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 

US Military Open To Gay Soldiers?

It didn’t seem so long ago that a court ruled that gay marriages be allowed.  It was in August to be exact.   The presiding judge wrote on simple sentence that will hopefully someday have profound impact upon America.

“The evidence presented at trial and the position of representatives of the state of California show that an injunction against enforcement of Proposition 8 is in the public’s interest.”

In many ways, it is a reminder of a line from the January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation address by President Abraham Lincoln:

“And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.”

The gay community is no longer an unknown or a mystery, with many well known celebrities that have shown their pride, including Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, and Rosie O’Donnell.  They are human beings like us, and do not deserve to be treated as second class citizens, much like minorities were treated in the ’60s.

It seems fitting that the line from the Emancipation Proclamation refers to a military necessity for the proclamation.  The military of today faces a crisis in terms of meeting recruitment quotas to fill the needs of the military, with more young men and women disillusioned by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Others have become aware that enjoying a free education while serving in the National Guard requires payment, the price being active duty service as needed.

With a need to fill recruitment goals, why are a segment of the population being turned away, on the basis of sexual orientation.  Men and women in the military are about as likely, if not more likely, to be assaulted sexual by the opposite sex than they are to be assaulted by someone of the opposite sex.

Ultimately, gay soldiers are not going to climb into your bunk or foxhole and rape you.  Can it happen?  Of course, it has happened to heterosexuals. Does that mean we need to ban heterosexual men and women from the service?  When people, irrespective of their sexual orientation or race, are willing to put their lives at risk to defense our country, what right have we to take that privilege away from them?

It reminds me of a quote from Glory, where Denzel Washington’s character, a soldier in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment , states “A black soldier can stop a bullet as good as a white soldier…”  The same truth goes for a gay soldier.  Soldiering is not for the faint of heart, and if a gay soldier has the courage and fortitude to risk life and limb to protect a country that won’t accept them, they deserve our respect.

Main Image(Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AT4RW20101130)

A recent study conducted by the Pentagon found that most in the military do not mind gays serving amonst them, and that they do not feel threatened.

The Pentagon unveiled a study on Tuesday that predicted little impact if the U.S. military ended its ban on gays, bolstering President Barack Obama’s push to get Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by year-end….At least 13,000 men and women have been expelled from the military since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which allows gays to serve in the armed forces as long as they keep their sexual orientation private, came into force in 1993….The study dismissed as exaggerated notions that ending the ban would lead to overt promiscuity, widespread “effeminacy” among men and “unwelcome advances.” It also opposed separate living quarters or bathrooms for gay or lesbian troops, a possibility raised in the past by some in the U.S. military.

 The Pentagon report continued discussing concerns and implications of repealing the ban, and citing concerns:

(Reuters) – A majority of the U.S. military does not object to lifting the ban on gays serving openly in uniform, except for predominantly male combat units which show greater resistance to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a Pentagon study said Tuesday.

It could have a significant impact on President Barack Obama’s push for Congress to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy by year-end.  The policy, adopted in 1993, bars gays from openly serving in the military, but allows them to serve as long as they keep their sexual orientation private.  Following are some of the report’s key recommendations:

STANDARDS OF CONDUCT
Service members expressed concerns about conduct such as public displays of affection, dress, appearance, and violence, harassment, or disrespect between homosexual and heterosexual members.
“We do recommend … that the Department of Defense issue generalized guidance to the Services that all standards of personal and professional conduct must apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation.”

MORAL AND RELIGIOUS CONCERNS
A large number of service members raised religious and moral objections to homosexuality and some of the “most intense and sharpest divergence of views” were among the roughly 3,000 military chaplains.
The report concluded that Service members already co-exist, work and fight together, despite sharply different religious convictions and values such as on abortion.

UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE
“We recommend modification to the prohibition on sodomy in Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and a corresponding change to the Manual for Courts-Martial (which implements the UCMJ and provides rules, policies, and procedures for UCMJ prosecutions).”
“Article 125 of the UCMJ treats all acts of sodomy, heterosexual, homosexual, consensual, or otherwise, as punishable conduct.”

PRIVACY and COHABITATION
A number of Service members were uncomfortable about sharing bathroom facilities or living quarters with someone known to be gay or lesbian.

 A copy of the s can be found here in PDF format, Report on the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

A poll of the American public also found greater tolerence in their willingness to accept gays in the mliitary.

 Most Americans favor allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the U.S. military, a poll released on Monday by the Pew Research Center showed.   The poll findings are the latest to indicate public support for a repeal of the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning gays from openly serving in the U.S. military and come a day before a long-awaited Pentagon report on the matter.

Of course, some in the government are not so eager to embrace a change that is long due.  Even Arizona Senator John McCain advocated caution, that the military may not be ready for this change.

A top Republican warned on Thursday it might be too soon to end the U.S. military’s ban on gays, as the party geared up to block President Barack Obama’s bid to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year.  “I am not saying this law should never change. I am simply saying that it may be premature to make such a change at this time, and in this manner,” said Senator John McCain, addressing the U.S. defense secretary and top military officer as they appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  McCain and some fellow Republicans on the committee also caste doubt on the conclusions and methodology of a Pentagon study released two days ago that predicted little impact if the 17-year-old policy were ended.

Is this true?  Are we truly not ready to show tolerence for those who are different?  After all, isn’t this country founded on the principle of tolerence?  Then again, the United States was virtually last in freeing slaves.  It should come as no surprise that other nations openly embrace gay soldiers amongst their ranks.   Some of the nations that allow gays to serve are Taiwan, Philippines, and South Korea, to name a few.

NEFF: The Defence Department working group report which was just released on Tuesday here, showed as well the republic of Korea, that South Korea was among the nations that also allowed openly gay service, and this is the Defence Department’s report on foreign military that it used to provide input to members of Congress about the way forward for the US.

LAM: What about Japan? I understand Japan has no rules applying to gay personnel, is that right?

NEFF: Japan and Singapore also fell into sort of an indeterminate or undetermined category for the Defence Department’s review and I think they are seeking further clarification there.

 Only time will tell if society and the military have reached a point where we can now accept gays equally within the Armed Forces. 

This article was simultaneously published with permission on both www.Military-Discussion.com and www.Issues-Today.com, as the topic is relevant to both websites.