The real reason for the Bhutto hit

2008-01-06

Richard Moore

Friends,

What an ironic headline, "U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan". How 
can it be covert if it's announced in the NY TImes? So Bhutto's convenient 
demise and the convenient unrest that followed provide the perfect excuse to the
US to come in and establish a presence in strategically-located Pakistan. We see
a similar 'convenient' scenario unfolding in Kenya, with the added bonus that a 
bit of genocide comes along with the deal. Uncle Sam rampages on.

rkm

--------------------------------------------------------
Original source URL:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/washington/06terror.html

January 6, 2008

U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan
By STEVEN LEE MYERS, DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT

This article is by Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt.

WASHINGTON ‹ President Bush¹s senior national security advisers are debating 
whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the 
military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of
Pakistan.

The debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban 
are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, several 
senior administration officials said.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of 
President Bush¹s top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to
discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy
after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir 
Bhutto. There was also talk of how to handle the period from now to the Feb. 18 
elections, and the aftermath of those elections.

Several of the participants in the meeting argued that the threat to the 
government of President Pervez Musharraf was now so grave that both Mr. 
Musharraf and Pakistan¹s new military leadership were likely to give the United 
States more latitude, officials said. But no decisions were made, said the 
officials, who declined to speak for attribution because of the highly delicate 
nature of the discussions.

Many of the specific options under discussion are unclear and highly classified.
Officials said that the options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with 
the military¹s Special Operations forces.

The Bush administration has not formally presented any new proposals to Mr. 
Musharraf, who gave up his military role last month, or to his successor as the 
army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who the White House thinks will be more 
sympathetic to the American position than Mr. Musharraf. Early in his career, 
General Kayani was an aide to Ms. Bhutto while she was prime minister and later 
led the Pakistani intelligence service.

But at the White House and the Pentagon, officials see an opportunity in the 
changing power structure for the Americans to advocate for the expanded 
authority in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country. ³After years of focusing on 
Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize ‹ 
creating chaos in Pakistan itself,² one senior official said.

The new options for expanded covert operations include loosening restrictions on
the C.I.A. to strike selected targets in Pakistan, in some cases using 
intelligence provided by Pakistani sources, officials said. Most 
counterterrorism operations in Pakistan have been conducted by the C.I.A.; in 
Afghanistan, where military operations are under way, including some with NATO 
forces, the military can take the lead.

The legal status would not change if the administration decided to act more 
aggressively. However, if the C.I.A. were given broader authority, it could call
for help from the military or deputize some forces of the Special Operations 
Command to act under the authority of the agency.

The United States now has about 50 soldiers in Pakistan. Any expanded operations
using C.I.A. operatives or Special Operations forces, like the Navy Seals, would
be small and tailored to specific missions, military officials said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was on vacation last week and did not 
attend the White House meeting, said in late December that ³Al Qaeda right now 
seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani 
government and Pakistani people.²

In the past, the administration has largely stayed out of the tribal areas, in 
part for fear that exposure of any American-led operations there would so 
embarrass the Musharraf government that it could further empower his critics, 
who have declared he was too close to Washington.

Even now, officials say, some American diplomats and military officials, as well
as outside experts, argue that American-led military operations on the Pakistani
side of the border with Afghanistan could result in a tremendous backlash and 
ultimately do more harm than good. That is particularly true, they say, if 
Americans were captured or killed in the territory.

In part, the White House discussions may be driven by a desire for another 
effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri. 
Currently, C.I.A. operatives and Special Operations forces have limited 
authority to conduct counterterrorism missions in Pakistan based on specific 
intelligence about the whereabouts of those two men, who have eluded the Bush 
administration for more than six years, or of other members of their terrorist 
organization, Al Qaeda, hiding in or near the tribal areas.

The C.I.A. has launched missiles from Predator aircraft in the tribal areas 
several times, with varying degrees of success. Intelligence officials said they
believed that in January 2006 an airstrike narrowly missed killing Mr. Zawahri, 
who had attended a dinner in Damadola, a Pakistani village. But that apparently 
was the last real evidence American officials had about the whereabouts of their
chief targets.

Critics said more direct American military action would be ineffective, anger 
the Pakistani Army and increase support for the militants. ³I¹m not arguing that
you leave Al Qaeda and the Taliban unmolested, but I¹d be very, very cautious 
about approaches that could play into hands of enemies and be 
counterproductive,² said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown 
University. Some American diplomats and military officials have also issued 
strong warnings against expanded direct American action, officials said.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a leading Pakistani military and political analyst, said 
raids by American troops would prompt a powerful popular backlash against Mr. 
Musharraf and the United States.

