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  • Pakistan's Abbotabad Report

    Here is a link to the leaked Pakistani Abbottabad Commission Report:

    Aljazeera Bin Laden Dossier

    Some analysis from the Guardian that I largely agree with:


    Pakistan's Abbottabad report is serious, savage self-analysis

    Jason Burke
    The Guardian, Monday 8 July 2013 14.30 EDT

    There are five major elements that western intelligence analysts will immediately notice as they work their way through the 300-plus pages of the Abbottabad report – and several still-unanswered questions.

    The first comprises some new details about the early days of Osama bin Laden's life as a fugitive following the December 2001 fall of the Taliban regime that had sheltered him in Afghanistan since 1996. The al-Qaida leader is reported to have entered Pakistan in mid-2002, spending time, possibly, in the frontier city of Peshawar and in the restive tribal agencies on the border. Then he moved deeper into Pakistan, to the Swat Valley. He moved a month later to the town of Haripur, and finally in 2005, with wives, children and grandchildren in tow, to Abbottabad.

    But did any Pakistani officials – military or civilian – know he was there? This is the second crucial element, and one of the key questions the report's authors, led by a retired supreme court judge, sought to answer. Their conclusion is that complacency, inefficiency and negligence at all levels allowed Bin Laden's presence to pass undetected. This is predictable, critics will say, from a commission appointed by the Pakistani government. But it is very close to the consensus of western intelligence officials since the raid.

    The report's authors – and western spooks – do not rule out some kind of plausibly deniable assistance from rogue elements. This theory – cockup, not conspiracy – is a marginally more heartening conclusion than the idea that the Pakistani military or someone else consciously harboured the al-Qaida leader.

    However, element three will cause alarm. Officials in London, Washington and elsewhere will be concerned to read the views of Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan's main military spy agency, the ISI, until last year, that the police and civilian intelligence services are neither trustworthy nor competent partners in fighting terrorism.

    There is further discouragement in Pasha's admission that the ISI is aware of the location of "foreign miscreants" in major cities but that the targets are safe in what have become no-go areas for law enforcement authorities. This makes the sheer weakness of much of the government machinery in Pakistan very evident.

    Then there are Pakistan's relations with the CIA and the west – element four. There are few surprises here, except perhaps the depth of Pakistani animosity. "American arrogance knows no limit," Pasha told the authors. Their own views appear much the same, if expressed in marginally more measured tones. Overall the report gives every indication that, when it comes to the "rollercoaster of US-Pakistan relations", the current heart-stopping descent will not bottom out for some time.

    Finally, element five, there is the existence of the report at all. It appears, against most expectations, to be a serious, sober piece of work. It is no whitewash but a savage piece of self-analysis. Even the ISI is explicitly criticised for overstepping its remit, for its mindset and for failing to properly monitor four phone numbers of suspected militants when given numbers by the CIA in 2010. These, it turned out, belonged to the crucial courier who later led the CIA to Bin Laden.

    No Pakistani government agency or institution comes out unscathed. The civilian and military leadership showed "breathtaking incompetence and irresponsibility", the report says. In one section, repeated military interventions are criticised for creating a vicious circle that undermines the capacity of civilian institutions.

    Given the sensitivity of the issue and the political pressures on the authors, this is remarkable. It suggests that those optimists who, in the aftermath of a successful election and transition of power, believe that in some areas at least there is progress in Pakistan might just be right.

    Pakistan's Abbottabad report is serious, savage self-analysis | World news | The Guardian
    Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
    https://twitter.com/AgnosticMuslim

  • #2
    I cherry picked this off NYTimes,
    “Connivance, collaboration and cooperation at some levels cannot be entirely discounted,”
    From my perspective, that the authors of this report left this open as a possibility, while drawing the conclusions that it was primarily incompetence and negligence that allowed Bin Laden to hide in Pakistan as long as he did make this seem like a serious document. I am looking forward to reading it in its entirety.

