Feb 22 2008

Finally Everyone Admits US And Pakistan OK’d Strikes

I had posted many times on how Musharraf, and before her death Bhutto as well, had basically given their public support to US strikes against high value targets hiding in Pakistan as long as they were coordinated and limited to the big fish. The NY Times, more than likely in a move to disrupt our efforts and protect Bin Laden and his thugs from justice, now confirms these agreements, but hints (smirkingly?) that America’s permission to reach out and touch al-Qaeda may now be limited thanks to the elections in Pakistan:

American officials reached a quiet understanding with Pakistan’s leader last month to intensify secret strikes against suspected terrorists by pilotless aircraft launched in Pakistan, senior officials in both governments say. But the prospect of changes in Pakistan’s government has the Bush administration worried that the new operations could be curtailed.

Among other things, the new arrangements allowed an increase in the number and scope of patrols and strikes by armed Predator surveillance aircraft launched from a secret base in Pakistan — a far more aggressive strategy to attack Al Qaeda and the Taliban than had existed before.

But since opposition parties emerged victorious from the parliamentary election early this week, American officials are worried that the new, more permissive arrangement could be choked off in its infancy.

In the weeks before Monday’s election, a series of meetings among President Bush’s national security advisers resulted in a significant relaxation of the rules under which American forces could aim attacks at suspected Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the tribal areas near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

The change, described by senior American and Pakistani officials who would not speak for attribution because of the classified nature of the program, allows American military commanders greater leeway to choose from what one official who took part in the debate called “a Chinese menu” of strike options.

All those cheering for a Musharraf defeat (which did not happen) now can see the result of their wishes. Except I doubt the NY Times has this one right (they get so few right). I can see the new government continuing the program. But what the NY Times did do in exposing this activity to the terrorists is maybe a good thing – it shows them they do not have a haven within Pakistan to operate out of safely.

Of course, this signal could force the terrorists to go back to their violent ways and sow distrust with the new government as well. I hope this was a planned exposure and not another liberal deep inside the CIA trying to play President.

One response so far

One Response to “Finally Everyone Admits US And Pakistan OK’d Strikes”

  1. […] posts from months past on the agreement between the US and Pakistan for targeted air strikes (see here and here for some examples).  In addition I noted there were plans for increased CIA presence in […]