Osama, Obama and Pakistan – What’s the US Response to Pakistan Post-OBL?

By YeOldeScribe ~ May 5th, 2011 @ 12:13 am

All this week (or at least for the foreseeable future) we’re going to be covering Osama bin Laden’s (OBL) death and what it means to Progressives, Americans and the rest of the world. As you all know by now, OBL was killed living in a fortified structure in Pakistan. Pakistan isn’t like Afghanistan was in 2001 – we have relations with Pakistan, and we give them a good chunk of foreign aid (more on that later). We’re also on a lot nicer terms with Pakistan than we were with Afghanistan and the Taliban government.

And yet I don’t think Obama’s National Security Team was terribly surprised to find OBL “hiding” in Pakistan. And by hiding, we mean living in a million dollar fortified mansion that can be seen on Google Earth. As you can tell by the images and stories provided, this home stood out just a little bit. The height of the walls and the presence of barbed wire would be kind of a dead giveaway that someone who wasn’t looking for visitors lived there. And the absence of phone/internet lines should have been red flags, too. In short, if they had been paying attention, Pakistan should have been able to put two and two together and figure out that the US (or the international community) might be interested in whoever was living in the compound.

But it’s not like Pakistan could be expected to inspect every single home in its domain, right? It’s not like there was a military base for the Pakistani army less than two miles away, right? Not like he was living in a “military town”, right? Take a good look at that Google Earth link again if you don’t believe me – it’ll show the distance is probably less than a mile and a half from OBL’s abode to a major Pakistani Army Military Academy. Indeed, Abbottabad and the surrounding area are very closely tied to the Pakistani Military, making their story that they had no idea OBL was right under their noses slightly less believable.

And did you know that OBL isn’t the first member of al Queda to be caught in Pakistan? That might not surprise you, but maybe this will – he’s not even the first al Queda member to be caught there this year. Not more than 37 days ago, Umar Patek – a “high-profile [al Queda] capture” was caught in Pakistan. In fairness, it seems in this case Pakistani Intelligence made the capture, but it still begs the question “Why are all the world’s terrorists congregating in one place?” We’re guessing it’s not for the food.

To say the least, there’s some serious concerns after the raid on OBL’s compound as to how much Pakistan really knew and if they should have done anything about it. But it’s even more interesting to note that the US didn’t trust Pakistan even before the raid – which is why they weren’t included in on it. From CIA director Leon Panetta “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets.” That’s a pretty bold statement to make, but it’s a warranted one. The media has caught on to numerous times where we “just missed” or “almost” captured OBL, and a lot of those stories originate in Pakistan.

So what does it all mean? It means a lot of people are starting to question the almost $20 billion we’ve given to Pakistan post 9/11 – and rightfully so. Unexpectedly, some people are handing it better than others. One congressman – Rep. Allen West (R-FL) believes that we should immediately cut off all foreign aid to Pakistan, essentially flipping the bird to a nation that has helped us over the past 10 years to apprehend and root out many terrorists (even if they also harbor some, knowingly or unknowingly). A much more sensible propsal was created by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) which says to withhold all funds until Pakistan has a chance to explain itself.

What’s our opinion? While we wouldn’t have a huge problem with Sen. Lautenberg’s idea, we don’t think it’s right to cut off foreign aid over this flap right away. Instead, an investivgation by the CIA should be conducted. America should get to know (at least in a general sense) why we didn’t and don’t trust Pakistan, and we should also get answers to the million dollar question – Should Pakistan have known that OBL was hiding within their borders. When that investigation is complete, maybe then financial aid can be looked at again. And Pakistan should be allowed to defend itself in siad investigation, too. But even if we find that Pakistan should have known about OBL, it wouldn’t be right to cut off all foreign aid – money should still be given to fight poverty, create schools and provide communities with safe food and drinking water. But we can probably afford to cut back on the military aid.

In short, Pakistan, its military and its intelligence services will have a lot to answer for in the coming months, especially as more details are released about the raid and what really happened. If it’s determined that Pakistan should have known they were harboring the world’s #1 terrorist, it will look bad not only for them, but also for us – in 2010, we gave the country almost three billion.

It seems as though Pakistan and the US are strange bedfellows at the moment.

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