ISI Chief Summoned To Washington

ISI chief in Washington

It is being reported that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha has left for the US, where it is expected the head of the most formidable institution of the country will have a lot of explaining to do. This trip comes on the heels of the execution of the most wanted man on the planet, Osama bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda. That he was found living in Pakistan, and that too what seems to have been under the nose of the military establishment, has invited plenty of American ire and outrage at home. This visit of the ISI head to Washington does not come as much of a surprise therefore as a ‘summons’ was to be expected from Pakistan’s major aid donor and the chief sponsor of the war on terror. Pakistan has found itself in a deeply embarrassing position and the ISI and military will need to answer some very probing questions. The rumour mill has cited that the Osama incident requires accountability and at least some heads to roll. This Washington visit, therefore, is being seen by some as possibly Pasha’s last. Whether the ISI chief is asked to resign or not only time will tell as jumping to conclusions will only further complicate an already murky matter.
As far as premature judgements are concerned, too many have been reached already and the entire Bin Laden episode requires a certain degree of introspection. Yes, the country is in extremely precarious waters what with an angry US to contend with, a confused public to answer to and an entire network of militants – the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – vowing revenge on the country. However, are we not jumping the gun just a little bit? Even though bin Laden was found in a garrison town, is it not true that a person who does not want to be found will achieve, to some extent, that goal? Reports claim that he was holed up in the Abbottabad compound for some five years and during all that time he was not seen by any local residents as he did not venture out. When dealing with elements who remain invisible, painstaking intelligence work and some element of luck is required to track them down. And these necessary elements came together in the shape of the courier who led the US authorities to bin Laden.
When it comes to the blame game, shifting the entire weight of responsibility onto the ISI’s shoulders seems a bit unfair. While the ISI claims it had no clue that the terror chief was hiding in their backyard, which is testimony to a fair deal of incompetence, the US too has been hunting a solitary man for the last decade, could not trace him in an ally’s territory for over five years despite being tipped off by the ISI about the Abbotabad compound and, when it did locate him, made sure no intel was shared with the ISI. It seems that our establishment was left out in the cold. Now that the blame game looks set to escalate, it is advisable that both strategic partners not get too hot under the collar and think in terms of the greater strategic picture. Investigations are going to be conducted in Pakistan to figure out the lapses in intelligence and security and it is likely that some people will be made answerable. However, what is really needed is some quiet dialogue in Washington that aims to salvage the ruptured relationship between the US and Pakistan because the overall costs otherwise will be too high for both sides. Both countries have invested too much in the fight against terrorism and need to move ahead without getting bogged down in a war of words.
For its part, Pakistan must discard its love affair with its jihadi proxies and move ahead wholeheartedly to root out the extremists. The US will want bigger gains, and that could provide Pakistan with the opportunity to redeem itself in the eyes of the world. *

US demands Pakistan disclose names of ISI operatives

US demands Pakistan disclose names of ISI operatives


* NYT report says US has expressed frustration with Pak army for refusal to identify ISI members who had ‘close ties with Osama’

WASHINGTON: The administration of US President Barack Obama has demanded the identities of some of the top Pakistani intelligence operatives as the United States tries to determine whether any of them had contact with Osama Bin Laden, The New York Times reported late Friday.

Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said members of the US administration had expressed deep frustration with the Pakistani military and intelligence for their refusal to identify members of the agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, who were believed to have close ties to Bin Laden.

In particular, US officials have demanded information on what is known as the ISI’s S directorate, which has worked closely with militants since the days of the fight against the Soviet army in Afghanistan, the report said.

Contradictory Western signals

[SEE: US presses Pakistan on Bin Laden]

U.S. takes heat off Pakistan on bin Laden’s hideout

By Donna Smith and Zeeshan Haider

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD

(Reuters) – The Obama administration took some heat off Pakistan on Sunday, saying it had no evidence that Islamabad knew Osama bin Laden was living in the country before he was killed by U.S. commandos in a garrison town a short drive from the capital.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is scheduled to “take the nation into confidence” in parliament on Monday, his first statement to the people more than a week after the attack embarrassed the country and raised fears of a new rift between Islamabad and Washington.

Suspicion has deepened that Pakistan’s pervasive Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, which has a long history of contacts with militant groups, may have had ties with the al Qaeda leader — or that some of its agents did.

Pakistan has dismissed such suggestions and says it has paid the highest price in human life and money supporting the U.S. war on militancy launched after bin Laden’s followers staged the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The U.S. national security adviser said that while bin Laden’s residence for several years in a compound in Abbottabad, 30 miles north of Islamabad, “needs to be investigated,” there was nothing to suggest the government or security establishment knew he was there.

