Carlota Gall of the New York Times describes what — if true — must be the biggest cover up in of all of the Obama administration’s checkered history. Her article is titled “What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden”. But it is really about what the Obama administration knew that Pakistan knew about Bin Laden. The answer, as far as she can tell is that Washington knows for a fact that Osama bin Laden was Pakistan’s creature. They know it was Pakistan — or factions within it — that ran the whole war on terror.
But, she writes, the Obama administration has made a policy decision to ignore this perfidy, since to publicly acknowledge Islamabad’s guilt would force the administration to act in ways they are not prepared to act.
It took more than three years before the depth of Pakistan’s relationship with Al Qaeda was thrust into the open and the world learned where Bin Laden had been hiding, just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s top military academy. …
Soon after the Navy SEAL raid on Bin Laden’s house, a Pakistani official told me that the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The information came from a senior United States official … Colleagues at The Times began questioning officials in Washington about which high-ranking officials in Pakistan might also have been aware of Bin Laden’s whereabouts, but everyone suddenly clammed up. It was as if a decision had been made to contain the damage to the relationship between the two governments. “There’s no smoking gun,” officials in the Obama administration began to say.
The haul of handwritten notes, letters, computer files and other information collected from Bin Laden’s house during the raid suggested otherwise, however. It revealed regular correspondence between Bin Laden and a string of militant leaders who must have known he was living in Pakistan, including Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a pro-Kashmiri group that has also been active in Afghanistan, and Mullah Omar of the Taliban. Saeed and Omar are two of the ISI’s most important and loyal militant leaders. Both are protected by the agency. Both cooperate closely with it, restraining their followers from attacking the Pakistani state and coordinating with Pakistan’s greater strategic plans. Any correspondence the two men had with Bin Laden would probably have been known to their ISI handlers.
Afghanistan — Obama’s “war of necessity” — turns out in her narrative to be a squirrel, a mere distraction. Far from being a valuable strategic target Afghanistan played the role of a decoy against which America could expend what remained of its indignation at 911. It acted as political therapy where US citizens could act out their hostility and bad vibes without doing any real damage.
The whole point of luring America into Afghanistan, according to bin Laden, if Gall’s sources are to be believed, was to take the heat off Pakistan. Bin Laden wanted America to waste its energy so that when the US eventually tired, al-Qaeda could move right back in from their sanctuaries in Pakistan just as if nothing happened.
Had the SEALs not got bin Laden in Pakistan, he might have waited out the posse in his Abbotabad digs and then moved right back to Afghanistan when the US shipped out. Gall writes:
In 2009, Bin Laden reportedly traveled to Pakistan’s tribal areas to meet with the militant leader Qari Saifullah Akhtar. … At his meeting with Bin Laden in August 2009, Akhtar is reported to have requested Al Qaeda’s help in mounting an attack on the Pakistani army headquarters in Rawalpindi. … At the meeting, Bin Laden rejected Akhtar’s request for help and urged him and other militant groups not to fight Pakistan but to serve the greater cause — the jihad against America. He warned against fighting inside Pakistan because it would destroy their home base: “If you make a hole in the ship, the whole ship will go down,” he said.
No fighting in Pakistan. Better to play along with the “war of necessity” charade. Why Pakistan could pretend to be an ally and charge the U.S. exorbitant rates for the privilege of supplying its pointless military endeavor over Pakistani roads. Clever, wasn’t it?
Brilliant. Positively brilliant. Thousands of American troops dangling at the end of a lifeline ultimately controlled by the sponsors of al Qaeda wasting billions of dollars on Obama’s strategy.
If ruse it was then it was eminently successful. Gall notes that, even after the Raid, even after burying Osama at sea so as not to offend … well who? … Obama has still not identified the principal enemy as Pakistan. In fact he may never. “The United States was neither speaking out against Pakistan nor changing its policy toward a government that was exporting terrorism … after 13 years, more than a trillion dollars spent, 120,000 foreign troops deployed at the height of the war and tens of thousands of lives lost … the real enemy remains at large.” There are bigger considerations, you know.
It’s a monstrous accusation, all the more horrifying because it might well be true. Where does an American president get the power to foist a lie upon an entire nation in order to take upon himself the burden of truth so that all of his countrymen might sleep soundly in their imagined security?
Chris Edelson of the American University examines the question of whether the president may unilaterally declare peace.
President Obama has announced that the United States will not be “getting into a military excursion in Ukraine” … But, policy considerations aside, does President Obama have the constitutional authority to effectively “declare peace” against Russia? …
Hamilton reasoned that, because the power to interpret treaties (outside of litigation) and declare neutrality is not expressly assigned to any other branch, it must belong to the president as part of the executive power. He observed, however, that the President and Congress have “overlapping or concurrent powers” in this area. When the president acts first (as Washington had) by “declaring peace”, Congress is not bound to defer to the president’s decision, although Hamilton argued that Congress should consider the president’s initial action as having “establish[ed] an antecedent state of things which ought to weigh in [any subsequent] legislative decisions.” In other words, Congress should take into account what the president had done before changing course.
The example Edelson uses — coming to the aid of an ally in fulfillment of a security treaty — is entirely different from Pakistan’s situation. Russia’s actions against the Ukraine affect the United States only indirectly. By contrast the forces abetted by Pakistan are presently engaged in direct hostilities against the United States. In such cases, can the president “declare peace” with a country currently waging war against America?
Suppose another mass terrorist attack on America occurs, can he continue to withhold the material fact that he knows who done it? Or is he capable of absolving Pakistan for the second or third offense under this power to declare peace? Would it not be inconvenient, in the event of a second attack, to admit you knew who perpetrated the first attack but refrained from saying it? A second attack would portray him as an accomplice.
Of course, one may ask: who cares? The whole point is that half the voters don’t care, as long as they get their dose of reality TV and talent shows; their Obamaphones and their Obamacare. As the Martha’s Vineyard Times puts it “Planning begins for another Obama vacation”. “Like the annual return of pinkletinks and crocuses, inns and hotels around the Island are getting familiar calls this week from White House officials planning a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard for President Obama and his family.”
Maybe the real political justification for the Obama administration’s failure to name Pakistan as Osama bin Laden’s handler is that we really don’t want to know. That would complicate things and a substantial number of voters don’t want the complications. Obama can honestly say that he has a mandate to do nothing. Isn’t that the truth, the truth no one wants to admit?
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