    Comment


    • #3
      Zain,

      Thank you. Both the commission report and analysis are valuable. I'm sure there'll be more analysis to follow. I look forward to reading both it and the comments here.
      "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
      "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

      Comment


      • #4
        Reading between the lines.... It is pretty clear he was a guest. Maybe not of the government, but of those who actually have power.

        1. This failure included negligence and incompetence and at some undetermined level a grave complicity may or may not have involved,

        2. How the entire neighborhood, local officials, police and security and intelligence officials all missed the size, the strange shape, the barbed wire, the lack of cars and visitors etc over a period of nearly six years beggars belief,

        3. That Pakistan had stopped looking for bin Laden by 2005.... He [Bin Laden] moved in August 2005 to Abbottabad,

        4. He shopped in local markets and even got pulled over for speeding.

        Comment


        • #5
          The pdf document can also be accessed here

          Very interesting ISI admission on page 174[398] regarding the American fear of Pakistani intelligence leakage:

          "This might be the case if it concerned FATA, but this explanation could not apply to Abbottabad."

          In a back-handed manner, the statement above seems to corroborate the US complaint that the ISI leaked information about impending actions (drone strikes) in the border areas.
          sigpic

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Minskaya View Post
            The pdf document can also be accessed here

            Very interesting ISI admission on page 174[398] regarding the American fear of Pakistani intelligence leakage:

            "This might be the case if it concerned FATA, but this explanation could not apply to Abbottabad."

            In a back-handed manner, the statement above seems to corroborate the US complaint that the ISI leaked information about impending actions (drone strikes) in the border areas.
            You can't be trusted with the Taliban but you can be trusted with OBL. Where do these guys take courses in logic.

            Comment


            • #7
              It's a very interesting read. The account of the raid from the perspective of the wives of the slain men. After reading 'No Easy Day', these accounts of the raid are all consistent and seem to corroborate one another.

              Another interesting angle here is the Iranian one. The Iranians seemed to be very well aware of the movements of the Laden family; closely tracking their movements within Iran, arresting and then releasing them back into Pakistan (while denying their request to continue on to Syria). If even the border guards in Iran were aware of the movements of the Laden family, why weren't the Pakistanis? At the end of the day, I think the ones calling the shots in Pakistan may not have actively sheltered Laden, but it's obvious they did not care enough to bother looking for him.
              Cow is the only animal that not only inhales oxygen, but also exhales it.
              -Rekha Arya, Former Minister of Animal Husbandry

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm not overly convinced that he's managed to suspend his own beliefs in the delivery of this analysis

                there is an absolute that has to be subscribed to when you do analysis - ie don't inject personal perception into the report

                in this case he talks about american arrogance which demonstrates an inability to analyse in isolation

                ie, the behaviour of other countries has no bearing on the behaviour of your own people in the event and what they should/could/would have done if they were on the ball - ie you analyse on the behaviour and performance of your own people - attributing traits to the other side is one of the things that you don't do as your own side should be worded up and factoring those elements anyway.

                suspending your own prejudice is critical to any proper analysis and he's not done himself any favours by injecting his beliefs into this.
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                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by HKDan View Post
                  I cherry picked this off NYTimes, From my perspective, that the authors of this report left this open as a possibility, while drawing the conclusions that it was primarily incompetence and negligence that allowed Bin Laden to hide in Pakistan as long as he did make this seem like a serious document. I am looking forward to reading it in its entirety.
                  I am always desirous of applying Hanlon's razor to these types of situations.

                  However, the NYTimes makes a very good point: “Connivance, collaboration and cooperation at some levels cannot be entirely discounted,”

                  It reminds me of the end of the movie Conspiracy.

