Sunday, January 06, 2008

When "covert" isn't so covert...

Ah yes.. the New York Times lack of common sense and objectivity strikes again. Today's article, U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan by Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt is a mixture of jaw dropping stupidity and a somewhat cogent overview of the "what to do with Pakistan" situation.

After stating that the US admin, advisers and military were considering different options to aid in keeping Pakistan and it's nukes from spiraling into hands of jihadists, the NYT's defies all strategic logic in exposing (if true) how many US troops are present in Pakistan, and their proposed tangent for such a "covert" thrust.

Many of the specific options under discussion are unclear and highly classified. Officials said that the options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with the military’s Special Operations forces.


The new options for expanded covert operations include loosening restrictions on the C.I.A. to strike selected targets in Pakistan, in some cases using intelligence provided by Pakistani sources, officials said. Most counterterrorism operations in Pakistan have been conducted by the C.I.A.; in Afghanistan, where military operations are under way, including some with NATO forces, the military can take the lead.

The legal status would not change if the administration decided to act more aggressively. However, if the C.I.A. were given broader authority, it could call for help from the military or deputize some forces of the Special Operations Command to act under the authority of the agency.

The United States now has about 50 soldiers in Pakistan. Any expanded operations using C.I.A. operatives or Special Operations forces, like the Navy Seals, would be small and tailored to specific missions, military officials said.

First off, just how "covert" is a plan - even sans specifics - when said plan is broadcast to the world by journalists interested merely in scoops and ratings? Might as well tell the enemy what phone lines to tap, what areas to concentrate added vigilance. What dodoheads.... Is there some journalistic "hypocritical (misspelling intentional) oath" taken when you pick up a pen that states you will have no loyalty to your country, your family and the nation's safety?

Secondly, the fact that US officials are discussing Pakistan options is NOT news. Discussing these options is what a CIC is expected to do... get input from advisers, kick around ideas, plan for all contingencies. You don't leave things like this to last minute planning.

Last I emphatically doubt, given Bush's very predictable MO over the years and understanding of Musharraf vunerability as a US ally, that he'd head willy-nilly into Pakistan without Musharraf's blessings, as Barak Obama boldly states he'd do, with revolvers loaded and bullets flying. Makes you wonder just who is the "Cowboy" here? I suggest that Obama's utter naivety of the enemy and their relationships to ME countries has become embarrassingly apparent.

Then we move to "Ms. Experience", Hillary. For one touting such unequalled insight, she proves herself to be almost as naive as Obama - suggesting that her WH admin would propose that the Pakistan nukes would have joint US-British oversight.

If elected President, the US senator said, "I would try to get (Pakistan President Pervez) Musharraf to share the security responsibility of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the United States and, perhaps, Great Britain, so that there is some fail-safe."

No Pakistani response to Clinton's Manchester, NH suggestion yet. But I'll bet dollars to donuts it won't get a big thumbs up... Guess that "learn on the job" applies even to the Dems' "most qualified". Hopefully... as blue or red, they are my President... that at least *learn*.. and in time.

But back to the NYTs, spilling the beans. If the officials did came up with a plan to present to Pakistan and Musharraf - now "not so covertly" - the correct channel of communication is *not* from three overly ambitious paper hacks. Intent questionable writers who are either unaware, or don't care, that the mere discussion of intervention will not sit well with Pakistan leadership.

And sure nuff...
Pakistan responds to the NYTs article. And not with any great affection for "the plan", nor the information laid out (off the record) by the journalists.

The Pakistani military reacted angrily Sunday to reports that U.S. President George W. Bush is considering covert military operations in the country's volatile tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

"It is not up to the U.S. administration, it is Pakistan's government who is responsible for this country," chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told AFP.

"There are no overt or covert U.S. operations inside Pakistan. Such reports are baseless and we reject them."

Nice going, you idiots. Certainly no ambassador material found in these three.... Their glaringly poor judgement in writing the "breaking news" that the WH admin is doing it's job caused the predictable diplomatic muddying of the water. One can only assume the authors wished to create waves of tension for tomorrow's story. And this, from any journalist, is unacceptable to me.

But I did say one kind thing about the article. It does lay out the quandary well... fully admitting the problems any unwelcome US intervention may cause. Too they didn't heed, or comprehend, their own words and warnings. They instead riled up our allies with what is virtually a non-story.

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