“I can tell you directly that I’ve not seen evidence that would tell us that the political, the military, or the intelligence leadership had foreknowledge of bin Laden,” Tom Donilon told NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked if Pakistan was guilty of harboring the al Qaeda leader.

“How could this have happened in Pakistan?” Donilon said. “We need to investigate it. We need to work with the Pakistanis. And we’re pressing the Pakistanis on this investigation.”

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, told ABC’s “This Week” his government would act on the results of the investigation.

“And heads will roll, once the investigation has been completed. Now, if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you. And if, God forbid, somebody’s complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that, as well.”

DOUBTS ABOUT BIN LADEN’S INFLUENCE

Donilon said Pakistani officials also needed to provide U.S. authorities with intelligence they had gathered from the compound where bin Laden was killed, and access to his three wives who are in Pakistani custody.

But he added that despite difficulties in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, “We’ve also had to work very closely with Pakistan in our counter-terror efforts. More terrorists and extremists have been captured or killed in Pakistan than anyplace else.”

Pakistani security officials reacted with skepticism to a U.S. assertion that bin Laden was actively engaged in directing his far-flung network from his compound in Abbottabad where he was killed on May 2.

Washington has said that, based on a trove of documents the size of a small college library and computer equipment seized in the raid, bin Laden’s hideout was an “active command and control center” for al Qaeda where he was involved in plotting future attacks on the United States.

Pakistani officials said the fact that there was no internet connection or even telephone line into the compound where the world’s most-wanted man was hiding raised doubts about his centrality to al Qaeda.

“It sounds ridiculous,” said a senior Pakistani intelligence official. “It doesn’t sound like he was running a terror network.”

Analysts have long maintained that, years before bin Laden’s death, al Qaeda had fragmented into a decentralized group that operated tactically without him.

“It’s bullshit,” said a senior Pakistani security official, when quizzed on a U.S. intelligence official’s assertion that bin Laden had been “active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions” of the Islamist militant group from his hideout.

On Saturday, the White House released five video clips of bin Laden taken from the compound, most of them showing the al Qaeda leader, his beard dyed black, evidently rehearsing the video-taped speeches he sometimes distributed to his followers.

None of the videos was released with sound. A U.S. intelligence official said it had been removed because the United States did not want to transmit bin Laden’s propaganda. But he said they contained the usual criticism of the United States as well as capitalism.

While several video segments showed him rehearsing, one showed an aging and grey-bearded bin Laden in a scruffy room, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a ski cap while watching videotapes of himself.

“This compound in Abbottabad was an active command and control center for al Qaeda’s top leader and it’s clear … that he was not just a strategic thinker for the group,” the U.S. intelligence official said in Washington. “He was active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions.”

Donilon reiterated the assertion on Sunday talk shows, telling NBC: “Osama bin Laden …had an operational and strategic direction role,” in al Qaeda.

DUELING NARRATIVES

The dueling narratives of bin Laden reflect both Washington’s and Islamabad’s interests in peddling their own versions of bin Laden’s hidden life behind the walls of his compound.

Stressing bin Laden’s weakness makes his discovery just a few minutes’ walk from a military academy less embarrassing for Pakistan, but playing up his importance makes the U.S. operation all the more victorious.

The competing claims came as senior Pakistani officials said bin Laden may have lived in Pakistan for more than seven years before he was shot dead.

One of bin Laden’s widows, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, told investigators bin Laden and his family had spent five years in Abbottabad.

Abdulfattah, along with two other wives and several children, were among 15 or 16 people detained by Pakistani authorities at the compound after the raid.

She said that before Abbottabad, bin Laden had stayed in a nearby village for nearly two-and-a-half years.

Residents of the village of Chak Shah Mohammad, at the end of a bumpy road flanked by fields of wheat, were both puzzled and a little scared to find themselves at the focus of the investigation.

“Everyone in the village knows when a cow has a calf so how could bin Laden and his family hide here?” Mohammad Naseer, a 65-year-old retired soldier, said as he took a break from working his fields. “I can say for sure he wasn’t here.”

(Additional reporting by Kamran Haider in Chak Shah Mohammad and Chris Allbritton in Islamabad; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Rob Birsel)

2 blasts heard in town where bin Laden killed–(NOT the Compound)

2 blasts heard in town where bin Laden killed

AP

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan – Witnesses say two loud explosions have rocked the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid.

The source of the blasts were not immediately clear. An Associated Press team at the compound where bin Laden was living before the April 29 raid saw no signs of unusual activity Sunday.

