote on this issue, including holding up Senate business to accomplish this goal."
And on September 17, Fox reported that Republican House member Ted Poe had proposed:
[A] bill that would that would take away Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, saying the country’s “treachery” has led to the deaths of too many American men and women.

“It’s time to break with Pakistan,” Poe said Friday when introducing the bill. “Pakistan is the Benedict Arnold nation in the list of countries that we call allies. It’s time to remove a designation that brings privileges it does not deserve.”

Short of revoking Pakistan’s ally status, Poe thinks the United State should at least stop giving the county quick access to sophisticated U.S. weaponry.[...]
Yet the majority of Republican lawmakers have gone along with the Bush and Obama administrations' kid-gloves treatment of Pakistan and some have even actively defended it; Democrats in Congress have done the same.

This, too, is an echo of what happened when earlier administrations aided Pakistan's nuclear weapons ambitions. There were members of Congress who did everything short of picking up weapons in the attempt to divert the White House from its course. But they couldn't get enough traction with the issue to move the American news media and public to force the most powerful members of Congress to apply pressure to the White House.

Why? The situation, which ranged over decades, is such a tangled story that maybe the best one can manage by way of answer is to say, "The Cold War."

But there is no cold war today; there is a very hot war against al Qaeda. The war is not being won by an aid policy that's consistently failed to coax Pakistan's defense establishment to halt its machinations against the United States. So for Hillary Clinton to determine that this failed policy must be continued because it's “important to the national security interests of the United States,” as she did in defending her decision to waive stipulations in the partnership agreement is -- what?

How would you characterize it? As insanity? Clinton is not insane. As carrying water for President Obama? Even if the directive actually came from Obama, a sane secretary of state doesn't rubber-stamp it when the known outcome, based on repeated history, is more deaths of American citizens.

Or would you call it a bribe to help ISAF militaries remove their materiel from Afghanistan more cheaply and quickly than by the Northern routes? And this would mean that helping U.S. allies save time and money at the expense of American lives is not treason?

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