Did Pakistan Help or Hinder? Both?


david corn white house twn 2.jpgThis just in on David Corn’s twitter feed:

Carney saying Pakistan has been helpful in general re aQ, including info used for OBL raid. #whbrief

Key words here are “in general”.
This interests me a great deal because a couple of sources the night the raid became known told me that Pakistan had helped. As time went on, it became clear that the US government had kept word of the operation away from everyone. So, what “help” means in this case is suspicious.
It seems that just like some in the Pakistan government are allies of the US in a war against the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan while others are on the opposite side, there are going to be some American government officials who kick Pakistan hard for its apparent duplicity on bin Laden while others give Pakistan an embrace for the “help” it provided.
Is it not time for LeCarre to get into this?
— Steve Clemons


15 comments on “Did Pakistan Help or Hinder? Both?

  1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    DonS… thanks for those ugly truths…I’m a Jonathan Turley fan and trust his analysis and judgment and the reality of Obama’s position on torture is one of the primary reasons for my not being a real BO supporter…I’d rather vote Green than consent to my gov’t torturing anyone….and then there are the other Busholiniisms BO continues….I’m sick at heart as a citizen and grateful for the existence of other parties… otherwise I could not vote in good conscience.


  2. Pietr Hitzig says:

    Thank you. You are the first commenter on Abbottabad that admits truth is relative. I don’t expect our government to be absolutely honest, that would be dangerous.
    I, too am an admirer of LeCarre but think that currently Charles Cumming is slightly more appropriate. His Spy by Nature deals with the realpolitick of international relationships.


  3. questions says:

    Some news of note in other off topic things —
    kos diary posts that Bradley Manning’s treatment has improved dramatically after being moved from Quanitco to Fort Leavenworth. One wonders if Obama really knew what was up before the criticisms got really loud. One also wonders if this is part of Obama’s shoring up the base on the way to 2012.
    Also, for the first time, more of us want PPACA to stay than to have it go away, according to Rasmussen. Statistical noise or….
    …the possibility that the apocalypse didn’t occur, that now that huge numbers of people have had a chance to go to their doctor and have survived to tell about it, that indeed it’s become clear that there aren’t any death panels, that granny is still on life support, that the bills get paid, that antibiotics still get overprescribed…..
    One of the big risks of political rhetoric in competitive electoral systems is that it strays so totally from the truth that even the most cognitively dissonant of us all begin to see that indeed, the world hasn’t ended.
    Gay rights did not cause the rapture. Civil rights did not cause the rapture. PPACA did not cause the rapture. And geeze, they actually finally caught Bin Laden. So, no, the overheated rhetoric of the Gingrich-move-to-the-base strategy doesn’t match reality at all.
    Now if we could deal with our national race hang ups eventually, there just might not be much left for the Republicans to campaign on…..
    Of course, we have a long way to go on that one.
    I’ll go build a landing strip in the hopes that it happens soon! (Activism is all about building landing strips. Defying temporal order is the practice of political hope. Sometimes hope causes backlashes and the giant stone rolls all the way down the hill again. But then we roll it up once more. Or we build more landing strips, to mix metaphors!)


  4. questions says:

    DeLong, cargo cults, rent-seeking and offshoring, and the democrats and religion (not sure Bin Laden or Pakistan will make it in!):
    “The problem is that Williamson is confusing the direction of causation–and thus committing himself to cargo-cult macroeconomics with his claim that the way to reduce inflation is to permanently reduce nominal interest rates. The cargo cults of the South Pacific noted a strong correlation during World War II between (a) the existence of airstrips, and (b) cargo airplanes landing and disgorging huge amounts of consumer goods. They thought it was worth trying to see whether this relationship was causal: would building airstrips cause cargo planes to appear and land? ”
    After reading this, going to the earlier post of DeLong’s on cargo cults, reading Wiki on cargo cults, I now have a thought.
    First, cargo cults would seem to be somewhere in the “if you build it they will come” part of the world. It’s religious or somehow related to how we relate to what is bigger than we are when we know we are indeed related to what is bigger than we are but we don’t know HOW we’re related to such things. It’s probably somewhere in Rumsfeld’s epistemic catalogue — unknowable hopables or something.
    Second, rent-seeking behavior (and offshoring) would seem to be the counter to cargo cults in that first they come and then you take their money and you don’t any longer think about building anything at all. Mostly, you shrink service, buy up the competitors, and make the gallon of oj transmogrify into 59 ounces. You make money on the deal. Then you send the money elsewhere, untaxed.
    Infrastructure and investment would seem to be a whole lot like cargo cultish behavior. If you build these roads, the future profits will come. If you get rid of the rust, the future will move faster. If you have shiny things, shiny will come. We love shiny.
    Shiny is a deity. The wait for shiny, the building for shiny, the transportation of shiny, the green-ification of shiny — these are primarily theological acts. Put money in the pot and miraculously it will become more money, and more shiny.
    The dems seem to do the infrastructure rain dance, while the Repubs seem to do the rent seeking. The dems, atheists one and all, are closet deificationists, while the rent-seekers, conservative Christians one and all (not really) would seem to be atheists, without hope, without worrying about the future as a project to be built.
    So what do we do if all the infrastructure we build doesn’t make “them” arrive? What if we have a bunch of landing strips, a bunch of insulated houses, a bunch of shiny roads and railways, a bunch of bike lanes, a bunch of shiny kitchens and baths, and for all that shining city on a hill stuff, we have debt, consolidation, fewer households, fewer miles traveled…..
    Is there a way to know for sure that when we build it they will come?
    Or do we really need to seek rents and offshore them for safe keeping?
    Do these two worldviews so contradict one another that we cannot seek both simultaneously? When one starts gaining power, the other partially dismantles it? Is this our pendulum?
    Should I build a landing strip, just in case?
    (Ok, no Pakistan reference, so this is just off topic….)
    (And I don’t know about showing the pictures of Bin Laden’s mashed, shot up, bloody, disfigured face. Transparency is great stuff. The pictures of torture victims will either incite or not. The birth cert either worked or didn’t. Maybe testimony of family members might be a better tack? But if they are all female, there’s a problem there, too. And who’s gonna believe the ISI’s sworn testimony at this point? Oh, and isn’t there a posthumous tape coming out soon?)


  5. DonS says:

    In the aftermath of OBL’s death, torture is again being “debated”, no matter that the actual facts indicate torture-derived intel was unrelated to the events, or that, regardless, torture is a crime.
    Johnathan Turley:
    “In the end, it is distressing to see Obama officials so quickly seek to legitimate torture. The President has admitted that waterboarding is torture. Torture is a war crime. Yet, here officials are seeking to immediately shape the story in terms of the value of torture.”
    Also, Turley, in USA Today (via Americablog), reminds us of the legacy of overreaction to 911 that has, apparently permanently, eroded our civil liberties, and given us the unchecked national security state:
    “What has been most chilling is that the elimination of Saddam and now bin Laden has little impact on this system, which seems to continue like a perpetual motion machine of surveillance and searches. While President Dwight D. Eisenhower once warned Americans of the power of the military-industrial complex, we now have a counterterrorism system that employs tens of thousands, spends tens of billions of dollars each year and is increasingly unchecked in its operations.
    “Just as leaders are unwilling to take responsibility to end the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, we face the same vacuum of leadership on civil liberties. Whether it is groping at airports or warrantless surveillance or the denial of rights to accused terrorists, our security laws will continue to be justified under a “war on terror” that by definition can never end. There will always be terrorism, and thus we will remain a nation at war


  6. questions says:

    Useful details, some useful speculation, too:
    Including: one of Bin Laden’s kids, a 12 year old, says he was shot (pretty awful when you think about it); perhaps the “no Pakistan didn’t know a thing” is a cover for Pakistan’s knowing all kinds of things; and he had Euros and phone numbers on him, the speculation being that he was ready to run at a moment’s notice.
    I think Rumsfeld’s epistemology needs categories of the Pakistani kind added to it. I don’t even want to try to name the categories given the levels of knowing and not-knowing in official and unofficial ways.


  7. questions says:

    And the DeLong award for contextualization of everything that must be contextualized in order for us to know anything at all goes, of course, to DeLong himself for this:
    ” Brad, not every question is best answered with a 10 minute economic history lecture.
    But most are.”
    (Meant to put this up last night, but forgot. Ezra Klein also flags it.”
    So, for Pakistan, we need a 10 minute lecture on political history and domestic politics.
    For everything, there’s a 10 or 30 minute lecture that gives us a context.
    For every context, there’s a 10 or 30 minute lecture on whether or not the metaphorical relation is a sound one, or if the situation is unique and therefore not subject to contextualization of the historical or political kind.
    Analysts and political workers of all sorts need some grounding in their metaphors, in their contexts. Such a grounding might help with the Pareene Awards.
    DeLong as antidote to Pareene????


