Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pakistan arrests CIA informants (?)

Pakistan has come under severe criticism here in the US for evidence of sub rosa support of the radical elements in the country that aid & abet the Taliban & al Qaeda.  (The Taliban, after all, were created in Pakistan in order to gain some control over the chaos in post-Soviet Afghanistan).

The news hitting us this morning speaks of arrests of Pakistanis who might have assisted us in the take-down of Usama bin Laden in Abbotabad, & reveals some element of pay-back which, if true, carries it beyond whether Hillary Clinton or ADM Mullen may be disposed to work a little harder to assauge hurt feelings on the part of the Pakistani government.

A little background: the US intelligence system was dealt a serious blow during the Carter administration in the late 1970s (while the military was still reeling from the reduction-in-force or RIF cutbacks from the Viet Nam War) with the decision to practically eliminate the human intelligence (HUMINT) system.  The idea was that we could rely almost exclusively on our technology (such as satellites) to gather the accurate information that we would need, & forego having to sully our hands by dealing with actual people on the inside of inimical governments.  That did more than cut loose our agents & sources - it placed them in grave & sometimes lethal danger (& there is more to be said on that topic).

Here again we see that same danger arising - one of the key aspects of developing a source such as these is your assurances that they will be protected to the extent that we can.  The feeling that we abandon our friends & allies (such as South Viet Nam on a strategic scale) results in a severe distrust on the part of those who want to side with us against their oppresive regimes, but who nevertheless feel that they are entering into a deadly fool's bargain by cooperating with us.

The immediate denial by the Pakistanis adds a fillip of complexity to the story, but cuts Pakistan's way nonetheless.  If the denial is true, it puts a good face on them in their dealings with us, but still sends a message that has a chilling effect on anyone who wants to help the United States in this fight with Islamic Supremacists who are just as much their enemy as ours.  This civil cold war within Pakistan then leans to the side of the Taliban.

A Pakistani source among others reported that Defense Secretary Bob Gates, though not actually confirming the reports, today spoke to Congress as if they were, saying that this "is a reflection of the harsh realities of today’s world".

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