Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Musharraf #??? at Amazon
So much news it's hard to pack it all in.
(sorry that's the best opening i can muster as i try to absorb the 101 stories breaking every which way but loose in the midst of a massive public relations blitz accompanying a Military coup leader's visit to America, while questions about harboring, selling nukes or surrendering to terrorists are confined to outposts on the Internet instead of on the front pages where they belong)
Regarding Sunday's 60 Minutes interview with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, from the Pak Tribune:
The Bush administration is "very satisfied" and "quite comfortable" with the way Islamabad has handled the issue of nuclear scientist A Q Khan’s proliferation network, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said.....
President Musharraf brushed aside the suspicion that since no one in the outside world has been allowed to talk to Khan because he may have something to say about the participation of the Pakistani army in the sale of nuclear technology.
"That is absolutely not the case. The President or Mr. George Tenet, they are very satisfied and they are quite comfortable with what we have done," Musharraf remarked making the point that Pakistani people would not have tolerated a long trial and prison sentence for A.Q.Khan.
From Monday's Today show interview with Musharraf regarding the "Stone Age" comment:
Well, Richard Armitage is a good friend of mine. But whatever happened that day was told to me by my director general of ISI, my intelligence boss, who was here. I didn't have a contact with Mr. Armitage. It was only the statement given to me by the DGISI. And I clarified this thing in the book.
From Musharraf's In the Line of Fire: A Memoir, as excerpted at the Times Online:
When I was back in Islamabad the next day, our director-general of Inter Services Intelligence, who happened to be in Washington, told me on the phone about his meeting with the US deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage. In what has to be the most undiplomatic statement ever made, Armitage added to what Colin Powell had said to me and told the director-general not only that we had to decide whether we were with America or with the terrorists, but that if we chose the terrorists, then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age.
This was a shockingly barefaced threat, but it was obvious that the United States had decided to hit back, and hit back hard.....
This was a ruthless analysis which I made for the sake of my country. Richard Armitage’s undiplomatic language, regrettable as it was, had nothing to do with my decision. The United States would do what it had to do in its national interest, and we would do what we had to in ours. Self-interest and self-preservation were the basis of this decision. Needless to say, though, I felt very frustrated by Armitage’s remarks. It goes against the grain of a soldier not to be able to tell anyone giving him an ultimatum to go forth and multiply, or words to that effect.
Back to Musharraf's interview with Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show:
MR. LAUER: Obviously it's generated a lot of attention for the book. But in Andrea Mitchell's piece, she said this is more about what's happening in Pakistan than what happened in that meeting after 9/11. She says it's your own or some people say it's your way of saving your skin back home, that you need to be able to say to the groups in your country -- and, by the way, you write in your book that a majority of people in Pakistan disagree with your cooperation with the United States in this war on terror -- this is your way of saying to them, "I'm cooperating with the United States, but only because they pointed a gun at my head."
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: No, not at all. That's not the case. It is very clear, and I explained in the book, that we did whatever we did in the interest of Pakistan. I'm not doing anything specifically for the interest of others. Basically it is in Pakistan's interest that I took the decision, and not in any -- and it's not the case of somebody pointing the gun on my head or anything.
Please. Enough with this nonsense. The Bush Administration was friendly with Musharraf before and after 9/11.
But I did get a kick out of this opening line from a Times of India article:
Pervez Musharraf may be a commando by training, but he still might not want to run into former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, a Vietnam vet (three combat tours) who is rumoured to bench press 400 lbs, in a dark alley.
These parts, too:
"It will be noted that President Musharraf made this comment while he is beginning a book tour," Armitage said on the sidelines of a US-South Korea Security Forum in Seoul. "I think you have ample reason to see why he might want to use this language. I think it probably sells books."
Meanwhile, according to the Pakistani media, Mahmoud Ahmed spoke to Musharraf on phone from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington after his meeting with Armitage the message he broadly conveyed in Urdu was "wo hamari eent se eent baja dey gain". Roughly translated, it means, they will take us apart brick by brick.
Now on to the important stuff.
From Times Online:
President Musharraf of Pakistan says that the CIA has secretly paid his government millions of dollars for handing over hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects to America.
The US government has strict rules banning such reward payments to foreign powers involved in the war on terror. General Musharraf does not say how much the CIA gave in return for the 369 al-Qaeda figures that he ordered should be passed to the US.
The US Department of Justice said: “We didn’t know about this. It should not happen. These bounty payments are for private individuals who help to trace terrorists on the FBI’s most wanted list, not foreign governments.”
The revelation comes from General Musharraf’s memoir, In the Line of Fire, which begins serialisation in The Times today and will further embarrass the White House at a time when relations between the US and Pakistan are already strained.
It's the Times Online which should be embarrassed. Because they completely miss the bigger picture.
After all, despite the rhetoric, most of the men at Guantanamo, or at least the 132 with court records and the 314 with redacted transcripts, came into American custody by way of third parties who had their own motivations for turning people in, including paybacks and payoffs.....
Some of the men at Guantanamo came from targeted, U.S.-guided raids in Pakistani cities, and the cases against those men tend to be fairly strong. But the largest single group at Guantanamo Bay today consists of men caught in indiscriminate sweeps for Arabs in Pakistan. Once arrested, these men passed through several captors before being given to the U.S. military. Some of the men say they were arrested after asking for help getting to their embassies; a few say the Pakistanis asked them for bribes to avoid being turned over to America.....
"The one thing we were never clear of was where they came from," Scheuer said of the Guantanamo detainees. "DOD picked them up somewhere." When National Journal told Scheuer that the largest group came from Pakistani custody, he chuckled. "Then they were probably people the Pakistanis thought were dangerous to Pakistan," he said. "We absolutely got the wrong people."
As the Times Online could have put it, "We absolutely bought the wrong people."
A little bit more from that National Review stunner which no mainstream media outfit has ever bothered to adequately follow up on:
Tribes in the border region and operatives in Pakistan's intelligence service were historically sympathetic to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Almost certainly, they aided senior Qaeda and Taliban members fleeing Afghanistan. At the same time, Islamabad was eager to strengthen its new alliance with Washington. The Americans wanted prisoners, and nobody was looking too closely at who those prisoners were.
Add a healthy dollop of cash spread around by both hunters and prey, and a U.S. military bureaucracy dedicated to protecting Americans against a threat from an unfamiliar corner of the world, and you have an unsettling formula for determining who got caught and who got away. It was "win-win," Haqqani said. "The Americans get their prisoners, Pakistanis get their praise, the guy who captures the prisoners gets his reward, and Al Qaeda gets its escape."