                  While the Holocaust is being planned inside a large mansion, a group of bored SS drivers are engaging in an impromptu snowball fight outside.
                  Adolf Eichmann suddenly walks outside and angrily screams for the men to stop, singling out the closest man and demanding to know what he is doing, especially as the man is in uniform.
                  The hapless man stammers an excuse that "it just happened". Eichmann viciously slaps the man and declares "Not in uniform! Nothing ever 'just happens'!"
                  “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                  ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Minskaya View Post
                    The pdf document can also be accessed here

                    Very interesting ISI admission on page 174[398] regarding the American fear of Pakistani intelligence leakage:

                    "This might be the case if it concerned FATA, but this explanation could not apply to Abbottabad."

                    In a back-handed manner, the statement above seems to corroborate the US complaint that the ISI leaked information about impending actions (drone strikes) in the border areas.
                    Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                    You can't be trusted with the Taliban but you can be trusted with OBL. Where do these guys take courses in logic.
                    The actual quote from the report (which in my opinion impacts the context) differs from Minskaya's quote and is as follows:

                    "The team was asked about the US explanation that one reason for not sharing information about the presence of OBL or about the special operation was because of its fear that his information could be leaked. That was why the operation was conducted unilaterally. The ISI denied this by saying this might have been said with respect to FATA. But this explanation could not apply to Abbottabad. It had no justification. In fact the record showed that whenever any information was made available regarding the possible location of OBL a dedicated attempt was made to capture him. But each time the information communicated by the CIA did not turn out to be authentic. The ISI told the Commission that after the Tora Bora operation, the CIA had closed its special unit which was set up to hunt OBL. Moreover, the ISI said, OBL had not been active since 2005. All operational activities of Al Qaeda were controlled by Aiman-al-Zawahiri. Accordingly, the ISI team told the Commission, "everyone, including the US" thought OBL was no longer alive."


                    Operations in FATA have involved Tribal paramilitary forces, and there have been a handful of incidents in which attacks on ISAF soldiers by members of the Tribal paramilitary forces have occurred. As such US concerns about 'information leakage', at the lower levels in FATA, might be justified, but, as ISI argues, such issues have not arisen outside of FATA with respect to neutralizing AQ members (typically in operations involving the ISI and Pakistani special forces).

                    Nothing to do with 'taking courses in logic' OoE, just requires reading the content a little more carefully, without resorting to sarcastic asides.
                    Last edited by Agnostic Muslim; 09 Jul 13,, 13:56.
                    Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
                    https://twitter.com/AgnosticMuslim

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gf0012-aust View Post
                      I'm not overly convinced that he's managed to suspend his own beliefs in the delivery of this analysis

                      there is an absolute that has to be subscribed to when you do analysis - ie don't inject personal perception into the report

                      in this case he talks about american arrogance which demonstrates an inability to analyse in isolation

                      ie, the behaviour of other countries has no bearing on the behaviour of your own people in the event and what they should/could/would have done if they were on the ball - ie you analyse on the behaviour and performance of your own people - attributing traits to the other side is one of the things that you don't do as your own side should be worded up and factoring those elements anyway.

                      suspending your own prejudice is critical to any proper analysis and he's not done himself any favours by injecting his beliefs into this.
                      The references to 'American arrogance' are made in terms of describing US policies/demands/actions, and are not used to 'justify the behavior of your own people in the event and what they should/could/would have done ..'.

                      The perceptions about the US should in fact be a welcome addition in the report, for American analysts at least, because they might identify aspects of US policy that have limited cooperation with Pakistan and damaged the relationship, if of course the long term goal of the US government is to increase cooperation with Pakistan and improve the relationship.
                      Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
                      https://twitter.com/AgnosticMuslim

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Excerpts from an Al Jazeera interview with Richard Armitage after the Abbottabad Report was leaked:

                        Q&A: US-Pakistan relations
                        Al Jazeera speaks with Richard Armitage, former US deputy secretary of state.
                        Asad Hashim Last Modified: 08 Jul 2013 16:18

                        The Abbottabad Commission's report declares that in unilaterally launching a raid in Pakistani territory without informing Pakistani authorities at any stage, "the United States acted like a criminal thug" and perpetrated "an act of war". While most of the report's criticism is directed at the Pakistani government and military, it also argues that no legal justification existed for the US action - indeed, it spends eight pages outlining various legal arguments from Pakistanis and international legal experts.

