The Corner

National Security & Defense

How Many Americans Can Our ‘Allies’ Kill?

Earlier this week, I highlighted an excellent 60 Minutes report that reported on calls to release 28 pages redacted from the 9/11 report — pages that could provide details of a previously-undisclosed Saudi involvement in the attacks. As I said in my post, we’ve long known that our “alliance” with Saudi Arabia has put us in bed with the devil. It’s  time for us to find out how evil that devil truly is.

The same goes for Pakistan. Today, The Washington Post details allegations that Pakistani intelligence funded a deadly attack on CIA personnel at a U.S. base in Afghanistan:

The document, marked “secret” and still heavily redacted, makes a startling claim: The Pakistan government helped fund a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in 2009 that became the bloodiest attack on the CIA in a quarter-century.

“Foreign intelligence service and Haqqani network involvement in the 30 December 2009 suicide attack at [Camp] Chapman,” begins the subject line for the State Department cable, written in early 2010 by a U.S. official who was not named.

The memo, made public this week by a nonprofit group, proceeds to challenge the narrative of one of the worst days in the CIA’s history. It describes an elaborate plot in which Pakistan’s intelligence service allegedly put up $200,000 for the now-infamous bombing, which occurred when a presumed al-Qaeda informant was allowed into a secure U.S. base in Khost, Afghanistan, to meet with a team of American officers and handlers.

While the claims are controversial (a U.S. investigation pinned the blame on al Qaeda, not Pakistan or its Haqqani network allies), they shouldn’t be remotely “startling.” Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has long been suspected of “playing both sides” in the war on terror, and there is strong suspicion that the ISI actually views the Taliban as a “strategic asset.” 

Moving beyond ISI activities, insurgent access to Pakistan as a safe haven — a place where its fighters can rest, re-arm, and recruit — has proven to be of incalculable benefit to the Taliban since 9/11, and there is even evidence that the regular Pakistani army has on occasion fired on American troops. There have been so many reports of conflict that “Pakistan-United States Skirmishes” has its own Wikipedia entry.

I recognize that the needs of war sometimes require our nation to ally itself with dangerous regimes (see World War II for the most salient example), but there is still a difference between a shaky or temporary ally and an actual enemy — a nation that is trying to undermine American interests and kill Americans. In other words, there is a line, and it is worth asking (and re-asking) if Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are on the right side. 

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