Most recently, the question has been asked by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, on today’s segment of his show, GPS. With retired Air Force General and former CIA Director Michael Hayden as his guest, Mr. Zakaria asked the question whether, given Osama bin Laden’s massive compound in Abbotabad, the suspicious activity surrounding that compound, and its location in a heavily military town just a couple miles from Pakistan’s Military Academy, is the statement of the Pakistani Government to the effect that they didn’t know bin Laden’s whereabouts a credible one?

General Hayden’s reply was telling. His take was that such an assertion was not, in fact, credible. “Strained the limits of credulity” was Hayden’s phrase. General Hayden did, however, hint obliquely at the real problem that exists within Pakistan. That is, that Inter-service Intelligence (ISI), and in some cases, the Pakistani Army, are both to perhaps a much greater extent than realized, powerful entities independent of the Pakistani government. Significantly, the Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, is the former Director General of ISI, and his record in that position is checkered, to say the least. Whether this lack of government control is a situation that is embarrassing to Pakistan, or whether it provides a convenient “plausible deniability” for Musharraf’s Zardari’s government, or allows Islamabad to play both ends against the middle, is unclear. All may simultaneously be true to a greater or lesser extent.

The exploitation of the intelligence bonanza from bin Laden’s compound could answer some questions, namely how deeply involved in sheltering bin Laden the higher ranks of the Pakistani Army and ISI might have been. Either way, the situation presents a considerable problem for the Obama Administration, as it did for his predecessor. President Obama and his national security team should follow the advice of General Hayden from this afternoon’s interview with Mr. Zakaria, and “go where the facts lead them”. I hope they will do just that, and must believe they will.

Whatever the public statements of the Obama Administration regarding Pakistan and its role in bin Laden’s protection, one has to look carefully at what those statements DO NOT say. For there can be little doubt that the suspicions that began with Colin Powell’s trip to Islamabad in the wake of 9/11, suspicions regarding the reliability of Pakistan as an ally and of Pakistan’s complicity in sheltering and assisting Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents, have been more than justified. Behind the scenes, that suspicion was the reason that the Obama Administration likely informed Pakistan very belatedly, if at all, regarding the May 1st operation. Which, given Pakistan’s divided sympathies and duplicity in the War on Terror, was the key call to ensure mission success.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, Aviation, Foreign Policy, Hard Power, History, Homeland Security, Marine Corps, Navy

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • The Usual Suspect

    This is just another chapter in the duplicity of the Pakistani Government. From A.Q. Khan, to bin Laden, to attacks by Pakistani border troops on our soldiers, to the current holding of our stealth helicopter technology for Chinese perusal this is all just par for the course for the Pakistani’s. They have only self interest, but no honor. We have definite problems in choosing our friends in this part of the world and really, maybe, we haven’t chosen them at all. They are our “friends” because they possess the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world and it is at risk of falling into the hands of fundamentalists at almost any time. With friends like the Pakistani’s, who needs enemies?


    The President of Pakistan is Asif Ali Zardari, the Musharraf Government ceased to exist in August of 2008 when President Musharraf resigned and they elected the new president.

    Regardless of who was president, the Pakistanis have always tried to play both sides of the fence. Witness the fact the the government has continually complained about US drone attacks publically, but have never made any real effort to stop them! That doesn’t mean that they would have known the OBL was in the compound in Abbotabad.

    There wasn’t a mailbox outside and I am pretty sure he wasn’t making the social rounds. So if no one left the compound but people who were not known to be related to OBL, and the compound belonged to some potentially highly influencial individual, since it was expensive and who knows where the money comes from in that part of the world, how would they learn about who was inside? And if the local police thought it might be someone influencial who owned the house, it was pretty expensive, they would probably not try to figure out anything about it since that would increase there life expectency and promotion opportunities. Sorry, for a country as large and as poorly run as Pakistan, it doesn’t stretch the bounds of belief to believe that no one in the government knew OBL there. Who in Abbotabad would have thought to link the compound with OBL since everyone knew he wasn’t there?

    By all means, go where the facts lead them, but lets try not to make the facts lead to where our preconceived notions want them to go.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Roger on Zardari. As Sal says, MEFIXIE.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    As to your other points, a massive compound in the middle of a city that holds a large number of retired Pakistani Army officers, two miles from Pakistan’s Sandhurst, with shadowy activity and secretiveness all about? To say that “nobody” in the government knew is, as General Hayden states, beyond the bounds of belief.

