She had the guts to bring the rhino in the john front and center as she quite properly accused the government of Pakistan for having had the knowledge necessary to get Osama bin Laden and his number two guy, Zawahiri, at any time over the past nine years. As an exercise in "fence-mending," her approach is noteworthy in its unconventionality. But, public honesty in this matter is long overdue--and still incomplete.
The government of Pakistan or at the very, very least, its Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has known where the top men of al-Qaeda have been all along the way. The many, many stories of bin Laden's having traipsed around the country, including stays in military hospitals, have been too numerous, too consistent, and from too many diverse sources over the years to be the creation of fabricators and other pitfalls in the wacky world of intelligence.
Further, when the intimate relationship between ISI and the Taliban of Afghanistan is factored into consideration, it becomes even more unlikely that the al-Qaeda pandjandrums' whereabouts is unknown to the Boys of Islamabad. They may have experienced the embarrassment of having their creation, Taliban, turn against its creators, but that doesn't imply the ISI has lost its ability to collect what is known as "actionable intelligence."
They have. They know it. We know it. They know that we know. So, there is no excuse to pussy-foot around the issue. And, to her credit, Ms Clinton hasn't kept on the artful dodging that typified the Bush/Cheney years. Presumably, some of the credit must go to President Obama for allowing the sharp and amazingly public change in policy.
Pakistan, in a way which resembles the old French policy of placating terrorist groups but which has taken it to much, much greater extremes, has sought to buy its peace from terror attacks by both permitting "foreign" groups to operate from its soil and protecting them from other "foreign" antagonists. The government and military of Pakistan sat back, hands folded on their collective laps, until it had become explosively evident that Taliban had slipped its ISI leash and unilaterally cancelled the old deal.
The US would have acted quickly and (hopefully) effectively had the government of Pakistan, the Pakistani military, or ISI given notice of bin Laden's or Zawihiri's address. Not only did the phone call never come, the Pakistani organs publicly (and privately) maintained they were completely mystified and baffled as to where any of the terrorist heavyweights might be. They often added that the wanted men must still be in Afghanistan.
Considering the largess spread by the US Congress and administrations both past and present, a largess which will be paid by our descendants on to the fifth generation, the Clinton Bluntness Gambit is well justified. Now, both the administration and the congress must back her play. The challenge, the glove cast before Islamabad, must be renewed--and expanded. It is all well and good to praise the Pakistanis for finally having taken some sort of more or less effective action against the Islamist jihadists, but that is not enough.
It is not enough to justify all the money we have and will spend on the Lads of Islamabad. It is not enough that they have finally decided that they have to do something or lose their heads to the swords of what they like to call "miscreants."
To not only justify the money we have lavished upon their regime and its assorted military goodies, they must now show they really have joined the side of civilization in opposition to the barbaric forces of the Islamist jihadists. To do this they must hand us the head of Osama bin Laden, with or without the rest of his body. Ditto, al-Zawihiri.
It may have been a thumbs-up for Secretary Clinton. But, it is the back of the Geek's hand to the UN Human Rights Council. Well, to err on the side of specificity, its Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Philip Alston.
Mr Alston is all het up over the use of Predators and Reapers in the FATA of Pakistan. He is reportedly even more exercised over the unwillingness of the US, specifically CIA, to supply the family jewels on how targets are determined and engaged. The Special Rapporteur used language in his press conference the other day which echoed very well the approach taken by Justice Goldstone regarding the IDF.
He hinted darkly that the US "may" be committing war crimes in its use of UAVs. He can't be sure of this, however, unless the US provides all the relevant and requested information.
There is no doubt that Mr Alston would like to know the details of UAV missions and the supporting targeting systems. So would the targets. And their supporters around the world, many of which are represented on the Human Rights Council.
When not engaged in absurdities such as the widely decried hang wringing over the probable abuse of the human rights of transgendered persons as was the case with the UNHRC in-house "expert" on counterterrorism, the august body undertakes travesties such as its perversion of the already malformed Goldstone Panel Report. Now, the Council wants to drag the US into the same mire as it has Israel.
Recently the Jerusalem Post quoted a critic as terming the Goldstone effort as "a Magna Carta for terrorists." Mr Alston seems to be doing his best to augment the Goldstone effort.
While there is no debating the unfortunate fact that non-combatants have died from the Predator attacks, there is also no debating that this was not the desired effect of the attacks. US decision makers and those who execute the decisions are quite well aware of the ground truth that the killing of uninvolved civilians is counterproductive to say the least.
The gold (not Goldstone) standard for adjudicating an action during war as a crime is that of intent. The law of land warfare in the US and everywhere for that matter is intent pure and simple. It has been acknowledged for decades, centuries, perhaps longer, that in war civilians will be killed. It is unavoidable. Inescapable. So, showing a commonsense usually lacking in the area of jurisprudence, the standard of intent was evolved long times past.
Mr Alston needs to get a grip. The collateral loss of civilian life is an unfortunate reality of war whether carried out by UAVs or undertaken in a very up close and personal fashion. And, intent cannot be proven or disproven from an examination of the protocols and procedures for targeting and servicing the targets chosen.
Not unless someone, somewhere, at sometime, deep inside the Beltway wrote an order saying in effect," It is our intent that civilians be intentionally targeted." Sooner whales will fly than that sort of order would surface--or even exist. Not even Dick (Kill-'em-All-And-Let-Hell-Sort-It-Out) Cheney was that stupid.