There had been speculation that authorities might demolish the house in Abbottabad to try to stop the intense media attention on the town.

Novice Repuglican Taken-In By Photo-shopped Bin Laden Photos, Admits Error

[Who is responsible for tying old photo-shopped bin Laden image with news report of alleged raid?  Much like the faked radiation map that was released during the beginning of the Fukushima disaster, it seems that there are unscrupulous individuals intent on taking advantage of our initial shocks, by supplying bogus "proof" of the evidence we seek.  The Internet represents so much opportunity to effect the proper changes, yet it is so polluted by deceivers, that one must question every bit of "proof" which comes our way.]

Mass. Democrats want Scott Brown to explain photo comments

By Glen Johnson, Globe Staff

The Massachusetts Democratic Party issued a statement today saying Senator Scott Brown “owes” Massachusetts residents an explanation after the Republican asserted — and then retracted — that he had seen postmortem photos of Osama bin Laden.

scott_brown.jpg

Senator Scott Brown

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Brown owes the people of Massachusetts more details as to what led him to believe that he was shown an authentic photo, and then what led him to feel comfortable enough to speak out publicly about the photo,” party Chairman John Walsh said in a statement.”He needs — right away, today — to provide answers to the following questions: who showed him the fake photo; who told him it was genuine when it wasn’t; and what are the procedures he uses to make sure he has reliable information before he gives voters that information?” Walsh added.

The chairman said the senator needs to “understand that his words matter, and his assertions are taken at face value because of his position.”

Brown spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom replied: “With the Sal DiMasi corruption trial going on, I’m surprised that John Walsh has the time to criticize Republicans.”

Government officials say the photos depict bin Laden with a fatal wound over his left eye after being shot by US forces early Monday during a raid on the terrorist’s compound in Pakistan.

Despite a fervent debate in the country about whether the photos should be released to prove bin Laden’s death, President Obama announced yesterday he would not authorize their release because he did not want to “spike the football” after the successful raid or do anything perceived as further agitating the country’s opponents.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government transparency group that became a national force with lawsuits it filed against former President Clinton, has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Department of Defense and the CIA seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.”

Brown said earlier yesterday during an interview with NECN he believed the photos should not be released to ‘‘sell newspapers.’’

‘‘Let me assure you that he is dead, that bin Laden is dead,’’ Brown said in the interview. ‘‘I have seen the photos and, in fact, we’ve received the briefings and we’ll continue to get the briefings.’’

Brown echoed the sentiment in a separate interview with WFXT-TV (Channel 25).

The freshman senator later acknowledged that he had fallen victim to a hoax, apparently the same doctored images that were making the rounds on the Internet.

‘‘The photo that I saw and that a lot of other people saw is not authentic,’’ the senator said in a one-sentence statement issued hours after the interviews aired.

Brown’s aides declined to explain who showed him the fake photos, why he believed the photos were real, and why he had suggested he had seen them as part of an official briefing.

At least two other members of the Armed Services Committee, Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, and Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, also claimed to have seen photos of the body.

Senators, however, were not shown the photos during a closed-door hearing this week held for members of the Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, according to an official briefed on the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

Brown is up for re-election in 2012 and Massachusetts Democrats have been gearing up to oppose him.

Globe reporter Michael Levenson contributed to this story. Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.

Unencrypted Computers Confirms Amateurish Nature of “Al-Qaeda”

[If they manage to somehow show some sort of visual proof that it was really bin Laden in Abbottabad, then it would confirm that it was an assassination mission, not a capture mission.  We would have sent in a kill team for bin Laden, because we could not afford to take him alive.  If taken alive, he would have been interogated, where he would gladly have recounted all his experiences serving the CIA. 

The only thing “astonishing” about the fact that the seized computers had “unencrypted” information about “al-Qaeda,” is that it proves the amateurish nature of the “al -Qaeda” organization.  It is NOT a professional military/terrorist global organization, but a ragtag consortium of terrorists, a few of which, own their own laptops and have Internet skills.

“Al-Qaeda” is not, and never was, a massive global terror organization, but a bunch of pissed-off Middle Eastern veterans of America’s covert wars, under the joint command of bin Laden (Al Badr Brigades) and Zawahiri (Egyptian Islamic Jihad), who were intent on getting some “pay-back” for abandonment after service to Empire in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Downgrade the threat, from a massive global militant conspiracy of “international terrorism,” capable of destroying the United States (even if taking advantages of our weaknesses and contradictions), to a small cadre of a few hundred or a few thousand war veterans who want “back pay,” or pay-back, whichever they can get.  