                        The Commission states that the relationship between the two countries "has been based largely on US economic and military assistance to Pakistan on the one hand, and the contingent utility of Pakistan for the US on the other […] at its best, it has been a mutually beneficial relationship. More often, it has pretended to be a strategic relationship without being one, except for brief durations of overlapping interests in dealing with common challenges".

                        It recommends a review of the relationship by the Pakistani government, based on a review of its strategic objectives and the ability to make the relationship "transparent and honest".


                        Al Jazeera spoke to Richard Armitage, US deputy secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, under President George W Bush, about the Pakistan-US relationship.

                        Al Jazeera: The report describes Pakistan as an 'unenthusiastic ally' of the US-led War on Terror back in 2001. What was your impression?

                        Richard Armitage: I thought that Pakistan had a mixed view about participation in 2001 with the United States. [Then Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf was enthusiastic, I think, primarily because he saw a way to get his country out of pariah status and the 10-year divorce it had with the United States. There were others, particularly the ISI [Inter-Service Intelligence], which for 10 years had fostered a different policy and had close associations with the Taliban, particularly after 1996, and they were much more reluctant.

                        I would class, generally, Pakistanis as suspicious of co-operation with the United States.

                        AJ: Did the US believe that Pakistan would help take down Osama bin Laden or bring him in?

                        RA: We certainly thought in the time that I was acting - 2001 to 2005 - that if Pakistan knew where Bin Laden was, they would assist us… And we put a great deal of credibility on President Musharraf and indeed had a very good relationship with him. I looked, however, carefully, from 2001 to 2005, at intelligence regarding the tribal areas and Afghanistan and Pakistan, and I could find no real assistance [for] the Taliban. I found some liaison, which one would understand - these were people with whom ISI had worked for 10 years or more. But I couldn't find actual assistance. It was only in the middle part of 2005 that things really dramatically changed, for a lot of reasons, I think.

                        ...

                        AJ: The report states that by 2005 all co-operation between the CIA and the ISI on finding OBL had ceased. Why?

                        RA: I left in February 2005, and I’m not sure, however, if that statement is completely true. I noted that ISI directors came here every year at least once and visited with their CIA counterpart, etcetera, so it would seem to me that at least something still existed.

                        AJ: This is from a copy of the report: 'The Commission was told that after 2005 all co-operation between the CIA and ISI regarding OBL ceased. The US did not respond to questions by the Commission on the subject. However, since, the US leaders publically communicated their concerns over the suspected presence of OBL in Pakistan'. Are you saying that there was still back-channel communication?

                        RA: No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that publically, the ISI director was still travelling here to the United States at least once a year. And he would meet with his counterpart, who is the director of the CIA. He also met on occasion with the Secretary of Defence etc. So to make a blanket statement that all co-operation on Osama bin Laden ceased after 2005 seems to me a statement without foundation. But I was not involved.

                        AJ: Do you think the Commission might be saying this because they view the incident as a failure of national security?

                        RA: I have no idea why the commission says what they say or who they interviewed. I do know that the nation [of Pakistan] was quite embarrassed, on several fronts. One, that the United States could do this on their own and they wouldn’t know it, and two, that after successive leaders of Pakistan have told us they didn’t know where Osama bin Laden was, there had to be a certain embarrassment - and I think that was embarrassment that the public generally felt that, no matter the poor state of a lot of the institutions of Pakistan, the army was the only national institution which enjoyed trust. And here the army was floundering around during the time of our raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. So there are many reasons for embarrassment…

                        The only national [Pakistani] institution which held [national] respect was the army, and this [raid] really chipped away at the legitimacy and the professionalism of the army. So I think there is every reason to feel embarrassed.

                        Having said that, as an American, I find that the raid was a success, and a message was sent to terrorists - that we will reach out and touch you.

