The story is going to be buried (U.S. Aborted Raid on Qaeda Chiefs in Pakistan in ’05),
and our country will once again be left stupefied, wondering "what happened",
as the Pulitzer Prize winning book Ghost Wars by Steve Coll (BUY IT!) will be followed up
with a much needed sequel, leaving me and apparently the CIA and US Army Special Forces wondering what blows up next. It is a replay of the late 1990s in the Afghan-Kush region, only instead of the political implications of a blow job and how a failed raid against al Qaeda would "play" for the administration in charge back then, it is the political implications of already having embarked on a remarkably naive clusterfuck of historic precedence in Iraq, and because the childish codgers who brought us that one were looking to make up for it by doing the same exact thing in Iran as soon as they could, it was Pakistan's joke of a government that Donald Rumsfeld apparently concluded was too important of an ally to risk offending, with the carrying out of military operations in its tribal areas, where it so happened that a meeting of al Qaeda brass took place at a time and location we were aware of beforehand.
I'm rarely angered anymore by the newspaper, having grown accustomed to the fact that good news will be difficult to come by most days, but tonight I'm really pissed off. The bottom line here is that given the opportunity to strike against the organization that took down the towers, you and I can no longer be confident that the political angle will be pushed aside as promised. For Clinton it was the reluctance to fire off more rockets, since the ones that landed in Sudan weren't able to kill bin Laden, and also the fact that he'd managed to give Republicans an opening to work with, concerning what came out of the opening he'd asked Monica to work with.
Pakistan was stupidly considered an ally back then, even as it became more and more clear that their ISI (intelligence agency) had been backing the Taliban and bin Laden for quite some time. Killing bin Laden was important to Clinton, but not important enough to throw caution to the wind and go after him when the intelligence was indicating we had a chance. Whether the idea of a "snatch and grab" resulting in civilian casualties seemed unacceptable, or the launching of rockets seemed inhumane, the background noise throughout that period of indecision was always the idea that somehow Pakistan's interests and our own were cosmically united in some way, and the honor of being made a fool of by them for many years to come, was just something we couldn't live without.
In those years our CIA agents were right about the need to back General Massoud of the Northern Alliance. The military genius that he was, having defeated whatever the Soviets had to go after him with, it was through an alliance with him that our mission to capture or kill bin Laden stood a real chance. The State Department of course wanted to make sure that our aid to Massaod never became known to Pakistani ISI (as if they weren't already aware), as Pakistan's idea from the start had been that by supporting the Taliban, there would eventually be stability in Afghanistan and a friendly government to do business with. This reality tied the CIA's hands and never allowed them to guarantee anything in exchange for Massoud's army taking out bin Laden. And so, just a short time before 9/11, al Qaeda (with Pakistan's help?) managed to assassinate Massoud.
The towers fall, and in the midst of all this, Pakistan's prime minister is overthrown in a coup that is orchestrated by the military. General Musharraf sees a dictatorship fall into his lap. Of course the government bylaws indicate some form of democracy governing Pakistan, but let's not be naive. This dictatorship like all dictatorships can go either one of two ways. The leader can attempt to manage the politics of his country with as little bloodshed as possible before he is assassinated - or - he can immediately begin executing people arbitrarily and through the use of terrorism, earn himself the chance to someday hand over the title to one of his sons. Mussarif, in spite of however many jets and missiles we give him in exchange for nothing, was never going to last unless he cut off ties with us and got brutal. There may still be time for the latter, but as I see it the clock is short on remaining ticks.
His people have grown more and more fanatic about their religion with each passing day, and in the tribal areas he could not control, a decision was made about a year ago to simply look the other way from then on and allow the Taliban to do what it wished. This mistake has only led to a creeping of this religious insanity into the outlying communities closest to the Afghan border, as someone proactively scanning news sources for mention of this phenomenon would rarely be left wanting in any given week. Young Muslim cowards take to the streets with sticks and knives looking for random women walking the streets who aren't covered head to toe, perhaps on their way to work, then beating the tits off one after another until word gets around that the clock has been turned back a couple hundred years, and there's a new Koran-carrying maniac sheriff in town to watch out for.
