[ by Charles Cameron ]
Ronald Reagan said “Trust, but verify.” Gorbachev said, “You repeat that at every meeting.” Reagan said, “I like it.”
We already knew Pakistan is what we feared a nuclear-armed Iran would be — a nuclear-armed, terrorist supporting, state. Just ask India about Mumbai and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Now we know that Pakistan is attacking us too. Al Qaeda is the operational arm of Pakistani intelligence (ISI) attacking us just as Lashkar-e-Taiba is its operational arm attacking India.
Those are “strong” versions of claims that have been made in “weaker” forms for some time now.
Thus the NY Times refers to “the belief among administration officials that some elements of the ISI may have ties to Bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban” while according to the BBC, Adm. Mike Mullen recently claimed the ISI had a “long-standing relationship” with the Haqqani network. A Guardian report used the phrase “rogue elements” in discussing recently wikileaked documents from Guantanamo:
The documents show the varying interpretations by American officials of the apparent evidence of ISI involvement with insurgents in Afghanistan. There are repeated “analyst’s notes” in parentheses. Several in earlier documents stress that it is “rogue elements” of the ISI who actively support insurgents in Afghanistan.
So: is it “some elements of the ISI”—or “rogue elements of the ISI” — or simply “the ISI”?
The Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate was included in the “list of terrorist and terrorist support entities identified as associate forces” in one of the leaked documents, the “JTF-GTMO Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants” with the notation:
This list is not all inclusive but provides the primary organizations encountered in the reporting from and about JTF-GTMO detainees. Through associations with these groups and organizations, a detainee may have provided support to al-Qaida or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or Coalition forces.
“Association with Pakistan ISID, especially in the late 1990s up to 2003” was listed in the same document as among the “the primary indicators for assessing a detainee’s membership or affiliation with the Taliban or ACM elements other than al-Qaida.”
BTW, what happened to the ISI in 2003?
And what of Pakistan itself? is it just the ISI that’s problematic, or the entire state of Pakistan? Time magazine reports:
CIA ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta says.
Indeed, the problem may not be that there are rogue elements in ISI, nor that the ISI is a rogue element in Pakistan, but that Pakistan itself may be a rogue state, and a nuclear one at that.
How simple it is to write such a sentence – and how subtle the task of understanding – not leaping to conclusions but penetratingly understanding – just what the real situation is.
As Zen says in the same post:
It is long past time for a deep, strategic, rethink of what ends America wants to accomplish in Central Asia and some hardheaded realism about who our friends really are.
Intelligence needs to be intelligent, and to be seen to be intelligent. Whether we trust or mistrust — we need to verify.
[ first of three, at least ]