    Part of the issue is that the highest levels of government might not have known, because ISI and Pak Army are often not accountable to that government. Either way, it presents the same problem for the Obama Admin as it did for that of GW Bush.

  • Mendez

    That was my thinking too. After many times have passed but ISI and Pak army don’t know anything. It’s just a funny joke. By the way, The post was very very important for me. Thank you.

  • Matt Yankee

    The Mumbai attack is widely accepted to have been an ISI mission…so WHY does anyone give them the benefit of the doubt with OBL turning up right down the street from their West Point…SIX yrs is also a descent hint. The Haqqani’s long and detailed support and the fact that Mullah Omar lives in peace in Quetta are a another couple of hints. AND AQ Kahn…yea he deserves a bullet in the head too.

    George W said it best…if you harbor a terrorist YOU are a terrorist, if you aide a terrorist YOU are a terrorist, if you finance a terrorist YOU are a terrorist. We don’t negotiate with terrorists. Pakistanis are terrorists. The most severe of consequences are called for. Let histoy record that this country will act against such dangerous enemies. Where there is a will there is a way. Find a way. NO more playing footsy with terrorists.

  • Jay

    Matt Yankee — what ways are you considering we should have the will to pursue? The “you are either with us, or against us” line is too simplistic — and not accurate.

    This is a very tough issue. The Pakistanis have obviously been cooperating and helping us to some extent, and hindering us to some extent as well.

    We have to engage with nuclear powers, no matter who they are.

    I doubt any Pakistani leader would be able to stay in power (or even survive…) if he or she ticked off a large segment of their population that is not pro-U.S.


    I am not arguing the Pakistan is innocent, just not to start your investigation with their guilt pre-determined. But lets look at those suspicious activities:
    1. There was a large compound (that sounds suspicious) Look at the sattelite pictures, it was surrounded by similiar sized compounds. Walk through Bahrain and you see hundreds of similiar compounds. And if you look at the 2005 pictures, it started out in the countryside.
    2. They burned their trash? Sorry, not buying it, this is Pakistan not NYC.
    3. No one goes in or out? I lived across from a similiar compound for a couple of months in Bahrain. It had at least 15ft walls and I never saw anyone go in or out. With a plausible cover story for the locals, no one would notice or say anything.
    4. No Telephone or internet? Who tracks that stuff anyway? Especially in somewhere like Pakistan?
    It is only with the knowledge that the couriers went there and OBL might have been there does all of that stuff start to sound suspicious. And who identified the couriers for us? Pakistan!

    But lets see, if people within the Pakistani government wanted to protect OBL, who would have to be involved? The local ISI guy and maybe a few others? That’s it.

    How many Nazis were found to be hiding in plane site in major cities throughout Europe? If they didn’t do anything to attract suspicion, they usually weren’t caught for many years.

    Again, not to defend Pakistan, without question certain parts(even large parts) of the Pakistani government are corrupt and or actively working against us. But that has always been the case.

    Final thought, if nothing else Wikileaks dispelled the notion that what is publically said and what really happened are two different things. Why should this case be any different? for both sides!

  • UltimaRatioReg


    My investigation? The question was asked of General Hayden, and his reply is a qualified and knowledgeable response.

    As for starting an investigation without pre-determined guilt, that seems to be a Navy trait…

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Perhaps this provides some more investigatory fodder:

  • Derrick

    Well…in dealing with colleagues of Pakistani descent, I do find a fair proportion of them are anti-US, so I would not be surprised if some elements of the Pakistani government were involved in hiding Osama. Note this observation is drawn from personal experience and not a scientific study so it’s speculation at best. But like USNVO stated, Pakistan identified Osama’s couriers for the US military, so there are obviously factions within Pakistan who want Osama Bin Laden dead.

    I’m sure the White House will have the CIA present all the facts to them and make an informed decision. I am fully confident in the CIA’s ability to gather all the facts.

    Off-topic, but, if Pakistan is holding the remains of that damaged stealth chopper to let any country, not just China, peruse, that’s a big no-no. But that’s for an entirely separate topic altogether.

  • Jay

    See recent New Yorker piece irt our support to Pakistan.


    “As for starting an investigation without pre-determined guilt, that seems to be a Navy trait”

    Agreed, but just because we tend to hit our heads against the wall because it feels so good when it stops, doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid or we shouldn’t stop doing it.

