Saturday, December 29, 2007

Who Was Really Responsible for Bhutto's Murder?

For the life of me, I do not even to presume to know at this point. However, the true answer will have huge ramifications as to where events in Pakistan and the Middle East may head. The Chimperator and Musharraf are quite naturally pointing to Islamic extremists, which is of course a distinct possibility, but also plays right in with the other motives of both of them. Bush needs to maintain the terror bogeyman to continue his unlawful actions and Musharraf wants to keep the US money spigot turned to a full on position. My worry is that if we get this answer wrong or go forward based on bad or false intelligence (gee, I cannot imagine what would make me worry about that), the outcome could be disastrous for the entire world.
As David Ignatius said in a column yesterday, his former classmate was indeed NOT someone the Islamic fundamentalists liked for obvious reasons (
Bhutto was fearless, from her college years in America to her cruel assassination yesterday. She had an unshakable belief that Pakistan should embrace the modern world with the same confidence and courage that she had. She believed in democracy, freedom and openness -- not as slogans but as a way of life. She wasn't perfect; the corruption charges that enveloped her second term as prime minister were all too real. But she remained the most potent Pakistani voice for liberalism, tolerance and change.
Yet Islamic fundamentalists were not her only opponents. In fact others are speculating that others might have had more to gain from her death than the Islamic Fundamentalists, including Musharraf (

The shorthand being bandied about in the news that al-Qaeda is responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is so sloppy, so lacking in nuance or understanding of the dynamics of Pakistan, and so self-centered in its reference to America's enemy as to be almost laughable. Several U.S. defense and intelligence experts are quoted today dismissing even the possibility that President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani government forces, or other domestic elements could be involved, a conclusion that flies in the face of the country's history and ignores the obvious beneficiaries.

To say that "al-Qaeda" is responsible for Bhutto's assassination -- suggesting Osama bin Laden and an external force -- is to ignore all those political and religious factions inside the country that had the motives and resources to kill the former prime minister. Some of those factions in the government, the military or the intelligence services were likely privy to Bhutto's movements, and they could have actively schemed, if not played a direct role, in getting the suicide attacker to the right place at the right time.

Given Pakistan's history, it is unlikely that the true perpetrators will ever be brought to justice. For the United States though, the al-Qaeda bogey-man has the negative effect of affirming support for Musharraf and his martial law, while ignoring the various extremists who represent the true existential threat to the country. We should not let our al-Qaeda fixation blind us, just as the Soviet threat did in Iran in the 1970s, to the realities that Pakistan could implode of its own accord.
And as the Washington Post is reporting (, the US seems all too ready to run down the path that the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda bear responsibility before anyone knows for certain who was really responsible for Bhutto's murder. Equally scary is the fact that the intelligence officer quoted in the story is still maintaining the false myth that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. If the Chimperator and company cannot even get known facts correct, I have no confidence that they will not blindly run down the path that they want rather than make sure it is indeed the correct path. If that happens, we all need to be very afraid. The Iraq debacle has shown what happens when the Chimperator and Cheney act based on delusions/desires instead of real facts. Here are some Post story highlights:
"The Taliban . . . are indeed a growing element of the domestic political stew" in Pakistan, said John Blackton, who served as a U.S. official in Afghanistan in the 1970s and again 20 years later. He noted that Pakistani military intelligence created the Taliban in Afghanistan. How the United States responds will hinge largely on the actions of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, in whom U.S. officials have mixed confidence. If there is indeed a new challenge by Islamic militants emerging in Pakistan, then the United States will have to do whatever it can to support Musharraf, the U.S. Army officer in Afghanistan said.

"Pakistan must take drastic action against the Taliban in its midst or we will face the prospect of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of al-Qaeda -- a threat far more dangerous and real than Hussein's arsenal ever was," he said, referring to the deposed Saddam Hussein.

This rush to blame al-Qaeda is particularly suspect when Bhutto's own organization is disputing the involvement of al-Qaeda and accusing the Musharraf regime of a cover up (
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- An Islamic militant group said Saturday it had no link to Benazir Bhutto's killing and the opposition leader's aides accused the government of a cover-up, disputing the official account of her death. The government stood firmly by its account of Thursday's assassination and insisted it needed no foreign help in any investigation. "This is not an ordinary criminal matter in which we require assistance of the international community. I think we are capable of handling it," said Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema.

Bhutto's aides said they doubted militant commander Baitullah Mehsud was behind the attack on the opposition leader and said the government's claim that she died when she hit her head on the sunroof of her vehicle was "dangerous nonsense."

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