                        AJ: The US obviously sees the raid as a huge success – they took out Osama bin Laden. The Pakistani government sees it as a “national tragedy”, “a night of shame”, took it from a completely different perspective - a total breakdown in their national security. Are those feelings accurate? Should they feel this way?

                        RA: I last was in Pakistan in 2009, and I met with the president, met with [Chief of Army Staff] General Ashfaq Kayani, met with everyone you’d expect I’d meet with. I’ve got to tell you that the feelings regarding the United States relationship have always been mixed, for good reason.

                        I think [Pakistan] will get what they can out of the US relationship while they can, because history, since 1947, has shown that - in their eyes - we are not reliable.

                        From a Pakistani point of view, the United States and Pakistan didn’t just have one divorce for 10 years over the nuclear issue. Five separate times we have ceased providing equipment to Pakistan. So from their point of view, I think they’ll get what they can out of the US relationship while they can, because history, since 1947, has shown that - in their eyes - we are not reliable.

                        From our point of view, we expected that Pakistan would see things from the same pair of glasses we see things.

                        So, to some extent, both of us had unreasonable and unrealizable expectations.


                        AJ: The report talks of 'a shortage of mutual appreciation, regard and trust in this contingent, transactional and often resentful relationship' between the US and Pakistan. What's your reaction to that?

                        RA: I think I would have written that at any time, not just as a result of the Commission after the Bin Laden raid. But it gets back from their point of view to the unreliability of the US as a partner. I keep stressing "from their point of view". From our point of view, we've got our own interests and our own reasons.

                        AJ: In the report, the ISI chief says Pakistan had become too weak and dependent to defend itself against US policies. What's your take on that?

                        RA: I don't think that they had become weak. They did have few friends in the international community for 10 years, although we still had diplomatic relations with Pakistan, we had no assistance programmes. They had a good and competent air force, a good and competent navy, they've got a very strong land force [which] is fairly well equipped.

                        They are not in the business of confronting the United States. Their enemies were much more traditional ones. So I find the statement rather funny.

                        AJ: Had the Pakistani government had any information regarding the existence of an alleged support network for Osama bin Laden, the report indicates that Pakistan would have taken immediate action. Do you think that's the case?

                        RA: They always told us that they did take action, but I've been out of it since 2005. And I think there has been… a question about the more recent ISI activities, and whether that would be the case. But I felt, during our time, that President Musharraf would have done something - had he known. And I think that General Ehsan ul-Haq, the ISI director during my time, would have done it as well.

                        AJ: After your time, do you think that Pakistan would have lived up to that statement?

                        RA: Well, after my time, there are several other things that happened. I personally believe that around mid-2005, both the Taliban and ISI had a change of view. The Taliban was coming to the conclusion that they weren't as frightened of the United States… At the same time, [the] ISI was wondering: "Well, maybe we ought to go back to a more traditional policy of supporting some of the Taliban, because they may prevail." So that's the background.

                        AJ: There seemed to have been co-operation - there were some HVTs who were taken down in operations. Do you think the allegations or the concerns that Pakistan was leaking information to jihadi organisations - do you think that it was a legitimate concern that the US had, about Pakistan leaking information prior to raids?

                        RA: I think it is [a legitimate concern] in every country, in every situation or in every raid or drone strike. Is it the case? I can't rule out that some people who might have been informed, did inform. Whether it a blanket policy? I have no idea.

                        AJ: Do you have any direct knowledge that they were?

                        RA: No.


                        AJ: The report indicates that the reason the US did not inform Pakistan about the raid prior, was that it was a power play - that the US administration did not want anyone to steal its thunder. Do you think there's any truth to that?

                        RA: I think the United States went unilaterally as they did because they wanted to be sure that they could get the target they came after. I think that's the only reason.

                        it was after Tora Bora that we found out how close we had been. How damnably close...

                        AJ: When you were in office, do you feel that you were ever very close to getting Osama bin Laden?

