Friday, March 02, 2007

Do we know who our friends are?

Here's the news. I saw it on TV tonight, but I just found it in the Times.

You've probably heard part of this story already. Cheney was over in Pakistan earlier this week, apparently to kick Musharraf's ass about cooperating with us on tracking down terrorists. He then gave an interview--correction, "a senior administration official"--gave a group interview talking about Cheney's meeting with Musharraf. The senior administration official seemed pretty well informed about the private meeting between Cheney and Musharraf, and seemed very interested in pointing out inaccuracies in press reports of this meeting.

For instance, did Cheney have this meeting to beat up on Musharraf?

A: That's not the way I work. I don't know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn't know what I'm doing, or isn't involved in it. But the idea that I'd go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.

So whoever the senior administration official is, he is apparently in a position to use the first person singular when referring to Vice President Richard Cheney.

Okay, so far it's just ridiculous, a story of a little charade Cheney and the press agreed to.

Now, here's the good part. Cheney goes over to demand that Musharraf do a better job at rounding up terrorists, and the same day, what happens? Pakistani forces pick up a terrorist, a really big one.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 1 — The former Taliban defense minister was arrested in Pakistan on Monday, the day of Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit, two government officials said Thursday. He is the most important Taliban member to be captured since the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The man, Mullah Obaidullah, was a senior leader of the Afghan insurgency, which has battled American and NATO forces with increasing intensity over the last year.

He is one of the inner core around Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban leader. The leadership is believed to operate from the relative safety of Quetta, Pakistan, where Mullah Obaidullah was arrested.

This is good news, right? After all, this is almost the top guy over there, bigger than anyone else we've picked up.

So what's the problem? Well, to hear Bush tell it, the Pakistanis are our stalwart allies, standing side by side with us, fighting terrorists and building democracy (okay, that part may not be that important). But what happened on Monday? Cheney went over, demanded that they start handing over some terrorists, and that just happens to be the day they pick up one of the biggest targets of all.

I don't think so. If they could pick him up Monday, they could pick him up Sunday. Isn't it obvious that they have known where this guy was all along, but they weren't sufficiently motivated until Vice President Senior went over and threw his weight around?

And if I'm right about that, doesn't that also mean they've been protecting him?

And if they're protecting this guy, what are the odds they aren't protecting bin Laden?

Good thing we let al Qaeda out of Tora Bora so we could invade Iraq, isn't it?


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