WASHINGTON: A treasure trove of US documents implicating Pakistan in its support for terrorism exploded in the public domain on Sunday, sending officials in both countries scurrying to defend a dubious alliance and straining a phony partnership based on a misreading of the ground sentiment and situation.
WikiLeaks, a whistleblower organization that publishes sensitive government leaks from anonymous sources, put a staggering 91,000 documents, mainly ground reports from US military personnel, in public domain on Sunday. Many of the documents exposed Pakistan’s double-faced policy of fuelling terrorism in Afghanistan while claiming to be fighting it as an US ally.
In effect, the chronicles suggested that Washington was blindly paying Pakistan massive amounts of money for access to Afghanistan even as Islamabad uses its spy agency, ISI, to plot the death of American and Nato troops, allied Indian personnel, and undermines US policy. The most devastating leaks showed that Pakistan allows representatives of its spy service, ISI, to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize attacks against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders, including President Hamid Karzai.
WikiLeaks worked with three media organizations–The New York Times, Germany’s Der Spiegel and The Guardian–to make sense of the massive cache of documents, while not disclosing how it got hold of it. Stunned Washington experts compared it to the leaking of the Pentagon papers during the Vietnam War. What the cache highlighted most was the continuing Pakistani perfidy, and American credulity in accepting Islamabad as an ally and funnelling billions of dollars in aid even as it helped plot US downfall in the region and killed American soldiers.
“Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harboured strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants,” the New York Times said in its assessment of the report. “The records also contain firsthand accounts of American anger at Pakistan’s unwillingness to confront insurgents who launched attacks near Pakistani border posts, moved openly by the truckload across the frontier and retreated to Pakistani territory for safety,” it continued.
“The behind-the-scenes frustrations of soldiers on the ground and glimpses of what appear to be Pakistani skullduggery contrast sharply with the frequently rosy public pronouncements of Islamabad as an ally by American officials looking to sustain a drone campaign over parts of Pakistani territory to strike at Qaida havens,” it added.
That policy of ambivalence and appeasement continued even into the hours after the WikiLeaks expose, as US and Pakistani officials rushed to control the damage. US national security advisor James Jones condemned the “disclosure of classified documents by individuals and organizations”, which, he said, “could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security”, when, in effect, the documents suggest it is Washington’s appeasement of Pakistan which is doing that.
US officials also argued that the documents posted by WikiLeaks covered a period from January 2004 to December 2009 and pre-dated President Barack Obama’s new strategy announced on December 1, 2009, when they suggested there began a turnaround “with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on Al Qaida and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years”.
“I don’t think anyone who follows this issue will find it surprising that there are concerns about the ISI and safe havens in Pakistan. In fact, we’ve said as much repeatedly and on the record,” one official explained. “The period of time covered in these documents (January 2004-December 2009) is before the President announced his new strategy. Some of the disconcerting things reported are exactly why the President ordered a three-month policy review and a change in strategy.”
But the official also cast aspersions on WikiLeaks and its motive, saying, “It’s worth noting that WikiLeaks is not an objective news outlet but rather an organization that opposes the US policy in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan, as usual, reacted with fury to the disclosures, calling the leaks “malicious and unsubstantiated”. An unnamed official in Islamabad was quoted as saying, “They were from raw intelligence reports that had not been verified and were meant to impugn the reputation of the spy agency.”
A more restrained reaction came from Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani (whose book chronicles the Pakistani military’s jihadi connections and outlook). “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities,” Haqqani said, plying the current Washington-Islamabad line that whatever happened was in the past.
‘Out-of-the-box’ CIA think tank proposes concerns over women’s rights, fear of terrorism as ways to boost support for Afghan war
Evidently spooked by the collapse of the Dutch governmentover the country’s involvement in Afghanistan, the CIA has put together a strategy proposal to prevent what it fears could be a “precipitous” collapse of support for the war in Afghanistan among European allies.
A document marked “confidential / not for foreign eyes,” posted to the Wikileaks Web site, suggests strategies to manipulate European public opinion on the war, particularly in France and Germany.
The document doesn’t propose any direct methods by which the CIA could achieve this — there are no references to planting propaganda in the press, for example — but it does lay out what it sees as the key talking points to changing hearts and minds on the war. Among its proposals, the policy paper suggests playing up the plight of Afghan women to French audiences, as the French public has shown concern for women’s rights in Afghanistan.
For the German audience, the document suggests a measure of fear-mongering about the possible fallout of NATO failure in Afghanistan. “Germanyâ€™s exposure to terrorism, opium, and refugees might help to make the war more salient to skeptics,” the document asserts.
Read the report here, courtesy of Wikileaks.
The policy paper was prepared by a group called the “CIA Red Cell,” which describes itself as having been tasked “with taking a pronounced ‘out-of-the-box’ approach that will provoke thought and offer an alternative viewpoint on the full range of analytic issues.”
“The fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan demonstrates the fragility of European support for the NATO-led ISAF mission,” the document states. “Some NATO states, notably France and Germany, have counted on public apathy about Afghanistan to increase their contributions to the mission, but indifference might turn into active hostility if spring and summer fighting results in an upsurge in military or Afghan civilian casualties.”
The CIA report notes that 80 percent of the French and German public are opposed to the war, but offers a loophole: Public apathy, which has allowed European leaders to extend and broaden their involvement in Afghanistan despite deep opposition.
