Is Asylum Moral?

The current battles between Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and the Syrian opposition protesters has been one of the top news stories in recent weeks.   It is believed that over 2,000 people have been killed in fighting as Assad attempts to keep power.

However, I want to bring in a piece of information from this saga that has gotten far less coverage.  According to El Pais (via Bloomberg News), Spain was prepared in July to offer Assad asylum as a way of ending the violence.  According to the story (2nd to last paragraph), “Spain sent a secret mission to Syria in July in an attempt to help end the violence and is prepared to offer asylum to Assad and his family, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported yesterday, citing unidentified diplomats.”
(Source:  Bloomberg News

Similarly, there are reports that Libya’s blood leader, Muammar Gaddafi, may also be ready to seek asylum.  Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (via MEMRI) reported that there are planes ready to take Gaddafi to Venezuela as long as several of his conditions are met, such as NATO troops pulling out of Libya.  Like Assad, Gaddafi has thousands of deaths on his hands and he has been tied to supporting terrorists throughout the world.
(Source:  MEMRI Blog

So here is where I struggle with this.  On one hand, I understand that asylum allows for a quick and relatively painless end to violence.  On the other hand, it also guarantees that these two deadly leaders will never have to face justice for their crimes.  They will get to live happily ever after, likely in a life of luxury funded from money stolen from their own people.  I think most people want an end to the current murderous fighting but should Gaddafi and Assad be like the multitude of Nazis who evaded prosecution by escaping to foreign countries? Do the people of Libya and Syria deserve a chance to bring these men to trial or should they just be thankful that the fighting is over?

Further, what does this say about Venezuela and Spain?  Should we consider these countries morally admirable for their willingness to help or morally reprehensible for their willingness to protect known killers?

What do you think?  Talk back and give your opinion!

Whose Side Is Pakistan On?

  News is coming out that Pakistan has arrested five informants who assisted the CIA and the US in finding Bin Laden.  This after Pakistan’s own “cooperation” resulted in several “near” captures, which may have been due to the Pakistani’s tipping off Bin Laden before each attempt to capture him.  This has to bring up more questions about our relationship with Pakistan, and if we should continue our relationship with them, considering they recently were offered 50 jet fighters from China.  One has to wonder if China was just being generous, or if China was really giving the jet fighters as payment for access to the stealth helicoptor wreckage from the raid to kill Bin Laden.  Is Pakistan truly a friend of the US, or just playing games?

 From The New York TImes:

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid

By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.

A casualty of the recent tension between the countries is an ambitious Pentagon program to train Pakistani paramilitary troops to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the northwestern tribal areas.

Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

At a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael J. Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director, to rate Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10.

“Three,” Mr. Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange.

The fate of the C.I.A. informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, but American officials said that the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers.

Some in Washington see the arrests as illustrative of the disconnect between Pakistani and American priorities at a time when they are supposed to be allies in the fight against Al Qaeda — instead of hunting down the support network that allowed Bin Laden to live comfortably for years, the Pakistani authorities are arresting those who assisted in the raid that killed the world’s most wanted man.

The Bin Laden raid and more recent attacks by militants in Pakistan have been blows to the country’s military, a revered institution in the country. Some officials and outside experts said the military is mired in its worst crisis of confidence in decades.

American officials cautioned that Mr. Morell’s comments about Pakistani support was a snapshot of the current relationship, and did not represent the administration’s overall assessment.

“We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise,” said Marie E. Harf, a C.I.A. spokeswoman. “Director Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It’s a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs.”

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in a brief telephone interview that the C.I.A. and the Pakistani spy agency “are working out mutually agreeable terms for their cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage.”

Over the past several weeks the Pakistani military has been distancing itself from American intelligence and counterterrorism operations against militant groups in Pakistan. This has angered many in Washington who believe that Bin Laden’s death has shaken Al Qaeda and that there is now an opportunity to further weaken the terrorist organization with more raids and armed drone strikes.

But in recent months, dating approximately to when a C.I.A. contractor killed two Pakistanis on a street in the eastern city of Lahore in January, American officials said that Pakistani spies from the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, known as the ISI, have been generally unwilling to carry out surveillance operations for the C.I.A. The Pakistanis have also resisted granting visas allowing American intelligence officers to operate in Pakistan, and have threatened to put greater restrictions on the drone flights.

It is the future of the drone program that is a particular worry for the C.I.A. American officials said that during his meetings in Pakistan last week, Mr. Panetta was particularly forceful about trying to get Pakistani officials to allow armed drones to fly over even wider areas in the northwest tribal regions. But the C.I.A. is already preparing for the worst: relocating some of the drones from Pakistan to a base in Afghanistan, where they can take off and fly east across the mountains and into the tribal areas, where terrorist groups find safe haven.

Another casualty of the recent tension is an ambitious Pentagon program to train Pakistani paramilitary troops to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban in those same tribal areas. That program has ended, both American and Pakistani officials acknowledge, and the last of about 120 American military advisers have left the country.

