The New York Times reports that Osama bin Laden's courier's cell phone has lots of interesting phone numbers on it. This article focuses on that of Harakat, a Pakistani militant group that fights in Kashmir and elsewhere, which sounds like a cutout organization for the Pakistan's CIA, the ISI. The NYT reporters have a couple of old Harakat insiders speaking off the record:
He and the other commander, who spent 10 years with Harakat, offered no proof of their belief that Bin Laden was under Pakistani military protection. But their views were informed by their years of work with the ISI and their knowledge of how the spy agency routinely handled militant leaders it considered assets — placing them under protective custody in cities, often close to military installations.
The treatment amounts to a kind of house arrest, to ensure both the security of the asset and his low profile to avoid embarrassment to his protectors.
A friend writes:
OK, so ISI was caching Bin Laden, probably using him when convenient, for example when [former Pakistan president] Musharraf wanted to knock off Benazir Bhutto. It already looked like that, now it seems almost certain.
Well, that might be hard to prove. Presumably, the ISI is reasonably professional in its spycraft. And then there's the next line of conceptual defense: it's not the ISI, it's "rogue elements" within the ISI. And then there's the argument that the ISI is a rogue element within the government of Pakistan. (Or is the government of Pakistan more a front for the ISI?)
Remember when the Warren Commission was shared that the Soviets had ordered JFK murdered? Like, what were they supposed to do if they found that to be the case and it got out? Push the button? This is the real deal: hiding Bin Laden for years IS a casus belli. Even the Israelis couldn't get away with _that_.
Pakistan is more of an enemy than Iraq ever was, more than Iran. Of course neither of them ever did much to us. More even than Libya (I'm counting Lockerbie).
Pakistan is more of an enemy than anyone we're whacking in Afghanistan. But we'd have to admit that we were PAYING the people sheltering Bin Laden for the past six years: the Fools at the Top would have to admit that were wrong. That won't happen. We may continue to pretend to get along with Pakistan for years more, so that they will allow our logistics for Afghanistan, a pointless and expensive war. And, of course, to avoid admitting what utter, poisonous damn fools our leaders are.
And I wonder if this goes deeper yet. A real fair chance that Musharraf was in on it. And might they have been involved with Bin Laden earlier? Involved in 9-11 itself? You have to wonder. With friends like these....