But “if some forecasts of a bloody summer in Afghanistan come to pass, passive French and German dislike of their troop presence could turn into active and politically potent hostility,” the report states.
GET OBAMA INVOLVED
The CIA Red Cell points out that President Obama continues to enjoy popular support in Europe at levels he has not seen in the US in months. The report suggests getting the president involved in selling the Afghanistan war to Europeans.
“The confidence of the French and German publics in President Obamaâ€™s ability to handle foreign affairs in general and Afghanistan in particular suggest that they would be receptive to his direct affirmation of their importance to the ISAF missionâ€”and sensitive to direct expressions of disappointment in allies who do not help,” the report states.
The report notes that “when [opinion poll] respondents were reminded that President Obama himself had asked for increased deployments to Afghanistan, their support for granting this request increased dramatically, from 4 to 15 percent among French respondents and from 7 to 13 percent among Germans.”
To change French minds, the CIA Red Cell proposes linking the Afghanistan war to the effort to improve women’s rights in Afghanistan. It also proposes pointing out that the Afghanistan mission is more popular in Afghanistan than it is in Europe, at least according to the statistics cited in the report.
“Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of womenâ€™s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory,” the report asserts.
“Highlighting Afghansâ€™ broad support for ISAF could underscore the missionâ€™s positive impact on civilians. About two-thirds of Afghans support the presence of ISAF forces in Afghanistan, according to a reliable … poll conducted in December 2009,” the report states.
For the German public, the message should be somewhat different, the report states. “Messages that dramatize the consequences of a NATO defeat for specific German interests could counter the widely held perception that Afghanistan is not Germanyâ€™s problem. For example, messages that illustrate how a defeat in Afghanistan could heighten Germanyâ€™s exposure to terrorism, opium, and refugees might help to make the war more salient to skeptics.”
Numerous news reports in recent years have suggested that the CIA is more deeply involved in the Afghanistan war than it has been in previous wars. For instance, when news broke that seven CIA agents had been killed in a suicide bombing at a forward operating base, it highlighted the fact that the CIA has been operating essentially as a branch of the military in Afghanistan, running the unmanned aerial drone strikes against the Taliban.
That suicide bombing also highlighted the difficulties the agency faces in getting a grasp on the situation in the Central Asian country. CIA operatives had believed Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the suicide bomber, was willing to work as an informant for them. They were apparently so completely unaware of his status as a double agent that they had prepared a birthday party for himin advance of his arrival, when he proceeded to blow himself up.
By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI Associated Press Writer © 2010 The Associated Press
March 22, 2010, 5:09PM
HOUSTON — Halliburton Co. and KBR Inc. have withdrawn an appeal asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block a lawsuit by a former military contractor who says she was raped by KBR co-workers in Iraq.
KBR said in a statement Monday that it withdrew the appeal to not risk violating a recently passed federal provision it called “very broad and vague,” that restricts the Defense Department from doing business with companies that prohibit employees from seeking redress for certain crimes through the courts.
“As a result, KBR did not want to risk being in violation of the amendment, so the company withdrew its petition,” KBR said in a statement.
Diana Gabriel, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, also confirmed the appeal was withdrawn but declined to elaborate.
Jamie Leigh Jones, of Texas, sued the companies after she says she was raped while working for KBR in Baghdad in 2005. KBR and Halliburton split in 2007.
The companies argued that Jones’ contract required claims against them be settled through arbitration.
But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided with Jones in September, saying her case could go to trial.
A trial date has been set for May 2011, Jones’ attorney Todd Kelly said.
Now that the Supreme Court appeal has been withdrawn, “it looks like we’re headed for trial,” said Kelly, who is based in Houston.
The Associated Press usually doesn’t name people alleging sexual assault, but Jones’ identity has been broadcast in media reports and on her own Web site.
No one has been charged in Jones’ case or in any other alleged sexual assaults on women who did civilian work in Iraq. At least three women have testified before Congress about being sexually assaulted or harassed while working as military contractors in Iraq.
Saturday, March 6, 2010 – 9am – 6pm (Music 7-10pm)
Sunday, March 7, 2010 – 9am – 6pm
(Please note the Sunday beginning and end times have changed from 10-5pm TO 9-6pm)
Valley Forge Convention Center
1160 First Avenue
King of Prussia, PA 19406
$35 – Pre-order regular weekend pass.
$20 – Pre-order discounted (students, 65+, military, & the unemployed) weekend pass.
$40 – “At the door” regular weekend pass.
$30 – “At the door” discounted (students, 65+, military, & the unemployed) weekend pass.
$25 – “At the door” one-day pass. No pre-order prices available for one-day passes.
A two-day non-partisan conference with speakers, movie clips & music discussing our current state of affairs and how we got here. From 9/11, the “wars on terror” and the private, not public, Federal Reserve to the undermining of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
via Patriot Acts 1 & 2, to connecting the dots between different events that go unreported (or under-reported), as a whole, in our mainstream media. Calling on left & right truth-seekers to find common ground and work together to help revive our country! Come learn what many do not know, but what many are waking up to. Knowledge is power.
To pre-order tickets, please go to the “Ticket Reservations” tab.
Publice Service Announcement (Radio Spot):