Let's be frank - Musharraf was not able to prevent that from happening, and he's still pretending to like us - which is really what could have been predicted all along, since it wasn't even his planing of the caper or his orders that led to the military action that resulted in his current job title. That was the work of former ISI chief Ehsan ul-Haq, who more than likely will be the one in charge once this charade is finally over with. No doubt we'll be right there with some free jets and kabooms to celebrate the occasion. No doubt the rapes and beatings taking place in the name of Allah within Pakistan will carry on as well. How our interests are served by pretending every fact retold here isn't true, I don't know.
If I had to venture a guess, I don't think Donald Rumsfeld really knew either. Neoconservatives being renown for their childish naivety in the realm of geopolitics, yet generally very skilled in unethical buerocratic ball-busting, I imagine there was a brief moment during all of this when he wondered to himself whether to tell CIA Director Porter Goss "no dice" when the decision was made, or to do what he eventually did by waiting until the "11th hour" before telling him. Personally, I'm willing to bet that he chose the latter for the mere sake of ensuring that if Goss decided to go over his head, there wouldn't be enough time for the President to comprehend what was going on, let alone overrule the Secretary of Defense. That being the case, Rumsfeld would then have plenty of time to further target the CIA's funding and mission, with a stone-cold "slight" to help justify his stupid power-horny way of doing things, and a fresh enemy from within to concentrate on fucking over rather than actually do his job.
No, the very idea that the CIA would be able to brag about an accomplishment like capturing one of bin Laden's seconds, would be just the kind of thing that would keep him awake at night. And so, this bomb-happy old man who had overruled countless experts who were much smarter than he was, throughout his time atop the Pentagon chain of command, resulting in one bloody catastrophe/sadomasochistic embarrassment after another in Iraq, allowed himself a "Dubya moment" in citing the potential casualties and diplomatic cost in conducting a military operation within Pakistan. Indeed, he was bothered by the thought of a body count, and didn't want to step on Secretary of State Rice's toes. Uh-huh...
I hope this is all sinking in by now, because while the NYTimes did provide this story to us on Sunday morning, there was hardly any historical comparison done between the tendencies of Rumsfeld prior to this decision being made to not go after al Qaeda. The article does bring up the question of whether Bush had been involved in the decision making process, and sadly when it comes to this knucklehead of a President, assuming that he even knows about it to this day isn't worth betting on...press report and all. Have no fear though, because if he does know about the article, you can be sure that he'll have a "talkin' to" ready to go on the subject of "leakers" and how his people have already ordered up a couple hundred lie-detector machines and water boarding tables for the job of going through Langley one office at a time until the sources are found and brought to justice.
As for all this jibber-jabber about "9/11 changing everything" and "those who harbor terrorists"...
(NYTimes Article) “The Special Operations guys are tearing their hair out at the highest levels,” said a former Bush administration official with close ties to those troops. While they have not received good intelligence on the whereabouts of top Qaeda members recently, he said, they say they believe they have sometimes had useful information on lower-level figures.
“There is a degree of frustration that is off the charts, because they are looking at targets on a daily basis and can’t move against them,” he said. In early 2005, after learning about the Qaeda meeting, the military developed a plan for a small Navy Seals unit to parachute into Pakistan to carry out a quick operation, former officials said. But as the operation moved up the military chain of command, officials said, various planners bulked up the force’s size to provide security for the Special Operations forces.
“The whole thing turned into the invasion of Pakistan,” said the former senior intelligence official involved in the planning. Still, he said he thought the mission was worth the risk. “We were frustrated because we wanted to take a shot,” he said. Several former officials interviewed said the operation was not the only occasion since the Sept. 11 attacks that plans were developed to use a large American military force in Pakistan. It is unclear whether any of those missions have been executed.
Some of the military and intelligence officials familiar with the 2005 events say it showed a rift between operators in the field and a military bureaucracy that has still not effectively adapted to hunt for global terrorists, moving too cautiously to use Special Operations troops against terrorist targets.