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This Had Better Not Be True UPDATED

With friends like this...

From ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross' blog:

Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted man, will not face capture in Pakistan if he agrees to lead a "peaceful life," Pakistani officials tell ABC News.

The surprising announcement comes as Pakistani army officials announced they were pulling their troops out of the North Waziristan region as part of a "peace deal" with the Taliban.

If he is in Pakistan, bin Laden "would not be taken into custody," Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan told ABC News in a telephone interview, "as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen."

Bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, but U.S. officials say his precise location is unknown.

In addition to the pullout of Pakistani troops, the "peace agreement" between Pakistan and the Taliban also provides for the Pakistani army to return captured Taliban weapons and prisoners.

"What this means is that the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership have effectively carved out a sanctuary inside Pakistan," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism director.

The agreement was signed on the same day President Bush said the United States was working with its allies "to deny terrorists the enclaves they seek to establish in ungoverned areas across the world."
If true this is simply astounding. If true it means that in effect our entire effort in Afghanistan has been a waste of time.

Let me repeat that. If this is true then we have failed in our primary effort to deny Al Qaeda a home base. If this is true we are quite simply wasting our time in Afghanistan.

We can argue Iraq back and forth, one way or the other, but Afghanistan was a clean, pure, just war. The Taliban aided Al Qaeda. In fact the Taliban and Al Qaeda were overlapping entities, each a part of the other. Our action in going into Afghanistan to take down the Taliban was absolutely, 100%, no two ways about it, justified. Al Qaeda needed killing, and the Taliban needed killing.

But if Pakistan has now effectively ceded a part of Pakistan to the Taliban/Qaeda then we are pretty close to being back at square one. Square one minus a square, actually, because now Al Qaeda has a piece of Iraq and very likely a vacation home in Somalia.

Why did we fail to get Osama? Because when he was cornered at Tora Bora we relied on indigenous troops -- men with a per capita income of two packs of cigarettes, men with a long history of disregarding stuffy rules and inconvenient promises -- to catch a wily, highly motivated millionaire. We didn't send the 10th Mountain, we sent the the locals. My guess? Osama bought his way out with an old Timex and a box of Kalashnikov ammo.

We were casualty averse and undermanned and we let Osama walk and now he is apparently keeping house with Mullah Omar in the Pakistani Ozarks with a free pass from our good friend the military dictator, nuclear-armed terror sponsor and champion nuclear proliferator, General Musharraf.

UPDATE: The Pakistanis now vehemently deny saying any such thing.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The top Pakistani army spokesman on Wednesday vehemently denied saying in a news report that saying Osama bin Laden would not be taken into custody if he agreed to live peacefully in Pakistan.

"This is absolutely fabricated, absurd. I never said this," Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan told The Associated Press, referring to an ABC News broadcast aired hours earlier.
At the same time they have not yet apparently denied the thrust of the underlying military story, the retreat of the Pakistani army from Waziristan and the effective truce with the Taliban.

UPDATED Analysis: If the Sherriff cedes outlaw country to the outlaws it follows that he has no intention of arresting same. So if the underlying (and not yet denied as far as I can tell) story of a peace deal between the Pakistani Army and the Tribal/Taliban/Qaeda leaders to stay out of the tribal areas is true, then denials like the one above are meaningless.

In other words, I don't believe the denials. I believe one Pakistani general blurted out the truth and was then called down by his bosses for endangering US aid with his big mouth.

If the Pakistani Army has agreed to stay out of the tribal areas then yes, Osama, Al Zawahiri and Mullah Omar have found a safe haven just miles from where they were five years ago.

Dave at Glittering Eye has this take, Bill Roggio has this view.

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“This Had Better Not Be True UPDATED”

  1. Blogger Dave Schuler Says:

    I've posted a hipshot reaction to the story back in the comments section you info'd me in, M. Takhallus.

    As I've mentioned before I was opposed to both the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and, in the case of Afghanistan, never believed that capturing or killing OBL was an achievable objective (at least not without levelling a big chunk of Afghanistan—IMO disproportionate force).

    The success we did achieve early on in Afghanistan was, IMO, a direct result of the small footprint force used there, effectively performing as an air force and logistics for anti-Taliban warlords. A larger force would have threatened achieving what we did do which was denying the Taliban an al-Qaeda their existing bases.

  2. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    I think where you and I agree Dave is that both Afghanistan and Iraq were going to be difficult to pull off. Where we disagree is that I'm more willing to set proportionality aside and use disproportionate force.

    I look at this and think that if we're going to climb Everest we'd better bring plenty of gear and warm clothing and I cannot believe anyone proposed to climb Everest in their shirtsleeves. Not to paraphrase your stand, but I think what you're saying is we didn't need to climb that particular mountain in the first place.

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