  • Matt Yankee


    Simple is good. I think our country suffers to much from paralysis through analysis. It does not matter if Pakistanis are 50/50 good/enemy when the 50 enemy are actively engaged in defeating this country in a War. Our responsiblity is to protect our own country and you cannot do that by aiding the enemy that is trying to defeat you. It is the classic case of giving the bully your lunch money and expecting him to stop at that. If even one nuke was passed off to AQ by a sympathetic Army or ISI it would mean epic disaster. So why take a chance? I think this is a good oppurtunity for this country to draw a line in the sand to other rogue countries by making an example out of Pakistan.

    How many years ago did AQ Kahn proliferate nuke secrets to our enemies? This is undisputable historical fact. So why are we confident that they wouldn’t just hand AQ a nuke or two? Should we really just focus on the good things they do and not think worst case? I thought we are supposed to be planning for worst cases because that’s normally what happens eventually?

    The Pakistanis are counting on us not to be simple. Wouldn’t it have been easier to find OBL if we had considered him to be a Pakistani General?

  • Rich B.

    National relations are never as easy as we would like to make them out to be. We are not simply tied to Pakistan due to the nuclear issue. Karachi’s importance to the NATO forces in Afghanistan arises from the fact that the NATO continues to be dependent in a large measure on Karachi for providing logistic supplies to its forces in Afghanistan. Approximately 75 percent of the supplies for the Afghan war pass through Pakistan, including 40 percent of the fuel used by US military forces.

    The Russian Federation offer to Kyrgyzstan, granting them finanical aid to close the airbase in the north, the supply support our forces is severly threatened.

    With logistic support still heavily brought in from sea and transported overland, as much as I would love to divorce us from this Janus nation; we are bound by our limited access to the country in which we are fighting.

    Closing our doors on Pakistan will only occur once we have abandoned the conflict and left the region.

    Their duplicity is obvious; we know them well. We know they walk a tightrope between fundamentalism and maintaining their international relations.

    That is why we do not fear “repercussion” for our actions; “concerned” but not fearing. Arab culture never bargains from a position of strength, only from a position as equals with much bloviating before coming to agreement. If you are weaker than me; why should I bargain with you to drink at the well? I will take the well if I am stronger.

    Pakistan must “establish” themselves amongst their peers as our equal. So they will voice disdain; and we will make a showing of acknowleding their sovereignity (at least until the next mission.)

    Business will return to normal.

  • Matt Yankee

    Think about this…we are not going to confront the real threat to our own country, AQ with Pak nukes, because we need the Paks to supply a War in Afghanistan where no nukes and little AQ exist. The supplies need to go no further than Pakistan. Let’s withdraw from Afghanistan into Pakistan…for the supply route if AQ with nukes isn’t enough of a reason. Understand we have limited resources so we should use the bulk of the troops in Afghanistan and get India to commit for the long haul. This also prevents possible future Indo/Pak nuke war…three birds one stone.

  • Jay

    Matt – Your “simple is good” looks more to me like “simple is not well thought out, dangerous, and foolhardy”. I can think of few things that would harm our efforts in SWA more, than to start a Pakistani campaign, especially if you are advocating a joint campaign with the Indians. We need to remain engaged with the Pakistanis who need and want our assistance, and even those who don’t, but who might accept it for some horse-trading, so we can get what we need from them (assistance with intel and security).

    I am not a conspiracy theorist, but read some interesting articles on today’s early bird re:Pakistani cooperation (perhaps assisting, or simply not interfering), with the OBL raid. After which, we all “play our roles” as required, e.g. the Pakistanis bluster for a while, telling us how insulted they are, and we remind everyone of our intent and capabilities.

    The tribal regions and the AfPak border remain a huge, tough issue. We are not likely to see success (not even sure that is an accurate term…) without passive and active Pakistani support.

  • Matt Yankee

    Jay I actually hope your right. We’ll know soon enough. For better or worse.

    Interesting article below about the Mumbai attack… another ISI terror mission.

  • Mendez

    The news was the opposite site of the coin. Every one now guess what was actually happened. Now everyday Pakistan facing violence and bomb attack. It is like a home war. And the war need to overcome by themselves.

  • Mendez

    Now a days Pakistan cross many crucial time. The situation of Pakistan really very bad. Everyday many people die in Pakistan. So they should overcome this situation very quickly.