  8. questions says:

    The First Ever Pareene Award for capturing the essence of Republican thinking goes to (cue drum roll….) PAREENE!
    Every bit of cognitive dissonance is captured for all of us to see.
    The fundamental belief in their own superiority meets the fundamental fact that the world is not what they think it is, and yet they maintain their belief in themselves.
    As for Pakistan, it’s not even cognitive dissonance. It’s simply a fact of the world. It’s a split society, a split government, and yes, there was support for UBL along with a need to make the US happy, defeat India, stay in power, make factions happy…..


  9. Sand says:

    “…Is it not time for LeCarre to get into this?…”
    Ok then! I’ll offer this:
    John le Carr


  10. Sand says:

    “…Is it not time for LeCarre to get into this?…”
    or Sibel Edmonds even?


  11. JohnH says:

    Pakistani involvement was almost certain. If fact, it smells like the US and Pakistan did a deal. Pakistan was probably holding Bin Laden as the ultimate bargaining chip. But for a long time, the US wasn’t particularly interested, because Bin Laden was more valuable alive than dead as the justification for vast military expenditures. So, Pakistan just kept him until the appropriate time, which is now.
    Obama knows he needs to show some significant troop reduction, or his electoral base will desert him. To achieve this, he had to deal a pre-emptive blow to the bloodthirsty right wing media narrative. Eliminating Bin Laden as an issue reduces the effectiveness of the screamers’ message of fear. You can already hear Fox trying to recalibrate its paranoia.
    So Obama did a deal. Negotiations with the Taliban will proceed. Troop reductions will occur, starting in two months, in quantities large enough to placate the base while minimizing the overreaction of rabid militarists. But the end is nowhere in sight.
    The question here is, what did Pakistan get? Guarantees that Afghanistan will not align with India? A strategic partnership with the US, replacing their lackey status?
    IMHO the whole escapade smells like the “dramatic rescue” of Jessica Lynch or of the “Iraqi masses” who supposedly toppled the statue of Saddam…the real event being considerably less heroic than the made-for-media version.
    The military is the main beneficiary of the escapade. It now bathed in glory, something it has been desperately seeking after years of pointless war and the absence of any tangible achievement. The race is on for Hollywood to make the movie version, giving what the militarists hope will be a much needed infusion of support and increased funding for their merchants of death.


  12. Don Bacon says:

    It’s wrong to assume, as many do, that Pakistan’s security interests coincide with those of the U.S. Pakistan doesn’t share the U.S. fondness for India, for just one example. In fact they are mortal enemies, and Pakistan resents the U.S. promotion of India interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s most reliable ally is China, not the U.S. and certainly not India.
    While Obama proclaimed in December 2009 that Pakistan is a U.S. partner, everybody knows that instead of a partner it’s supposed to act as a servant. Pakistan doesn’t like that role, especially when the U.S. has made it plain that India is the U.S. partner in that part of Asia. Pakistan is not Australia or Japan, two countries on that side of the earth that the U.S. IS able to control.


  13. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    A lot more suspicious things than the word “help”. If Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris and former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit is correct, the CIA is minus one “asset” now. Color me cynical.


  14. Paul Norheim says:

    Or Salman Rushdie:
    But why a writer? Why not just an ordinary lie detector?
    Ahem, let’s see…here’s some of the statements:
    Pakistan had helped the Americans capture OBL.
    Correction: Pakistan had not helped the Americans capture OBL.
    OBL (that coward!) used a woman as human shield.
    Correction: OBL (that coward!) did not use a woman as human shield.
    OBL fired back.
    Correction: OBL (that coward!) was unarmed.
    The Americans used two helicopters.
    Correction: They used four helicopters.
    One helicopter down due to mechanical problems.
    Correction: ……………….?
    One of OBL’s wives was killed during the operation.
    Correction: She was not killed. Just injured.
    OBL was “buried” in the sea.
    Correction: …………………..?
    They had the order to kill OBL (that coward!).
    Correction: Kill or capture OBL.
    Correction: Capture or kill (and/or capture) OBL.
    Now, if there is anything in this narrative that hasn’t been corrected yet, we’ll get the corrections tomorrow. Or ten years
    from now.


  15. non-hater says:

    In all likelihood, both – but by different factions at different times. Heck, probably each different faction has both helped and hindered the US search for al-Qaeda at different times.


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