American officials are now scrambling to find temporary jobs for about 50 Special Forces support personnel who had been helping the trainers with logistics and communications. Their visas were difficult to obtain and officials fear if these troops are sent home, Pakistan will not allow them to return.

In a sign of the growing anger on Capitol Hill, Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who leads the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that he believed elements of the ISI and the military had helped protect Bin Laden.

Mr. Rogers, who met with senior security officials in Pakistan last week, said he had no evidence that senior Pakistani military or civilian leaders were complicit in sheltering Bin Laden. And he did not offer any proof to support his assertion, saying only his accusation was based on “information that I’ve seen.”

He warned that both lawmakers and the Obama administration could end up putting more restrictions on the $2 billion in American military aid received annually by Pakistan. He also called for “benchmarks” in the relationship, including more sharing of information about militant activities in Karachi, Lahore and elsewhere and more American access to militants detained in Pakistan.

American military commanders in Afghanistan appear cautiously optimistic that they are making progress in pushing the Taliban from its strongholds in that country’s south, but many say a significant American military withdrawal can occur only if the warring sides in Afghanistan broker some kind of peace deal.

But the United States is reliant on Pakistan to apply pressure on Taliban leaders, over whom they have historically had great influence.

For now, at least, America’s relationship with Pakistan keeps getting tripped up. When he visited Pakistan, Mr. Panetta offered evidence of collusion between Pakistani security officials and the militants staging attacks in Afghanistan.

American officials said Mr. Panetta presented satellite photographs of two bomb-making factories that American spies several weeks ago had asked the ISI to raid. When Pakistani troops showed up days later, the militants were gone, causing American officials to question whether the militants had been warned by someone on the Pakistani side.

Shortly after the failed raids, the Defense Department put a hold on a $300 million payment reimbursing Pakistan for the cost of deploying more than 100,000 troops along the border with Afghanistan, two officials said. The Pentagon declined to comment on the payment, except to say it was “continuing to process several claims.”

Osama Bin Laden Dead… Or Is He?

With the leader of al Qaeda confirmed dead only a few minutes ago, many conspiracy theories are flying around about whether or not Osama Bin Laden is actually dead.  The official US government position is that he is dead, and they are planning to release photos to prove that he is dead, but it isn’t hard to doctor a photo to prove he is dead.  This begs the question, why would you kill Bin Laden rather than try to capture him?  While the government will claim it was impossible to do  so, it is known the government will go to extraordinary means to secure something if they believe it is worthwhile, even if it costs lives and monetary resources.

What is the greatest benefit of capturing Bin Laden?  He is likely a wealth of information of al Qaeda’s activites worldwide.  Getting him to sing like a canary would allow the US to shut down entire swaths of terrorist networks much quickly, and prevent them from sprouting up again when you can take out the entire network, leaving no one experienced behind to restart it.  Of course it would likely be costly.  Terrorist groups worldwide would begin attacks and taking hostages in order to secure his release.  The amount of terrorist activity could be staggering if he was alive.

What are some of the benefits of killing Bin Laden over capturing him?   You avoid a large scale response of terrorist incidents worldwide trying to secure his release.  It’s inevitable you will still get retaliation, but it would not be as wide spread since there would be no hope of securing the release of a dead man.  Not to mention, someone officially “declared” dead would be easier to dispose of without a trial and executed, than someone alive who would require interrogation, a trial, and massive security forces to protect the location where he was being held, and protecting his tranport to and from trial.

The most likely scenario is that he was captured, and his death faked to avoid the worldwide terrorist response of seeking his release, and avoiding having to provide a trial.  It is far more likely the US government is seeking to use him for information, after they manage to break him, which is inevitable, since no one can withstand continuous torture indefinitely.  Not to mention, a “dead” man can be tortured, because there will be no need to ensure his bruises and brutality was not visible during trial.

Regardless of whether he is alive or not, the news that his DNA is virtually confirmed, and whether he is dead or tucked away in the deepest hole in the planet, his capture is a victory for the free world.  Below is the article from Fox News regarding the DNA testing to identify Bin Laden.

From http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/02/dna-proves-bin-ladens-death-obama-officials-say/

DNA Proves Usama Bin Laden’s Death, Obama Officials Say

Two Obama administration officials say DNA evidence has proven that Usama bin Laden is dead, with 99.9 percent confidence.

The officials did not immediately say where or how the testing was done, but the test explains why President Obama was confident to announce bin Laden’s death to the world Sunday night.

A senior U.S. official told Fox News that a Navy SEAL from Team Six, a top military counterterrorism unit, identified Bin Laden by his face. The official said the Al Qaeda leader did not appear to be ravaged or starved from his years in hiding, saying it appeared Bin Laden had been living well. 

The official also said the SEALs used “facial recognition pulls” to confirm Bin Laden’s identity on site by comparing his height, ears, nose and mouth to known photos of him. 

The official said the White House is still deciding on when and how to released the photo of Bin Laden to avoid any conspiracy theories about his death. The official said it is believed that only the U.S. is in possession of the photo.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report