Thursday, March 7, 2013

Who Protected Usama bin Ladin?: An Investigation into Forgotten Evidence

By Barry Rubin

On the basis of easily obtainable evidence, it is possible to ask the following questions: 

Why has there never been any government investigation that yielded changed policies into Pakistani complicity in protecting Usama bin Ladin and the Taliban at a time that these forces were killing hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan and elsewhere? 

How has large-scale U.S. aid to Pakistan continued without change and without this question being answered? 

And why has there been no media or congressional interest into an extremely passionate issue (remember September 11?) in which there are arsenals of smoking guns?

A reader in response to this article said that everyone knows that at least part of Pakistan's government was protecting bin Ladin. Here's my answer: Might this fact not require some action on the part of U.S. policy and investigation on the part of the mass media? It is not comforting to be told that everyone knows that a country receiving huge amounts of aid and diplomatic support acts as if it is at war with the United States. Isn't this a bit more than a fun fact? How amazingly passive and accepting of aggression against it has American become?

I wrote an article December 19, 2009, that begins:

“Prediction: One day some enterprising author or former intelligence officer is going to write a best-selling book about the hunt for Usama bin Ladin. Readers will be horrified to find how the Pakistani government and military sabotaged the effort to catch or kill the al-Qaida leadership.”

In fact, Usama bin Ladin was killed on May 2, 2011, and the news was obvious about how he had been given safe haven and protected by at least some elements in Pakistan’s government. Remarkably, there was no serious change in U.S. policy toward Pakistan despite the fact that this regime treated badly and threw into prison the Pakistani doctor who helped the United States get bin Ladin. Nothing is more immoral than to betray friends.

One of the keys to this foolishness was an interview then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a week earlier:
“We’ve admired the way Pakistan has pulled together to go after those elements of the Taliban that are directly threatening them. And I think that the people of Pakistan are so unified now in support of this military action.”

Note to Hillary: Of course Pakistan has gone after those elements in the Taliban that were directly threatening them. The problem is that it didn’t do anything about those elements in al-Qaida or the Taliban who were directly threatening the United States. How many billions of dollars in aid was given by the Obama Administration to Pakistan despite that reality? And why hasn’t U.S. policy changed almost two years after it became public that bin Ladin, the biggest single mass murderer of American civilians in history, was Pakistan’s privileged guest?

But wait! Perhaps Hillary wasn't so clueless after all. Six months after her defense of Pakistan cited above but almost precisely a year to the day before the killing of bin Ladin, Clinton said this:

"I'm not saying that they're at the highest levels but I believe that somewhere in this [Pakistani] government are people who know where Usama bin Laden and al-Qaida is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture or kill, those who attacked us on 9/11."

This was a slip of major proportions and an exception to what administration officials said on a daily basis. Nothing had happened between December 2009 and May 2010 that showed a real change in Pakistani policy, except as I noted retaliations against those elements in the Taliban who had attacked Pakistan directly.

Indeed in October 2009 there was an event long-forgotten today that proved the opposite. David Rhode, an American journalist who had been taken prisoner by the Taliban and held for several months wrote an article in the New York Times describing in great detail his personal observations of Pakistani officials helping the Taliban.

This was at a time--in fact all these events were--when the Taliban was killing scores of American soldiers and terrorizing Afghans.

It was also at a time--in fact all these events were--when the Obama Administration was continuing to give billions of dollars to that same Pakistani government.

And today, more than three years after the Rhode and Clinton statements, this same situation continues.
What makes this even more scandalous is that I'm not aware of any major journalistic or government investigation about what Pakistan's rulers knew and when did they know it, followed by demands of punishment or firing for Pakistan officials and officers involved, and failing that followed by a reduction in U.S. aid and relations with Pakistan.

It's even more scandalous for this reason: Nobody in Pakistan has been punished for helping bin Ladin and the Taliban. No officials have been fired. Has the United States even demanded such steps be taken?

Only one man has been punished at all in regard to these events: the Pakistani doctor who helped the United States get bin Ladin. He's now in a Pakistani prison and reportedly been treated terribly. He's forgotten, too. 

Remember that if you, as a non-American, ever think of taking some risk to help the United States. The Egyptian moderates who boycotted and jeered Secretary of State John Kerry whose policy backs the Muslim Brotherhood; the moderates in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and elsewhere have learned that lesson. So have Central Europeans who lack protection against Russia; Latin Americans who worry about Cuba and Venezuela while the late dictator Hugo Chavez is mourned as a hero in much of American mass media and intelligentsia; even Saudi Arabia and Israel, and other countries whose names would astonish you, have learned that lesson.

Did I mention that the Pakistani government is getting billions of dollars in U.S. aid, even at a time of great spending deficits in the United States?

The fact that nobody is even talking about this is another proof about how decadent U.S. politics and foreign policy have become. Obama gets praise for killing bin Ladin but not responsibility to do something about the reason why bin Ladin was able to remain safe for a decade after September 11 and continue planning attacks on America.

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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Thirteen of his books can be read and downloaded for free at the website of the GLORIA Center including The Arab States and the Palestine ConflictThe Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East and The Truth About Syria. His blog is Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

This article is published on PJMedia.

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