• Toby Ziegler: Why's a test-ban treaty so important? Let me tell you. In 1974, India set off a peaceful nuclear explosion. Indira Gandhi herself said they had no intention of building a bomb, they just wanted to know that they could. Twenty years later India sets off five nuclear explosions. Who gets nervous? Pakistan. And when Pakistan gets nervous, everybody get nervous. You know why? 'Cause we're all gonna die.
shortformblog:

Osama bin Laden’s compound currently getting destroyed: The place where the al-Qaeda leader spent his final days is getting razed in what appears to be a surprise demolition. Not that locals are complaining: “We were searched and questioned every time we wanted to reach our homes,” said 22-year-old college student Shabbir Ahmed, who lives in Abbottabad. “When this symbol of evil is finally gone, people in the area will be able to rest.” Last year’s raid angered the Pakistani government, who were not told that it was going to take place by the U.S. government, who feared that an official would tip off the figurehead. (ht idroolinmysleep; photo by Anjum Naveed/AP)

shortformblog:

Osama bin Laden’s compound currently getting destroyed: The place where the al-Qaeda leader spent his final days is getting razed in what appears to be a surprise demolition. Not that locals are complaining: “We were searched and questioned every time we wanted to reach our homes,” said 22-year-old college student Shabbir Ahmed, who lives in Abbottabad. “When this symbol of evil is finally gone, people in the area will be able to rest.” Last year’s raid angered the Pakistani government, who were not told that it was going to take place by the U.S. government, who feared that an official would tip off the figurehead. (ht idroolinmysleep; photo by Anjum Naveed/AP)

(via shortformblog)

cheatsheet:

Pakistan After the Floods: 1 Year Later

Photos: Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Washington Post:

The head of a Washington nonprofit group was arrested Tuesday for allegedly running a front organization on behalf of elements of the Pakistani government, including its spy agency, for more than two decades in an effort to influence U.S. lawmakers and other top officials.

Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, a U.S. citizen and resident of Fairfax, was charged in federal court in Virginia with participating in a long-term conspiracy to act as an agent of the Pakistani government without disclosing his affiliation.

Zaheer Ahmad, 63, a U.S. citizen and resident of Pakistan, was also charged, but remains at large. He was accused of trying to recruit “straw donors” who would provide money that was actually traced back to the Pakistani government.

Fai is the longtime director of the Kashmiri American Council, which describes itself as a nonprofit dedicated to “raising the level of knowledge in the United States about the struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination.” In an affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint, however, the FBI alleged that the center is one of three so-called “Kashmir Centers” that are run by elements of the Pakistani government, including the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Since the mid-1990s, the affidavit said, the Kashmiri American Council has received at least $4 million from the Pakistani government.

And the downward spiral continues.

"

As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds.

Back at the White House Situation Room, word was relayed that bin Laden had been found, signaled by the code word “Geronimo.” That was not bin Laden’s code name, but rather a representation of the letter “G.” Each step of the mission was labeled alphabetically, and “Geronimo” meant that the raiders had reached step “G,” the killing or capture of bin Laden, two officials said.

"

The AP story that everyone else wishes they had, a detailed explanation of the Team 6 operation that took down bin Laden. (via thepoliticalnotebook)

'G' is usually represented as 'Golf' not 'Geronimo' but okay.

Pakistani media ‘name’ CIA station chief in Islamabad

Guardian:

Media outlets publish incorrect name of the station head as relations worsen between spy agencies

Fresh tension has erupted between the CIA and Pakistani intelligence after several Pakistani media outlets published the alleged name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad.

Two senior Pakistani officials said the name published, Mark Carlton, was incorrect, but one said it was similar to the real one.

Despite the inaccuracy, publication of the name was seen as a sign of worsening relations between the two spy agencies a week after the death of Osama bin Laden in a garrison town north of Islamabad.

The CIA chief, Leon Panetta, said last week that he did not warnPakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) about the raid because he feared the information could leak in advance, prompting furious ISI denials of complicity.

Publication of an American spy’s name caused friction between the two agencies six months ago.

The previous station chief, Jonathan Banks, was identified in court papers and the media in December, causing him to leave Pakistan immediately. Some US officials blamed the ISI for the leak.

This time, the name was published by the private television station Ary One on Friday, then reprinted in the rightwing Nation newspaper on Saturday.

According to reports, “Mark Carlton” was given an angry reprimand by the ISI chief, General Shuja Pasha, over the operation to kill Bin Laden.