                        RA: After Tora Bora, no. And Tora Bora - it was after Tora Bora that we found out how close we had been. How damnably close. But after that, no, we were not.

                        AJ: The report clearly indicates that the raid to kill Bin Laden was 'an act of war' by the United States.

                        RA: I don't care what the report indicates. I didn't write it. It's not a US report. They are welcome to write anything that they say. It's not an act of war. We went out and took out a terrorist. If they want to call it an act of war, that's fine.

                        AJ: Talk to me about the political impact that drone strikes have had on the Pakistan-US relationship?

                        ...

                        Follow Asad Hashim on Twitter: @AsadHashim

                        Q&A: US-Pakistan relations - Features - Al Jazeera English
                        Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
                        https://twitter.com/AgnosticMuslim

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                        • #13
                          ]AJ: The report clearly indicates that the raid to kill Bin Laden was 'an act of war' by the United States.

                          RA: I don't care what the report indicates. I didn't write it. It's not a US report. They are welcome to write anything that they say. It's not an act of war. We went out and took out a terrorist. If they want to call it an act of war, that's fine.

                          Q&A: US-Pakistan relations - Features - Al Jazeera English
                          Yep, pretty much. Its just one report, a Pakistani one, undoubtedly useful, but far from a closed case on this:

                          Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                          However, the NYTimes makes a very good point: “Connivance, collaboration and cooperation at some levels cannot be entirely discounted,”
                          And this issue should not be discounted. The tone of self-criticism aside, the overall conclusion of the report doesnt offer much new from the Pakistani excuse of the past 2 years about the incompetence of its institutions etc The report reads more like they're continuing to let those within their security establishment who collude with terrorists and shelter them off the hook with just a slap on the wrist.

                          So Bin Laden lives in Pakistan for 10 years, several in an unusually large compound near a military academy and nobody in the Pakistani security establisment knew in all that time? BS. And i suppose former ISI head Mahmud Ahmed had nothing to do with the wiring of 100,000 US$ to 9/11 highjacker Mohammad Atta either, it wasnt connivance but just his incompetence?

                          Guess the Kunduz airlift wasnt connivance either, that too, was incompetence and the Pakistanis had no idea that ISI personnel along with AQ and Taliban leaders / operatives were being evacuated out of Afghanistan to Pakistan?

                          These people are remarkable for their inability to aknowledge plain facts even after they have been caught and called out on them.

                          Incompetent? That they surely, truly are, but pull the other one when it comes to Bin Laden and the Taliban.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 1980s View Post
                            The report reads more like they're continuing to let those within their security establishment who collude with terrorists and shelter them off the hook with just a slap on the wrist.
                            Perhaps you can enlighten us as to who 'within the security establishment colluded with terrorists and sheltered OBL' since you some others wail about this particular allegation non-stop, despite the Pakistani commission and the US government's own investigation into the materials obtained from the OBL compound and related intelligence finding absolutely no evidence supporting the allegation that there were 'individuals within the Pakistani security establishment who colluded with terrorists and sheltered OBL'.
                            Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission - Jinnah
                            https://twitter.com/AgnosticMuslim

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Agnostic Muslim View Post
                              In fact the record showed that whenever any information was made available regarding the possible location of OBL a dedicated attempt was made to capture him. But each time the information communicated by the CIA did not turn out to be authentic.
                              Was the information not authentic, or did someone warn him to get gone fast? What we do know- attempts to use Pakistani forces to capture Bin Laden on multiple attempts= 0 success rate. Nor is there any reason to believe that the information provided wasn't good- not given the important in finding him and the resources dedicated to it. It is highly suspicious that all joint ops fail and the single solo attempt by the US succeeds. Further suspicion is aroused when that American team felt they needed air cover and protection from the Pakistani military their supposed allies and co-belligerents.

                              If you boil it all down and sift through all the misdirection- the authors were unable to clear Pakistan's name of being a state sponsor of terrorism- period full stop.

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