As officials in Pakistan protest the raid that killed Usama bin Laden, some Members of Congress are asking whether those same officials knew that Bin Laden was hiding in their country and said nothing to the United States, this while taking billions in US foreign aid.
According to The Hill, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suspects that Pakistani officials did know that the world’s most wanted fugitive was in their country, and living in a compound not far from the Pakistani military academy. The notion that they did not know strains credulity, he said in effect:
It seems logical to me that if bin Laden was there for six years … then a lot of people in Pakistan knew he was there.
Representative Ted Poe (R-TX-2) is even less satisfied. He has proposed a bill (HR 1699) to prohibit any further foreign aid to Pakistan unless and until the Secretary of State can certify that:
- Pakistan’s government knew nothing of bin Laden’s presence in its country, or
- If it did know, it told US officials “in an expedited manner.”
This terse and blunt bill already has the listed co-sponsorship of Representatives Allen West (R-FL-22), Vern Buchanan (R-FL-13), and John Culberson (R-TX-7). According to this blog from The Houston Chronicle, Poe’s bill has attracted international attention and bipartisan interest. A search of “Thomas,” the public server of the Library of Congress, yielded no confirmation of this last, but Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) is already on record as calling for the same thing.
Nor has President Barack H. Obama been silent. Ha’aretz carried this preview of remarks that Obama would make on CBS News’ Sixty Minutes Sunday program, to the effect that someone (Obama didn’t know who) was supporting Bin Laden in Pakistan.
We think that there had to be some sort of support network for Bin Laden inside of Pakistan. But we don’t know who or what that support network was.
The Hill report, a summary of appearances on the Sunday talk shows, said that former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice suggested that Pakistani officials might not have known, but had the duty to find out. And Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to the US, made an interesting excuse: that the USA doesn’t pay Pakistan enough to enable it to find out facts of this kind.
The U.S. chose to spend most of its money in Iraq and then Afghanistan, not Pakistan, so things fell through the cracks.
True, according to the Heritage Foundation, Iraq and Afghanistan receive, respectively, the highest and third-highest level of foreign aid from the United States. (The number-two recipient is Israel.) Pakistan is eighth. But as the Heritage Foundation also reports, Pakistan has not been especially grateful to the United States, and has voted against United States positions at the United Nations more than 85 percent of the time (and more than 90 percent on important matters). Pakistan also failed to secure its border with Afghanistan, and that might explain how bin Laden gained entry into Pakistan to begin with. Worse yet, according to The Daily Mail (London, UK), Pakistan revealed what it said was the name of the CIA station chief in Pakistan. (The CIA quickly said that the name was wrong, though whether that was truth or defensive misdirection is impossible to find.)
The question about what Pakistan knew, and when, arises in the larger context of the 2012 Presidential election campaign. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX-14), current head of the House Banking Committee, is officially exploring another campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination. He has vowed openly that, as President, he would cancel all foreign aid to all countries.