The published name sounded similar to the real one, a senior Pakistani official said, suggesting the leak had come from a lower-level ISI source rather from than the top.

"It sounds similar. Mike can be misheard as Mark," he said. "It sounds like something someone misheard in the corridor, perhaps someone who is ideological or not very well educated."

The official declined to give the real name. US media did not report the incorrect name, saying that the information remained classified under US law.

A senior ISI official said the agency did not release the name. “If you’re asking, no we didn’t,” he said. Asked about the state of relations with the CIA, he declined to comment.

evilteabagger:

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen Thursday was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who is suspected of orchestrating terrorist attacks on the U.S, but the missile missed its target, according to Yemeni and U.S. officials.

The drone strike comes less than a week after a U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan. Had the drone strike in Yemen been successful, the U.S. would have killed two of the top three most-wanted terrorists in a single week.

A liberal democrat president campaigned on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing the troops home “first thing”. Since then, 30k more troops have gone to Afghanistan and drone strikes in countries we haven’t even declared war with have tripled under his administration. To top it all off, this same liberal democrat is signing off on targeted killings of American citizens without due process.

Get your facts right before you start calling him a liar. President Obama said often during the campaign that he would refocus our efforts in Afghanistan.

On July 20, 2008, then-Senator Obama spoke with CBS’ Lara Logan and discussed his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some quotes:

"For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three. I think it’s very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough.

The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism.

[…]

And despite what the Bush Administration has argued, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we were distracted from our efforts not only to hunt down al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but also to rebuild this country so that people have confidence that we were to here to stay over the long haul, that we were going to rebuild roads, provide electricity, improve the quality of life for people. And now we have a chance, I think, to correct some of those areas.

There’s starting to be a broad consensus that it’s time for us to withdraw some of our combat troops out of Iraq, deploy them here in Afghanistan. And I think we have to seize that opportunity. Now’s the time for us to do it.

He even discusses his plans regarding Pakistan:

What I’ve said is that if we had actionable intelligence against high-value al-Qaeda targets, and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets, that we should. My hope is that it doesn’t come to that - that in fact, the Pakistan government would recognize that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights that we should fire or we should capture him.

Here’s then-Senator Obama’s plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which he calls for two additional brigades to be sent to Afghanistan, that is, 7,000 troops.

Seems to me he’s doing exactly what he said he would. And when and where did he sign off on killing American citizens without due process? Provide some evidence for your claims. Oh, what’s that? You can’t? Because it’s not true? Then stop lying.

Kind of sucks when facts get in the way of your ranting, doesn’t it?

(Source: antigovernmentextremist)

“I have no idea what any of us were looking at at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, in today’s Washington Post, of this photo:

She doesn’t know, so let’s figure it out.

The photo is on the White House’s Flickr feed. Conveniently, Flickr lets you look at the EXIF data on photos, if the uploader allows; the White House does allow it.

This photo’s EXIF data says it was taken May 1 at 4:05pm EDT. Abottabad, Pakistan, is nine hours ahead of DC, which means this photo was taken May 2 at 1:05am PKT.

The mission begins at 3:32pm EDT (12:32am PKT). One of the helicopters carrying DEVGRU malfunctions as it approaches the compound - exact time unknown; the pilot sets it down; the SEALS disembark; and the helicopter is blown up. Bin Laden is 'tentatively' identified at 3:50pm EDT (12:50am PKT); we can assume this means killed. In the Post article above, Clinton says the mission lasted all of 38 minutes, meaning that it ended at 4:10pm EDT (1:10am PKT).

Bin Laden was killed at 3:50pm EDT (12:50am PKT); presumably the next 15 minutes, before the team leaves, is spent clearing the compound of any remaining hostiles and recovering any data or information present.

As the photo was taken at 4:05pm EDT (1:05am PKT), it was taken near the end of the mission. While we may not know exactly what was happening or said when that photo was taken, we do have a general idea: The President, Vice President, Secretary of State and other persons in that room were watching/listening to DEVGRU as the team gathered intelligence.

motherjones:

OK, New York Times, you’ve got our attention. #BinLaden #AboutThatDog

Read this:

The raid carried extraordinary risks — and not just from Bin Laden and those with him in the compound. As the sound of battle shook the night, Pakistan scrambled jets to respond to a military operation that its military had not been informed was taking place.

“They had no idea about who might have been on there, whether it be U.S. or somebody else,” said President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, in a briefing on Monday. “So we were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of the Pakistani airspace, and thankfully there was no engagement with Pakistani forces.”

