The Obama Administration to date has had about as much luck catching Osama bin Laden as did George W. Bush’s terrorist hunters over seven years. Their solution: trot out Hillary Clinton to blame, not Washington, but Pakistan.
The secretary of State made the allegation—while offering no evidence—on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” during another flattering Clinton profile by the network.
Her pushing Pakistan to find enemy No. 1 reveals Obama Administration thinking: A bin Laden capture in an election year might stave off predicted Democrat defeats at the polls in November.
While on a trip to Pakistan, Clinton told CBS, “I’m not saying that they’re at the highest levels—but I believe that somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is, and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture, or kill those who attacked us on 9/11.”
It’s a blockbuster charge. For eight years, what is supposed to be Washington’s shoulder-to-shoulder ally in the war on terror is actually helping to hide the No. 1 target and America’s most wanted.
Trouble is, she did not single out which part of Pakistan’s government knows where bin Laden is holed up. People in the intelligence community contacted by HUMAN EVENTS do not seem to know much about it.
A U.S. counter-terrorism official did not care to even comment on Clinton’s conspiracy theory and then put a positive spin on events in the tribal region where bin Laden is thought to duck and move.
“Bin Laden spends much of his time worrying about his personal security,” the official said. “The fact that several of his top lieutenants have been taken off the battlefield—especially over the past two years—has to weigh on him very seriously.”
A spokesman for Sen. Christopher Bond, the senior Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said he did not wish to comment on such “speculation.”
Bond’s Republican counterpoint in the House, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, seemed taken aback when told of Clinton’s remarks.
“You just don’t know,” Hoekstra told HUMAN EVENTS. “When she says, ‘they know,’ is it the region, the city, the exact house. Just what does ‘known’ mean?”
“The question is, do you know who those people are and if you do, what do you have to do to get them to cooperate,” said the Michigan congressman. “And if you don’t know who they are, and you are just saying that, what good are we accomplishing.”
One guess, Hoekstra said, is that Clinton is talking about agents inside Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. The agency has a history of aiding the Taliban, especially in the 1990s when Mullah Omar rose to power from his base in the Southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar.
“I would guess she couldn’t give names of people who do know where he is and if you can’t give the names of who they are, what good is it,” Hoekstra said. “Saying we want more cooperation from Pakistan—OK, tell me something I don’t know.”
Why can’t we catch bin Laden?
“I just think he uses very good trade craft,” said Hoekstra. “I think he is very, very isolated. There’s only a very few people who know where he is. He uses couriers, not electronic equipment. If you want to stay hidden, you can stay hidden. Use good trade craft. Get a few trusted people around you. It is amazing what you can do.”
HUMAN EVENTS talked with a seasoned military intelligence officer who expressed deep puzzlement that, with a high price on his head and the CIA fixed on finding him, that bin Laden remains at large. This officer believes the U.S. may eventually get lucky with a Predator missile strike and just happen to target a house where bin Laden is staying. “Honestly, it’s a mystery,” the officer said. “Not even sure how much it matters anymore.”
Clearly, this politically charged White House is thinking about the day it does something the warrior-President Bush could not do.
Atty. Gen. Eric Holder opined earlier this year that he thought bin Laden would be killed rather than captured.
Later, in Senate testimony, he clarified his remarks.
“Our hope would be to capture him and to interrogate him, to get useful intelligence from him about the structure of al Qaeda, about al Qaeda’s plans,” he said. “What I said in that hearing was an assessment of, I think, the likelihood that we are going to be able to capture him alive. What I said was that, with regard to that possibility, both in our attempts to capture him and from what we know about instructions that he has given to the people who surround him, his security forces, I think it’s highly unlikely that he will be taken alive. But our goal is to either capture Osama bin Laden, or to kill him.”
Clinton spokesman at the State Department, P.J. Crowley, put the best face on the secretary’s criticism so as not to offend a shaky ally who happens to own about 80 nuclear warheads.
“As she said, we’ve seen a sea change of attitudes within Pakistan, over the last couple of years, but that we want and expect more from Pakistan going forward,” he told reporters.