Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • “Trust, but verify” and Pakistan: I

    Posted by Charles Cameron on May 8th, 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
    .

    Ronald Reagan said “Trust, but verify.” Gorbachev said, “You repeat that at every meeting.” Reagan said, “I like it.”

    *

    Zen claimed a couple days ago that “Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in an ISI safe house in Abbottabad” — while here at ChicagoBoyz, Trent Telenko asserted:

    We already knew Pakistan is what we feared a nuclear-armed Iran would be — a nuclear-armed, terrorist supporting, state. Just ask India about Mumbai and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Now we know that Pakistan is attacking us too. Al Qaeda is the operational arm of Pakistani intelligence (ISI) attacking us just as Lashkar-e-Taiba is its operational arm attacking India.

    Those are “strong” versions of claims that have been made in “weaker” forms for some time now.

    *

    Thus the NY Times refers to “the belief among administration officials that some elements of the ISI may have ties to Bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban” while according to the BBC, Adm. Mike Mullen recently claimed the ISI had a “long-standing relationship” with the Haqqani network. A Guardian report used the phrase “rogue elements” in discussing recently wikileaked documents from Guantanamo:

    The documents show the varying interpretations by American officials of the apparent evidence of ISI involvement with insurgents in Afghanistan. There are repeated “analyst’s notes” in parentheses. Several in earlier documents stress that it is “rogue elements” of the ISI who actively support insurgents in Afghanistan.

    So: is it “some elements of the ISI”—or “rogue elements of the ISI” — or simply “the ISI”?

    *

    The Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate was included in the “list of terrorist and terrorist support entities identified as associate forces” in one of the leaked documents, the “JTF-GTMO Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants” with the notation:

    This list is not all inclusive but provides the primary organizations encountered in the reporting from and about JTF-GTMO detainees. Through associations with these groups and organizations, a detainee may have provided support to al-Qaida or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or Coalition forces.

    “Association with Pakistan ISID, especially in the late 1990s up to 2003” was listed in the same document as among the “the primary indicators for assessing a detainee’s membership or affiliation with the Taliban or ACM elements other than al-Qaida.”

    BTW, what happened to the ISI in 2003?

    *

    And what of Pakistan itself? is it just the ISI that’s problematic, or the entire state of Pakistan? Time magazine reports:

    CIA ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta says.

    Indeed, the problem may not be that there are rogue elements in ISI, nor that the ISI is a rogue element in Pakistan, but that Pakistan itself may be a rogue state, and a nuclear one at that.

    How simple it is to write such a sentence – and how subtle the task of understanding – not leaping to conclusions but penetratingly understanding – just what the real situation is.

    *

    As Zen says in the same post:

    It is long past time for a deep, strategic, rethink of what ends America wants to accomplish in Central Asia and some hardheaded realism about who our friends really are.

    Intelligence needs to be intelligent, and to be seen to be intelligent. Whether we trust or mistrust — we need to verify.

    [ first of three, at least ]

     

    8 Responses to ““Trust, but verify” and Pakistan: I”

    1. tehag Says:

      Does any of this multiple factions in a secret agency supporting terrorism remind anyone of Serbia?

    2. Trent Telenko Says:

      Charles,

      Please explain what you consider an assertion in my statement.

      The Part that the ISI created and used the L-e-T?

      Or do you have a reasonable explanation on how OBL and his couriers could be at The Pakistani Army’s own Flag officer gated community retirement home for five years without once going through a single ISI or Pakistani army check point around that gated community?

    3. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi Trent:

      I should probably have left out the first half of your quote — the assertion I wanted to point to was “Al Qaeda is the operational arm of Pakistani intelligence (ISI) attacking us just as Lashkar-e-Taiba is its operational arm attacking India.” To me, that came as a powerfully phrased reframing of the situation. I don’t know whether it’s an accurate reframing, but it sure has hell gave me stuff to think about.

      My response was intended to be along the lines of “that’s dynamite if true, and plausible enough to be worth examining in detail” — the trust, but verify motif in one of its many forms. And as Madhu said over on Zenpundit, “Trust but verify is a wonderful phrase but there is no way for anyone to verify. None, Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Verify doesn’t exist in this context.” I certainly doubt that anyone in a position to document the relationship between AQ and ISI would tell me about it — consider the reluctance both Pakistani and US officials have shown to admitting the Lashkar-ISI connection.

      The upcoming trial in Chicago should prove interesting, neh?

    4. Trent Telenko Says:

      Charles,

      Please explain what you consider an ‘assertion’ in my statement.

      The Part that the ISI created and used the L-e-T?

      Or do you have a reasonable explanation on how OBL and his couriers could be at The Pakistani Army’s own Flag officer gated community retirement home for five years without once going through a single ISI or Pakistani army check point around that gated community?

    5. Trent Telenko Says:

      Charles,

      We have 1.7 terabytes of OBL files that will tell us the truth.

      Either the President make clear it isn’t true. Or the Next Republican presidential candidate will eat Obama alive.

    6. Charles Cameron Says:

      Trent:

      We have 1.7 terabytes of OBL files that will tell us the truth.

      I doubt I’ll be one of those who is privy what’s in those files… but if I am, and if the truth as revealed is that ISI has been running AQ as a subsidiary, then the fan will need a very thorough cleansing…

      [ btw, was your 5.08pm repeat of your 7.10am post an error, or a deliberate restatement because you thought I’d entirely missed your point? — I wonder if we’re “talking past” one another… ]

    7. onparkstreet Says:

      Charles: I was unclear in my comments at zenpundit (and I’ve addressed this in detail in another of your posts.)

      I was referring to the concept of “plausible deniability.”

      The system is set up so that such verification can’t really take place because the highest actors protect themselves by things like the S Wing. They allow such groups room to maneuver and then can say: “but I didn’t know anything about it.” The point is that they never challenge the groups. Like how one jihadi group is shut down by the state and then reforms under another name. Everyone knows it is going on but no one really does anything about it. It’s meant to be that way.

      – Madhu

    8. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi Madhu:

      Yup. I’m not sure how sure Lawrence Wright can be about the existence of the “S Wing” because such things are inherently both deniable and rumorable, if I may coin a word. But rumor and denial seem to be as close to factual evidence as most of us can come, at least until Wikileaks or someone springs a leak — which leaves us making interpretations and inferences with more “trust” (or “mistrust”) than “verify”. We may, of course, be making valid inferences…

      For me as a thinker, though, that’s a bit uncomfortable. For a decision-maker, it may be demanded, necessary, unavoidable, inevitable.