Mr. Obama and his national security advisers gathered in the White House to follow the raid, which had been planned and carried out in extreme secrecy. “It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday,” Mr. Brennan said. “The minutes passed like days.”

The tensest moment for those watching, he said, was when one of two helicopters that flew the American troops into the compound broke down, stalling as it flew over the 18-foot wall of the compound and prepared to land. The team blew it up and called in one of two backups. In all, 79 commandos and a dog were involved in the raid.

I’m very curious as to where our relationship with Pakistan will go from here.

"Stop this war"

Washington Post:

Holbrooke’s last words on the Afghan war

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung

As friends and colleagues from four decades of diplomatic life reflected on the intensity of Richard C. Holbrooke’s dedication, many were not surprised to learn that concerns about the Afghanistan war were apparently among his final thoughts.

Following Holbrooke’s death, The Washington Post, citing his family members, reported that the veteran diplomat had told his physician just before surgery on Friday to “stop this war.”

But on Tuesday a fuller account of the tone and contents of his remarks emerged.

As Dr. Jehan El-Bayoumi was attending to Holbrooke in the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital, she told him to relax and asked what she could do to comfort him, according to an aide who was present. Holbrooke, who was in severe pain, said jokingly that it was hard to relax because he had to worry about the difficult situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

El-Bayoumi, an Egyptian-American internist who is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s physician, replied that she would worry for him. Holbrooke responded by telling her to end the war, the aide said.

The aide said he could not be sure of Holbrooke’s exact words. He emphasized Tuesday that the comment was made in painful banter, rather than as a serious exhortation about policy. Holbrooke also spoke extensively about his family and friends as he awaited surgery by Farzad Najam, a thoracic surgeon of Pakistani descent.

I’ll leave thoughts on the ambassador to Slate’s obituary/reflection on Holbrooke.

But thought I’d point to WaPo commenter mortified469's views on Holbrooke's death.

Holbrooke died…an Egyptian and a Pakistani…Hummm!

Posted by: mortified469 | December 14, 2010 3:19 PM 

$16.36, the amount per person donated to Pakistan following the July floods. $1087.33 per person was donated to Haiti following this year’s earthquake.

Time:

The images from Haiti’s earthquake resonated around the world, triggering an outpouring of money and goodwill. But Pakistan’s disastrous floods did not elicit the same feelings. Perhaps its the country’s history of supporting terrorism, its alleged harboring of Osama bin Laden, or its remote location in South Asia. But whatever the reason, donors hesitated to give the kinds of money it gave to Haiti. At one point an estimated one-fifth of the Pakistani population was under water. Flying over the scene of wrecked homes and mudslides, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had never seen anything like it. An estimated 1,600 people died.

Maybe it was the lack of media coverage on Pakistan, or rather the attention provided by celebrities. There were countless celebrities going out, asking for money to be donated to Haiti. George Clooney and Wyclef Jean in particular were the faces of the Haiti aid project.

Not a single celebrity comes to mind that tried to raise awareness regarding Pakistan. I can think of the reports from Anderson Cooper and Brian Williams on Pakistan, but that’s about it. [I’ll try to get links for both of these up when I can, hopefully soon.] Cooper is close to a celebrity himself, but not really for any of his reporting but for his personal life, and the occasional oddball report.

Before January I doubt most Americans knew where Haiti was on the map. Today  I still doubt that. I know most Americans don’t know that Haiti was the second democratic government in the Americas. Or that they looked to the United States for support and assistance as their government struggled to establish itself. But Haiti was founded on the backs of a slave revolution; so despite sharing our democratic beliefs, they were Africans in the minds of early 19th century Americans. For a long time, that perception of Haitians as intrinsically separate from Americans has stuck with us.

Read More

Foreign Policy:

 A few words in defense of land mines

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks

 
I want to be careful here. But I also keep in mind that writing a good blog is not a popularity contest.FP ran a terrific column the other day about land mines, provoked by the nasty little one that ripped off Joao Silva’s feet in Afghanistan the other day. He is the legendary New York Times photographer.
Land mines are awful little things, as this article shows so well. Especially evil are the simple little ones, no bigger than a can of tuna fish, last for decades, and blow up kids, dogs, sheep and photographers. Once, while studying the Soviet war in Afghanistan, I read an article about the secondary and tertiary damage done by land mines. It turns out that not only do they maim intentionally, rather than kill, they also punish the organs — liver, kidneys, heart — but especially the brain. People who step on land mines are likely to have years of lingering agony from these invisible blast effects. That medical study came to my mind when in the spring of 2002, while wandering around the neighborhood in Kabul in which I’d lived for two years as a teenager, I wound up in what my driver tardily said appeared to be a minefield. (And thanks to the U.S. Army Europe for the mine-awareness course they made me take before I embedded in Bosnia in 1995. Their lessons came in handy that day, especially in re-tracing my steps as I exited that overgrown, animal-less field in the middle of a city.)
So why do I have even one good word to say about land mines? Because those that are built to self-destruct after a set period — say six months — can still be useful. For example, if Pakistan descended into total chaos, it might be a very good idea to air-drop land mines around the bunkers holding its nuclear warheads, just to keep them from falling into terrorist hands while the situation is sorted out. Considering that the alternative could be a nuclear 9/11, in New York, Bombay, Madrid, Paris, or London, suddenly land mines don’t seem so bad. This is of course an extreme situation, but it tells me there are some instances where an argument can be made for certain kinds of land mines.

[Emphasis in last paragraph mine]
Sorry, but no matter what scenario one might create, I cannot find any rational justification for the further deployment of land mines anywhere in the world.
Assume the scenario he suggests plays out and land mines are dropped around Pakistan’s bunkers. Assume also that six months, one year, two years, however long after this, Pakistan stabilizes. There are now untold amounts of land mines in unknown locations in the Pakistani country/mountain-side.
So, way to go. You’ve just turned Pakistan into a minefield.
Also, and maybe I’m overestimating Pakistan’s technological prowess, but I seriously doubt it, wouldn’t they have some sort of remote connection to the bunkers? So, if the terrorists took control of the government, captured Zardari, or at least gained access to his files - potentially with the aid of elements within the Pakistani government and military, wouldn’t they be able to access the bunkers remotely as well?
Just a thought.

Foreign Policy:

 A few words in defense of land mines

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks

 

I want to be careful here. But I also keep in mind that writing a good blog is not a popularity contest.FP ran a terrific column the other day about land mines, provoked by the nasty little one that ripped off Joao Silva’s feet in Afghanistan the other day. He is the legendary New York Times photographer.

Land mines are awful little things, as this article shows so well. Especially evil are the simple little ones, no bigger than a can of tuna fish, last for decades, and blow up kids, dogs, sheep and photographers. Once, while studying the Soviet war in Afghanistan, I read an article about the secondary and tertiary damage done by land mines. It turns out that not only do they maim intentionally, rather than kill, they also punish the organs — liver, kidneys, heart — but especially the brain. People who step on land mines are likely to have years of lingering agony from these invisible blast effects. That medical study came to my mind when in the spring of 2002, while wandering around the neighborhood in Kabul in which I’d lived for two years as a teenager, I wound up in what my driver tardily said appeared to be a minefield. (And thanks to the U.S. Army Europe for the mine-awareness course they made me take before I embedded in Bosnia in 1995. Their lessons came in handy that day, especially in re-tracing my steps as I exited that overgrown, animal-less field in the middle of a city.)

So why do I have even one good word to say about land mines? Because those that are built to self-destruct after a set period — say six months — can still be useful. For example, if Pakistan descended into total chaos, it might be a very good idea to air-drop land mines around the bunkers holding its nuclear warheads, just to keep them from falling into terrorist hands while the situation is sorted out. Considering that the alternative could be a nuclear 9/11, in New York, Bombay, Madrid, Paris, or London, suddenly land mines don’t seem so bad. This is of course an extreme situation, but it tells me there are some instances where an argument can be made for certain kinds of land mines.

[Emphasis in last paragraph mine]

Sorry, but no matter what scenario one might create, I cannot find any rational justification for the further deployment of land mines anywhere in the world.

Assume the scenario he suggests plays out and land mines are dropped around Pakistan’s bunkers. Assume also that six months, one year, two years, however long after this, Pakistan stabilizes. There are now untold amounts of land mines in unknown locations in the Pakistani country/mountain-side.

So, way to go. You’ve just turned Pakistan into a minefield.

Also, and maybe I’m overestimating Pakistan’s technological prowess, but I seriously doubt it, wouldn’t they have some sort of remote connection to the bunkers? So, if the terrorists took control of the government, captured Zardari, or at least gained access to his files - potentially with the aid of elements within the Pakistani government and military, wouldn’t they be able to access the bunkers remotely as well?

Just a thought.