Get the US to admit that the terrorists first acquired their skills under CIA tutelage, and their first combat experiences in covert American wars.  American officials must admit that they have inflated the threat of American-trained terrorists/militants, to suit the war narrative of a nation under “Islamist” seige.]

Bin Laden: was America right?

BY TREVOR ROYLE, DIPLOMATIC EDITOR

FROM the moment the CIA informed the White House that Osama bin Laden was dead, President Barack Obama found that he had a massive problem on his hands.

It was one thing to terminate the life of the country’s “most wanted” but dealing with the aftermath has created all manner of thorny moral and legal issues, including the vexed issue of using torture against terrorist suspects.

Even before the euphoria began to evaporate, the extent of the problem became obvious to senior officials in the administration. Bin Laden was dead – that was the message – but from the outset a large question mark hung over the management of the operation. Everything pointed to the fact that this was a “kill” mission in which bin Laden was unlikely to be taken alive.

It did not help that, from the outset, the US got the story wrong. Initial press briefings indicated that bin Laden was shot while resisting arrest, and that other casualties were caused during the firefight. An added embellishment suggested that bin Laden’s Yemeni-born wife, Amal Ahmed Abdullfattah, had attempted to shield him. The aim was to discredit the al-Qaeda leader and to portray him as being isolated and weak, but as further facts were released another story began to emerge.

By the end of the week US officials conceded that only one of the five people in bin Laden’s entourage offered any resistance and that bin Laden himself was unarmed. This was confirmed by Pakistani intelligence sources who claimed on Friday that bin Laden and his associates had not offered any “significant resistance” when US Seals entered the compound because stun grenades had been used to disorientate them. The only weapons found in the compound were a single AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun.

Under the rules of war it is illegal to shoot a combatant who has surrendered. Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention states that “prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation”, but this is frequently overlooked in the heat of the moment.

If passions are running high it is all too easy to ignore the offer of surrender with the ruthless comment “too late chum”.

In bin Laden’s case that scenario would not apply – he was not using armed force to resist arrest. By the same token he did not return fire or use the offer of surrender to gain an advantage. The US later admitted that the members of the commando team were told only to attempt arrest if he was unclothed and therefore not wearing a suicide bomb vest.

The conclusion must be that the special forces were under orders to shoot first and ask questions later, probably because bin Laden was considered to be a vicious terrorist beyond redemption. As the philosopher Erich Fromm explained this phenomenon, “making the enemy a non-person removes the human sense of empathy”.

Inevitably, the peremptory despatch sparked a debate over whether the US special forces had the right to kill bin Laden. Among those who raised the question was Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, who stated that “the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling”. However this important moral issue was quickly overtaken by a fresh discussion about the use of torture during the interrogation of the key informers who provided the bulk of the evidence for uncovering bin Laden’s hiding place.

Within hours of the announcement US supporters of “enhanced interrogation methods” made noisy claims that the operation’s success was due to exposing suspects to illegal torture procedures including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and repeated use of stress positions. Practised during the Bush administration but banned by President Barack Obama, these methods were held up to be the reason why the CIA was able to get hold of the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, an al-Qaeda courier who appeared to have access to bin Laden’s inner circle.

To torture apologists everywhere it seemed to prove that “harsh interrogation” works. Except that in this case the reverse seems to have been true. According to sources within the US intelligence community the breakthrough came through conventional interrogation techniques used against a Pakistan-born detainee called Hassan Ghul.

Although he was held in a CIA “black site” prison he was not subjected to aggressive procedures and his admissions came from standard interrogation techniques.

On the other hand, waterboarding was definitely used in 2003 against another key suspect, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but it was his refusal to talk that led investigators to believe that he was shielding the courier. Only when he was subjected to pronged questioning did he confirm al-Kuwaiti’s name and identity.

Interestingly, the US Army Field Manual governing operational practice in combat warns that “torture and inhumane treatment is ineffective”, and this seems to be the received opinion in the US armed forces.

Ironically the real test of the efficacy of torture would have come if bin Laden had been taken alive. If he had been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” the odds are that, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he would not have cracked and little would have been gained – apart from some sadistic satisfaction at seeing him get his just desserts. Instead greater value has come from some simple police work and some elementary mistakes on al-Qaeda’s part.

When the US special forces withdrew from the compound in Abbottabad they took with them bin Laden’s computer hard drive and other electronic storage devices. All of them contained priceless information about al-Qaeda and, astonishingly, none of it had been encrypted.

As a CIA operative admitted late last week, this is the real treasure trove – and what is more, it was acquired without the use of violence.

‘‘Making the enemy a non-person removes the human sense of empathy’’