In the wake of the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, many Pakistanis 
suspect that the United States is trying to dominate Pakistan as well, Mr. Rizvi
said. Mr. Musharraf ‹ who is already widely unpopular ‹ would lose even more 
popular support.

³At the moment when Musharraf is extremely unpopular, he will face more crisis,²
Mr. Rizvi said. ³This will weaken Musharraf in a Pakistani context.² He said 
such raids would be seen as an overall vote of no confidence in the Pakistani 
military, including General Kayani.

The meeting on Friday, which was not publicly announced, included Stephen J. 
Hadley, Mr. Bush¹s national security adviser; Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff; and top intelligence officials.

Spokesmen for the White House, the C.I.A. and the Pentagon declined to discuss 
the meeting, citing a policy against doing so. But the session reflected an 
urgent concern that a new Qaeda haven was solidifying in parts of Pakistan and 
needed to be countered, one official said.

Although some officials and experts have criticized Mr. Musharraf and questioned
his ability to take on extremists, Mr. Bush has remained steadfast in his 
support, and it is unlikely any new measures, including direct American military
action inside Pakistan, will be approved without Mr. Musharraf¹s consent.

³He understands clearly the risks of dealing with extremists and terrorists,² 
Mr. Bush said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. ³After all, they¹ve 
tried to kill him.²

The Pakistan government has identified a militant leader with links to Al Qaeda,
Baitullah Mehsud, who holds sway in tribal areas near the Afghanistan border, as
the chief suspect behind the attack on Ms. Bhutto. American officials are not 
certain about Mr. Mehsud¹s complicity but say the threat he and other militants 
pose is a new focus. He is considered, they said, an ³Al Qaeda associate.²

In an interview with foreign journalists on Thursday, Mr. Musharraf warned of 
the risk any counterterrorism forces ‹ American or Pakistani ‹ faced in 
confronting Mr. Mehsud in his native tribal areas.

³He is in South Waziristan agency, and let me tell you, getting him in that 
place means battling against thousands of people, hundreds of people who are his
followers, the Mehsud tribe, if you get to him, and it will mean collateral 
damage,² Mr. Musharraf said.

The weeks before parliamentary elections ‹ which were originally scheduled for 
Tuesday ‹ are seen as critical because of threats by extremists to disrupt the 
vote. But it seemed unlikely that any additional American effort would be 
approved and put in place in that time frame.

Administration aides said that Pakistani and American officials shared the 
concern about a resurgent Qaeda, and that American diplomats and senior military
officers had been working closely with their Pakistani counterparts to help 
bolster Pakistan¹s counterterrorism operations.

Shortly after Ms. Bhutto¹s assassination, Adm. William J. Fallon, who oversees 
American military operations in Southwest Asia, telephoned his Pakistani 
counterparts to ensure that counterterrorism and logistics operations remained 
on track.

In early December, Adm. Eric T. Olson, the new leader of the Special Operations 
Command, paid his second visit to Pakistan in three months to meet with senior 
Pakistani officers, including Lt. Gen. Muhammad Masood Aslam, commander of the 
military and paramilitary troops in northwest Pakistan. Admiral Olson also 
visited the headquarters of the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force of about 
85,000 members recruited from border tribes that the United States is planning 
to help train and equip.

But the Pakistanis are still years away from fielding an effective 
counterinsurgency force. And some American officials, including Defense 
Secretary Gates, have said the United States may have to take direct action 
against militants in the tribal areas.

American officials said the crisis surrounding Ms. Bhutto¹s assassination had 
not diminished the Pakistani counterterrorism operations, and there were no 
signs that Mr. Musharraf had pulled out any of his 100,000 forces in the tribal 
areas and brought them to the cities to help control the urban unrest.

Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Islamabad, and David Rohde from New 
York.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
-- 

--------------------------------------------------------
Posting archives: 
http://cyberjournal.org/show_archives/?lists=newslog

Escaping the Matrix website: http://escapingthematrix.org/
cyberjournal website: http://cyberjournal.org

How We the People can change the world:
http://governourselves.blogspot.com/

Community Democracy Framework: 
http://cyberjournal.org/DemocracyFramework.html

Moderator: •••@••.•••  (comments welcome)

Share this: