Bhutto and State

Jeff pointed to this really fascinating Novak column this morning. I find it fascinating, first of all, because the portion of the column based on Novak’s typical leak…

That attitude led a Bhutto agent to inform a high-ranking State Department official that her camp no longer viewed the backstage U.S. effort to broker a power-sharing agreement between Musharraf and the former prime minister as a good-faith effort toward democracy. It was, according to the written complaint, an attempt to preserve the politically endangered Musharraf as George W. Bush’s man in Islamabad.


In early December, a former Pakistani government official supporting Bhutto visited a senior U.S. government official to renew Bhutto’s security requests. He got a brushoff, a mind-set reflected Dec. 6 at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

… seems like the counter-part to the leaks that serve as the basis for this AP story.

Senior U.S. diplomats had multiple conversations, including at least two private face-to-face meetings, with top members of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party to discuss threats on the Pakistani opposition leader’s life and review her security arrangements after a suicide bombing marred her initial return to Pakistan from exile in October, the officials told The Associated Press.


The officials said Bhutto and her aides were concerned, particularly after the October attack, but were adamant that in the absence of a specific and credible threat there would be few, if any, changes to her campaign schedule ahead of parliamentary elections.


In the meetings with U.S. officials, Bhutto aides did not ask the United States to help protect her but did inquire about the feasibility of hiring private U.S. or British bodyguards, an idea discouraged by the Americans who argued that a noticeable Western security detail would increase the threat and might become a target itself, the officials said.


Instead, the U.S. diplomats recommended as many as five reputable local Pakistani and regional firms that could be contracted to supplement Bhutto’s security and urged the party to limit the size, scope and type of her public appearances, upgrade armoring on vehicles in which she might travel and require her to wear protective clothing, the officials said.

However, there was no indication that Bhutto’s team — including her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who attended at least one of the meetings — had followed through on the most critical of the recommendations, including the hiring of private guards and reducing her visibility in large crowds like the one in Rawalpindi where she was killed.


The State Department, meanwhile, angrily denied suggestions that U.S. officials had ignored or minimized the threat to Bhutto even as they were encouraging reconciliation between her and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

On one side, you’ve got Bhutto’s people saying the State Department blew off requests for help with security. On the other side, you’ve got US officials (one source is specifically described as an intelligence official) claiming they were helping Bhutto’s people, but that Bhutto (and specifically, her husband) didn’t do the things necessary to ensure her security. (I recommend you read through the whole AP article, which goes on at some length to portray the steps the US allegedly took to secure Bhutto’s safety.)

Do you get the feeling we’re going to be hearing more about how US action or inaction led to Bhutto’s death? The State Department sure seems touchy about the issue.

Novak, for his part, lays a lot of blame with Richard Boucher.

Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, was asked to respond to fears by nonpartisan American observers of a rigged election. His reply: "I do think they can have a good election. They can have a credible election. They can have a transparent and a fair election. It’s not going to be a perfect election." Boucher’s words echoed through corridors of power in Islamabad. The Americans’ not demanding perfection signaled that they would settle for less. Without Benazir Bhutto around, it is apt to be a lot less.

Well it’s not clear that Boucher is either the "high-ranking State Department official" or the "senior U.S. government official" named in Novak’s piece, he may well be either or both of them. (Here’s a question. Novak’s source on this appears to be Bhutto’s folks. If so, why not name the officials in question?) In any case, Bhutto’s folks appear to be preparing to make the case that the State Department’s public claim to be supporting democracy were just a sham.

And the purpose of Novak’s column–particularly the inclusion of this detail–seems designed to send a message that Bhutto’s folks are prepared to provide evidence of State’s bad faith regarding the Pakistani election.

When I last saw Bhutto, over coffee in August at Manhattan’s Pierre Hotel, she was deeply concerned about U.S. ambivalence but asked me not to write about it. She had not heard from Musharraf for three weeks after their secret July meeting in Abu Dhabi. She feared the Pakistani military strongman was not being prodded from Washington.

168 replies
  1. Hugh says:

    TPM had a short piece on Boucher. He ran the South Asia desk at State but was not a South Asia specialist, another example of the Bush Administration not using the A team. This was probably the usual Rician incompetence we have all come to expect but it certainly fit in with Cheney’s desire to run US policy in that part of the world.

    The environment in which Benazir Bhutto was assassinated is made up of political violence, political corruption, and political campaigning in which chaotic and poorly controlled personal appearances play a central role. Another important point I think that gets lost is that none of this had to do with democracy. It was about power. Bhutto pulled out of her agreement with Musharraf not because it offended her democratic sensibilities but because it did not transfer sufficient power from him to her. As for sending Zardari to Washington, cut me a break. He’s the most corrupt man in Pakistan and believe me that is saying something. It says a lot about Bhutto’s mindset. Even when it came to her own safety she couldn’t ditch the corruption and cronyism. If she had gotten US bodyguards she would have used them as a political foil against Musharraf. OTOH what does it say that in a country of 165 million she couldn’t find or trust anyone including those in her own party competent enough to protect her?

  2. TheraP says:

    I have 2 points to make. One relates to the assassination itself. The other relates to the US reaction, specifically bush’s televised statement.

    1. Seems to me that the assassination counted upon Bhutto “exposing herself” at the time the gunman was ready to shoot. I have been thinking that the gunman or other confederates likely shouted and called for Bhutto to do just that. To give the crowd one last sight of her before the car sped away. To my mind this points to the Musharaff connection, planting people to call for her to show herself, and to assist the gunman in getting closer to her car when she did so. (this, to me, does not seem to be consistent with the type of single suicide bombing attacks from Al Quaida)

    2. Then we have bush’s response. I learned about the assassination right away that morning, from the bbc, and it was the first news I gave my husband when he woke up. But it was much, much later when bush finally spoke. His demeanor struck me as really strange. He spoke soooo slowly. And it was also strange, to me, that he threw the blame immediately onto the “forces of terror and extremism.” I wondered at the time if he might have been feeling guilty (if it’s possible for him to feel guilt) or shocked (given how much they were counting on Bhutto to cover for Musharaff). But it was strange. As if they had to get their “story straight” before bush came out and made his statement.

    I was also reminded at that point of how Aznar right away blamed the Basques in Spain after the Madrid bombing. No time to know that, but “he knew it.” Same with bush. They had to shove the blame onto Al Quaida or other extremists – and away from the fact that Musharaff could have double-crossed them.

    I’m not sure how these two points fit into the picture EW is painting, but I offer them for your consideration – as part of the stew.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      I agree.
      Bush was acting strangely that day, although I saw no blinking.
      My first reaction of Bush: “Maybe, I too could be assassinated” especially with his heavy out-of-state travel…
      Bush always thinks of George first…

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        His coming travels worry me, as well. I want to see Bush in jail for the rest of his life; therefore, I don’t want a hair on that man’s head harmed. Ditto Cheney.

        If Bush is harmed, then people won’t get to see REAL justice. They’d only see a revenge killing, which would only feed extremists who want to use violence.
        Real justice may require the Hague, if Congress can’t get its act together.
        But I want him alive, and in jail. Along with Cheney, Rove, and the rest of the cabal.

        Just MHO.

        • TheraP says:

          Ditto. We want him “alive.” And in jail for the rest of his life… and I hope it’s a long, long life… without parole.

          And the worst of it is that he/they will get far more justice than any of those poor imprisoned souls, who must have felt deprived of all human kindness and decency.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Correct. But it’s not about us. It’s about the example for those who come after us; either American ideals are worth the effort of investigations and the judicial process, or we’re lost.

            Without justice, the world is at the whim of extremists everywhere, and everyone suffers. Even the wealthy.

  3. LS says:

    Bushco has made clear that Musharraf is their man period.
    Bushco helped lure Bhutto back to Pakistan.
    Bushco did not help her with security.
    Specter was to receive a report that the elections were being rigged – who sent him there?
    The man who shot Bhutto was wearing a suit and sunglasses.
    There is no proof that it was indeed a suicide bomb, there was a bomb, but you can’t prove it was a suicide bomb.
    The killer(s) knew exactly when she would stand up, or lured into standing up.
    When Bhutto got into the car, a man in Pakistani military uniform got into the front seat.
    The medical evidence was covered up and now the hospital reports are apparently missing.
    The medical evidence presented by the government was an outright lie.
    Cheney is in control of Pakistan policy.
    Do the math.

    • TheraP says:

      @4: How does it benefit cheney that Bhutto is gone? That weakens Musharaff, unless you’re thinking it gives him an excuse to take back control of the military again.

      Regarding the bomb, I’d bet it was something they could trigger from a cell or whatever… and with Bhutto not having the jamming equipment, that’s easier. I’m assuming the gunman and accomplices likely did not know they were going to be blown up afterward. Just thought they were part of the one plot. Much easier to blow them up and then no one to speak.

      I still don’t buy that the US was behind the assassination. But methinks the bhutto folks believe that now. OTOH, I’m open to persuasion thereof.

      @5: You nailed it! His demeanor was more like the “deer in the headlights” of bush on the evening of 9/11.

      • LS says:

        Musharraf was already weak. With Bhutto continuing to be in the mix with the support of her people, it would have been even worse. If the election had been rigged successfully, Bhutto’s people would have rallied around her and all hell would break loose with her being able to step into power if Musharraf was overthrown. With Bhutto gone, there is no replacement for her within the near future.

        • TheraP says:

          So your view is she was lured there for an assassination? Easier to do that in Pakistan? cheney behind it in your view? bush not knowing? and an ultimate defeat of Musharaff by the military? and cheney gains what? maybe a pre-agreed deal with the military?

          what a mess!

          Ok. I’m going off and bake a cake!

          • LS says:

            They’ve been buttering up Katani as a possible Musharraf replacement for whatever reason. Bhutto remaining viable and electable and whether she was inside or outside of the country, that was a problem.

            All my comment was meant to do was to lay out the dots and try to connect them. I didn’t say Cheney ordered an assassination. Cheney controls the Pakistan policy.

            I don’t believe that she was killed by Al Qaeda, even if they wanted to get rid of her too, but I don’t think that is what actually happened.

            As far as being lured back, Bhutto was lured back to supposedly “work” with Musharraf, under a false sense of security, which was never forthcoming.

            • TheraP says:

              Ok, now I’m on board with you. cheney “controls” but “they” needed her out of the way… makes sense as it was a party controlled by her – for life. (oops!)

              So it knocks rice off her game. Knocks off Bhutto. And destabilizes Musharaff even more… leading to the military having to step in (even if they were behind it… and given where it took place… ok.

              You’ve convinced me now.

              Yeah, and georgie must have been mighty nervous to think … of his upcoming trip and all.

              Ok, really gonna bake a cake now.

  4. mamayaga says:

    TheraP @3: Chimpy has never been able to successfully impersonate a leader at critical points in his tenure. Not likely a result of conscience, but more likely the reflection of a glimmer coming through the bubble that he isn’t, in fact, THE Decider.

    LS @4: Don’t you also have to factor in the Darth vs Condi axis within our foreign policy? Darth would have no good reason to lure Bhutto back only to have her assassination destabilze what might otherwise have been a nice tidy rigged election for Musharraf. My understanding was that Condi wanted Bhutto in place to provide more convincing cover for the predetermined outcome of Pakistan’s “democratic elections.” That might make the math you refer to more understandable.

    • TheraP says:

      ok, you might have now convinced me! if it’s cheney versus rice, then cheney won!

      So then what is the purpose of destabilizing Pakistan even more? The run-up to martial law here?

  5. JEP07 says:

    TheraP, I have to jump in on this statement of yours, and it is rare that I feel compelled to qualify any of your comments with my own, we tend to be i agreement on most everything, but I think you may be lumping too many co-conspirators together here…

    “I still don’t buy that the US was behind the assassination. But methinks the bhutto folks believe that now. OTOH, I’m open to persuasion thereof.”

    Keep in mind that pre-9-11 TV show that fictionalized what would become reality… and the one line that sums up a lot of our discontent and confusion, “ there you go blaming the whole us GOVERNMENT” for what a small but well-connected faction with unlimited funding and media complicity can accomplish within that greed-driven government…

    Always keep in mind, a conspiracy only requires two co-conspirators, and there have been times when that may well have been the actual number of miscreants involved in shaping this deadly old form of foreign “diplomacy.”

    We need to coin a new phraze for the ages, “Cheney diplomacy” A.K.A. “the blunt-instrument approach” to world policy.

    Friend or foe, just shoot em’ when all else fails…

    So don’t look too deeply for co-conspirators, just peruse the top layer for the few that were necessary to accomplish something this dreadful and, apparently, this transparent.

    • TheraP says:

      While butter is melting…. I thank you for that comment. It was very poorly phrased, and indeed, I’ve often been in the position of feeling “attacked” when someone alleged the US was “behind something.” So, I apologize for the poor word choice, and I apologize to you or anyone who might have felt accused there.

      I hardly watch tv, except for the news, but I follow the quote.

      Thank you for your wise advice. I’m a babe in the woods when it comes to conspiracy. Or having to think my way through these thickets. So, I so appreciate your stepping in here to say that.

      Peace, my friend!

  6. JodiDog says:

    It the sun comes up, it is a Bush/Cheney plot!
    If the sun goes down, it is a Bush/Cheney plot!
    If the sun stays still, it is a Bush/Cheney plot!

    Up – Bush/Cheney plot!
    Down – Bush/Cheney plot!
    Sideways – Bush/Cheney plot!

    Someone needs to feed this group a new script!

      • JodiDog says:

        I will set you a simple exercise.

        Check to see how many times the words Bush or Cheney or some related word is used in the comments before my own.

        • Rayne says:

          And I have read many of your comments before — although I admit I skip a lot of them as not worth the bandwidth.

          Frankly, I am puzzled at your multi-year constancy at defending Bush and Cheney, particularly Cheney. I can’t think of a real conservative who is willing to defend them; I’ve heard far too many actually agree that Cheney is a crook and needs to be removed from office.

          If anybody needs a new script, it’s not this crew. Neither do any of us need an exercise in thinking or reading; I’ve spent 20 out of the last 24 reading about the debris field the persons you protect so fiercely have left in the way of foreign policy.

          I’d forgotten in the debate about Goldsmith the best example to offer Jeff about the fallacy of Goldsmith’s thinking. Read Cooperative Research’s 9/11 Timeline, noting all the failures that mounted in advance of that fateful day; fear-driven authoritarian autocracy cannot guarantee those failures would not happen again. Only solid, persistent, incrementally-improved law enforcement would fix the many breaches in the dike — and this administration had not the wherewithal to fix them prior to or in the wake of that fateful day. Carting off suspects in secrecy for physical and mental abuse within an inch of their lives did not fix ANY of the gaps in security.

          There’s a reason why Bush and Cheney come up so often — because as the persons ultimately responsible for fixing these gaps, they are supposed to be accountable. And even reasonable, rational conservatives know they have gamed the system to weasel their way out of it, from corruption of the DOJ to pathetic foreign policy.

          How is it you can defend a couple of guys who demanded ad nauseum that we preemptively use military force to pursue our agendas in Afghanistan and Iraq, would like to do so again in Iran, but cannot be bothered to ensure that the one best hope for a mediated democracy in a nuclear country did not have the security she needed, in spite of giving 10 billion bucks without strings to its autocratic leader?

          Defend that. Go on

          • JodiDog says:

            Where did I defend Bush/Cheney? I only said that everyone here overreacts to the Bush/Cheney presumed (by this same group) power in all things.
            You end up blaming everything on them or those perceived to be their friends or clients.

            I don’t think anyone has a great deal of control in Pakistan including the various groups in Pakistan, and the ones outside of it, like the US.

            Unfortunately everyone over there in Pakistan has their own agenda, and are glad to take the US money and misuse it, and take the US advice and ignore it or not bother at all.

            I remember this same group at TNH and FDL over estimated the power and effect of the new Democratic Majority for 2007.

            You are typically off the charts in wild expectations or fears.

            I only seek to ground you a little, or you will continue to be ineffective in battling this (according to you) really stupid fellow named George Bush who has stolen the Presidency from you twice, has the Mainline Media in his pocket like those quoted so many coins, and whose Devil’s type familiar Dick Cheney is the personification of all evil.

            At least Karl Rove and Rumsfeld seem to be disappearing from your common Lexicon

  7. Rickbrew says:

    TheraP @6

    Regarding the bomb being possibly set off by a cell phone, Malik (Bhutto’s security chief) was reported in The Hindu as saying:

    “Rehman Malik, a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and Security Advisor to Bhutto, asked the Interior Ministry to provide “fault-free jammers along with a technician to ensure full protection” to her from any attempted attack.

    This is the third time that the PPP has complained to the Interior Ministry about jammers provided to Bhutto being faulty. Bhutto survived a suicide bomb attack on her homecoming rally in Karachi on October 18 that killed 140 people.

    In his letter to the Interior Secretary, Malik, a former Federal Investigation Agency chief, said: “I regret to inform that the jammers provided by Sindh Police to cover the movements of Benazir Bhutto on 23-12-2007 did not work, which is a serious lapse in the light of the serious security threat already conveyed to us by Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema, Director General, National Crisis Management Cell, Ministry of Interior.”

    “Similarly, the jammers provided for the protection of Benazir Bhutto during her trip to Rahimyar Khan on 24-12-2007 also failed to work, exposing (her) to a high risk.”

    Malik said the PPP had “made repeated requests for provision of proper fault-free jammers for the protection of Benazir Bhutto but in every trip the jammers have failed to work.”

    This was published December 25th. The assassination was the 27th. That his complaint was to the Ministry of Interior suggests that the Pakistani Police were providing the Jammers.

    But the BBC Channel 4 news report identified an individual wearing typical Pushtan dress as being the suicide bomber. Such a person was right next to the SUV as the gunman was shooting and was still there when the bomb went off.

  8. skdadl says:

    In terms of the real realities in Pakistan (as distinct from attempts to create reality from Washington), this doesn’t have to be an either/or, and it probably isn’t. Significant elements of the ISI and the Pakistani military are perfectly capable of putting al-Qaeda or other agents into play any time they like, and that’s my guess about what happened. The ISI helped to create al-Qaeda — that’s hardly a secret. Musharraf has more or less protected them, too, with at least tacit acceptance from Washington.

    I agree with Hugh’s post @ 1. The puzzles remain about what Cheney and the State Department were doing (or thought they were doing), but I’m more inclined to guess naïveté and incompetence on both their parts than active guilt, except in so far as Musharraf is indeed Cheney’s man and Cheney mainly doesn’t care what Musharraf does as long as he co-operates in the ways that matter to Cheney.

    Bhutto’s naïveté is most tragic. She is the one who should have known better, above all.

    • Rayne says:

      Bhutto’s naïveté is most tragic. She is the one who should have known better, above all.

      Is it that she was naive, or that she genuinely believed Condi Rice and genuinely believed that power-sharing was going to be the only answer to navigating this situation?

      I don’t think we can really blame the victim when there are so many reports of “lapses” in security: jammers that don’t work, police disappearing from the area immediately before the assassination, contracts for private security that don’t materialize…

      At some point all these little coincidences cease to be accidents of fate — where is that point?

    • JodiDog says:

      I read both sides and the middle as well. That is how I have become so well informed.

      : )
      : )
      : )

      • Neil says:

        I read both sides and the middle as well. That is how I have become so well informed.

        …a nay sayer and self-congratulatory provacateur. I think that’s about all there is coming from there. Do you think Jodidog will e v e r respond to a thoughtful post written to engage her in a political discussion about her own opinions….mmmmm no.

        • Rayne says:

          Not worth the bandwidth, Neil. Incurious and derogatory, like the white supremacist who’s been harassing me this week. Claims I’m not well-educated, that I need to learn more about their issues. Um, yeah. Whatever.

          Better to spend the energy putting together all the alleged security failures since Bhutto arrived in Pakistan, until she was assassinated; you’ll get a lot more out of the exercise, and we might find an answer or three.

    • Neil says:

      Hurray for the Blue and Maize. They fought hard and beat a good team. Who remembers how Florida finished last year and the year before? MIvFL may be the game of the day… Illinois looks a little unsure and USC knows how to turn it on hard and fast. (Will someone please get the big hook and yank Brent Mussburger off the stage?)

      Happy New Year everyone. Ok back to Bhutto and State.

    • freepatriot says:

      I’d like to ask Jodi why she continues to keep reading Emptywheel.

      the shit stain is a paid provocateur

      couldn’t figure that much out by the quality of the posts ???

      as to why the shit stain is paid to read emptywheel ???

      cuz emptywheel has got the bastards scared

      freepers don’t like smart people

      • JodiDog says:

        This is your one “freebie.”

        On a dark wintry night, a tall thin woman in a hooded raincoat moves quickly up the granite stairs of the old Main Library.
        The 2nd year law student sitting at the check out gate just inside the entrance is studying and pays no attention at all to anyone entering the library.

        She proceeds though the gate, and past the main lobby toward the restrooms, but then takes a circuitous route to the back of the level where she takes the old service lift to the top floor, then down a side stair to the second floor, and then across the second floor to another side stair where she quietly goes to the basement’s 2nd level.
        All that is left down here besides storage, are old study carrels, and a dozen of the antiquated long table lamp desks. No one is in sight. She seats herself quietly at the front most desk in the brightest part of the room, and without removing her coat or hood pulls her new Fujitsu Lifebook U810 out of an inside coat pocket to continue checking her data.

        All is quiet for about 15 minutes but then she suddenly realizes that someone is now sitting at the back desk which only has a single lamp lit. It is a man she thinks, in a raincoat also but with a rain hat rather than a hood. It is apparent that he has a large head and is wearing glasses, but his face in darkened by the brim of the hat.,

        She seems to idly flick the fingers of her left hand, at times drumming on the desk. The man also moves his fingers. After a few minutes of intricate sign/countersign, she moves toward the back to sit beside the man on the desk. She silently passes him a flash drive which he takes and slips inside his coat, and shirt and inserts into a port in his armpit. (And some think him low tech!) After a few seconds he says


        “Karl and Scooter say you have good intelligence, and I agree to the new payment schedule, except for someone called “freepatriot.”

        “I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for posting remarks to that (expletive deleted).”
        “Does that mean he is is worth 1 cent?”
        “No, nothing! I wouldn’t even spend Government Money on him.”

        The man with the big head then stands, hands back the flash drive, and starts to fade back into the darkness but she hears him say as he leaves.

        “Keep up the good work, kid. Stick to them like a tick on one of my bird dogs, and come 2009, we will talk about a hunting trip. You can have one of the new flak jackets, if you like.”

        A few minutes after he is gone, she feels a slight shudder which snaps her back to reality, and she then scrutinizes the flash drive in her hand.

        “I wonder if I can wash it along with my hands.”

    • emptywheel says:

      Would you believe I only now just got my DTV signal working, and I missed the game entirely.

      I turn on the damn TV just for football, and this far this season, I missed the Jags-Pittsburgh game and Michigan’s bowl game.

      • radiofreewill says:

        EW – It was a good game, despite Michigan doing everything they could to give it away with 4 turnovers. It seemed clear to me that the UM-community rallied behind Carr, and the team, to send him out a Winner – nice sign of a class program and supportive alumni.

  9. skdadl says:

    Surely Benazir Bhutto knew a lot more about Pakistan than Condi Rice does, and more: she must have known she knew a lot more.

    I don’t mean to blame Bhutto; I genuinely don’t understand why she did what she did. I can see Rice thinking it might be a good idea, but I am surprised that Bhutto did or that she would trust Rice.

    Of course it was not an accident of fate. There were powerful people in Pakistan who wanted to assassinate Benazir Bhutto, and that was no accident, nor was it a situation she was unaware of.

    • LS says:

      She apparently didn’t trust the Administration, which is why she was going to give the report about the rigging of the elections to Specter and Kennedy the evening of the day she was murdered.

      She was fully aware of the risks she was taking and perhaps her assassination will be the catalyst that ultimately brings more moderate factions into the government of Pakistan in the long run. Time will tell.

  10. bmaz says:

    Perhaps Lloyd Carr can go coach up the Ravens; it is hard to see how he could be any less of an “offensive genius” than Brian Billick. Ok, thats a cheap shot considering I like and respect Carr; it is just that I have never understood Billick’s cache and, even for those that thought he might be a great coach after their Super Bowl run a few years back, it has been clear for two or three years now that the wheels were coming off in Baltimore. good riddance to Billick. But good fortune smiles on Lloyd Carr and EW today. Despite my anti-Big 10 bias, I have to say that college football needs more Lloyd Carrs, not less. A class act.

  11. skdadl says:

    In response to Rayne and LS:

    To qualify my own comments, one thought: it may be that Bhutto had more faith than I think I do in what appears to have been a middle-class uprising in Pakistan through the last year — the judges’ rebellion, the lawyers’ protests, and the significant support that appeared in some urban centres for those movements.

    I don’t know. I’m sure those movements have a future, or at least I hope they do, but I don’t know that their time has come.

    • LS says:

      I think that sounds right.

      My thought is that the powers that be that want to control the events in the M.E., both externally and internally, do not want an uprising of anyone, middle class or extremist. The middle class is much, much more powerful and dangerous to the current leaders in Pakistan than the extremists are, so I’d guess they want to prevent the middle class from spoiling their agenda.

      If that were not the case, we would have seen destruction of the extremists by the powers that be, both external and internal; yet, nothing has been done about it in Pakistan during our current Administration other than throwing good money after bad that has not been used to stop extremism.

      Instead, we see the assassination of the candidate for the middle class and poor, who opposed the government leader that our administration supports.

  12. MadDog says:

    I’m still trying to figure out what side Novakula is playing on.

    He seems to be “friends” with Bhutto (that’s a real stretch since Novakula has no friends, simply propaganda sources), yet he also seems to be taking Rice and the DoS to task for their naivete, intransigence and incompetence.

    Does this mean that Novakula is still on the Dark Side with Deadeye? Then why seemingly does Novakula support Bhutto’s re-emergence into Pakistan and its politics?

    Does this mean that Deadeye too wanted Bhutto in Pakistan to provide “emergency” cover for Mushie?

    Does that mean Condi “Still technically a virgin” Rice thought that Bhutto could/would replace Mushie?

    Does this mean that Condi lost the bet, but that Deadeye was cheating?

    • emptywheel says:

      Remember that paleo Novak actually disapproves of this Administration’s imperial fantasies.

      Though if I had to pick, I’d have to say Condi lost the bet bc Dick cheated. Plus, it’s unclear whose side Boucher is on.

      • MadDog says:

        Remember that paleo Novak actually disapproves of this Administration’s imperial fantasies.

        I myself would qualify that to say that Novakula loves him some Unitary Executive, but as an Isolationist, he’d rather have the troops here at home defending his BFFs from the hordes of DFH citizenry.

      • phred says:

        MadDog — I would also add that Novak is chummier with the Rove camp than the Darth camp. I find it interesting that just as the threat of a subpoena for Rove was starting to gain some real traction, the headlines have been all Darth all the time (torture tapes, Pakistan). And who was the Former Senior Administration Official who threw Addington under the bus on the destroyed CIA tapes? I don’t know, but as I was reading EW’s chapter on the Fleischer misdirection during the Plame affair over the holidays, it got me wondering what KKKKarl’s been up to lately and whether he’s been turning any of his legendary hostility in Dick’s direction both out of spite and a bit of self-preservation…

        • Hmmm says:

          Rove is Team W, who are distinct from but closer to the ERs, and therefore to the Saudis as well. Team Dick is distinct from — and frequently working against — both Team W and the ERs. It seems there is a majority CIA camp associated with the ERs and therefore slightly associated with Team W, and another smaller CIA camp associated with Team Dick — and they are continually wrestling with each other and undertaking operations out in the world that are at odds with one another. DOD seems to have a similar schism, with Team Dick’s side seemingly more in control, at least until recently. State, on the other hand, seems to be some kind of loose appendage flapping to and fro on the side.

          If that’s correct, then this essential geometry would explain an awful lot, all the way from Valerie Wilson through to the Bhutto assassination, and it would help explain why KR would want to help the big effort to contain Team Dick. If W was shaken, I would think it might because he’d be afraid of a palace coup, perhaps via proxy, perhaps during the upcoming Israel trip. That would not surprise me.

          • phred says:

            Yep. I think we’re seeing some really interesting power struggles playing out both here and abroad and I think you’re correct in the alignment of factions you describe. Everything over the past 2 or 3 months feels like a power shift where Cheney is increasingly isolated and exposed. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out and how soon his faction (and he himself) is brought down. I think it is only a matter of time.

          • BlueStateRedHead says:

            ‘morning. if anyone is there, who/what is ER besides an emergency room. So I’ll know what a palace coup looks like.

            • skdadl says:

              Someone ‘way back there invented ER as shorthand for Establishment Republicans, or something close to that. Sorry — I’m running too.

  13. mamayaga says:

    There’s no point in trying to engage Jodi — he/she/it/they is a piecework troll, paid per comment, probably in bags of Cheetohs. You can tell because someone who truly believed differently from the general run of commenter here would try to marshal, you know, arguments to convince us otherwise, ones that included logic, links, and content. Those qualities are generally lacking from a Jodi comment. Instead you get simple assertions (in bold!) that we are overreacting to Bushco, or little personal vignettes with no point, or statements designed to provoke, not to persuade.

    I remember when Jodi first started stalking EW, he/she/it/they would begin every comment with a statement to the effect that of course Bush is evil and inept, BUT… and then segue into a lukewarm defense of the Chimpster. This, I think, was to try to gain the natives’ confidence. Now the feigned solidarity is omitted, and he/she/it/they goes straight to the tepid provocation. It’s about as effective now as then, but someone has wasted a lot of Cheetohs in the meantime.

  14. BayStateLibrul says:

    OT, but this is by far the best analysis of The Patsy’s cheating
    scandal, or their trip to the dark side… (The Trash Talking Thread has
    closed its door for the time being)

    “As much as we love it, and treasure it, and bet on it, the NFL is at its heart one of the most stunningly amoral enterprises this country has developed since the death of Jay Gould. It depends, primarily, on the destruction of the human body, no less than boxing does. It is a great, galumphing corporate beast, reckless with its players, and heedless in its civic effects, good and bad.
    For proof, look no further than the interview that Commissioner Roger Goodell gave before Saturday night’s game. The league had been knuckled by some suddenly lifelike Democratic congresscritters into making the game generally available on television, instead of restricting it to the NFL Network, as was originally planned. Keeping a completely straight face, and listening intently to hear a cock crow, Goodell said that the decision was all about “the fans,” and that it had nothing to do with the ongoing wrangle between the league and America’s cable-television providers. Goodell then handed us off to what amounted to a five-hour infomercial for the NFL Network. (Poor Bryant Gumbel was lucky he wasn’t wearing decals, like a stock car.)
    This is the ethical context in which Belichick and the Patriots got caught cheating. Forgive me if my outrage died some time before Thanksgiving.”

    Charlie Pierce

  15. Minnesotachuck says:

    I’ve been only in and out (mostly out) today, what with recovering from last night and getting Daughter #1 to the airport, but Juan Cole picked up a scoop this morning:

    An attorney for the physicians who put out the story that Ms. Bhutto died of a concussion went to CNN on Monday and said that his clients were pressured by the military. They appear not to have actually agreed with the concussion story, and felt coerced but could not speak out because they had been threatened with being fired if they did.

    It looks increasingly as though someone in the military government in Pakistan may have been somehow complicit in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

    Is this just old news?

  16. MadDog says:

    One person who “benefits” from Bhutto’s assasination is former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League N (Nawaz group) party.

    Per the AP:

    Former PM Now Leads Pakistan Opposition

    In his two turns as prime minister in the 1990s, Nawaz Sharif tried to endear himself to Pakistan’s people with populist policies and did little to please the United States and other foreign allies. He might yet get the chance to repeat that role.

    Last week’s assassination of his erstwhile rival, Benazir Bhutto, has left Sharif, who cultivated ties with the Taliban and tested nuclear weapons while in office, as the standard-bearer of the opposition to President Pervez Musharraf…


    Although Sharif is no fundamentalist, the United States is still wary of him, amid doubts about his willingness to take on extremists with the conviction of Bhutto, and because of his links to Islamic parties.

    “He’s a right-wing politician, he’s not secular by any means, he is very close to the religious parties,” said Rashid, the author. “He has never really condemned extremism, certainly not in the way Bhutto has.”

    That said, the battle against extremism has, even in the minds of many moderate Pakistanis, taken a back seat to unseating Musharraf…

  17. ProfessorFoland says:

    I found myself in the bizarre position this afternoon of nearly rooting for UM (sorry, as an Illini some things are just beyond the pale), hoping they’d help the Big-10 get a little conference-oriented respect. Well, UM did their part, but my team…

    Even as a homer, I thought the 2001 Illinois Sugar Bowl team was the worst team to appear in a BCS game. The 2008 team is sure giving them a run for the money. USC has discovered we have no credible downfield threat (Juice is simply not good at throwing, which is an undesirable quality in a QB.) Our defense can only keep us in this one for so long before they wear out. Sigh. At least OSU can still carry the Big-10 flag.

    • bmaz says:

      Ohio State should be thanking the football gods that they didn’t have to play USC; they would have fared only slightly better than Illinois. USC should be playing in the title game.

      • freepatriot says:

        or maybe the big ten just sucks

        Illinois ain’t worthy to be on the same field as a BCS team

        Mizzou should have played USC, and then Illinois could have played Arkansas, a school much more on Illinois level

  18. Rayne says:

    At least Karl Rove and Rumsfeld seem to be disappearing from your common Lexicon

    Then you really haven’t been paying attention.

    Don Siegelman? Rove’s up to his shiny bald pate in it.

    Rummy? Multiple suits in Sweden, Germany, France against him for violations against the 1984 Convention Against Torture; had to skip out of France in a hurry in October.

    You are typically following your talking points and unable to think for yourself.

    And yes, virtually everything you’ve ever written here has been a blind defense for the radical neo-liberalist shock doctrine you’d like to think is conservatism. Can you even admit they’ve done anything wrong, anything, during their entire tenure in office, during their entire grip on Congress as a majority?

    You can find and keep the answer to yourself as far as I’m concerned. This had been a moderately productive conversation among people who don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye, but were trying to find common ground, until the subject was derailed.

  19. MadDog says:

    For some added spice to EW’s post, checkout Pat Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008 and the latest post of “Bhutto’s Murder” by Richard Sale, UPI Intelligence Correspondent.

    Selected tidbits:

    The chief suspects in the Bhutto assassination, as of forty eight hours ago, were lower and mid-level officers of Pakistan’s ISI, intelligence agency, and the Pakitani army…

    …In fact, according to an Indian counterintelligence source, B Raman, with whom I used to stay in close touch, the ISI’s Internal Political Division poisoned two of Bhutto’s brothers on the French Rivera in 1985, to try to scare her out returning to Pakistan in order to run not only the PPP but another group she had started, the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD). She ignored Zia and returned…

    …But factions within the ISI detested her, and in 1996, assassinated her only remaining brother outside his house Karachi in September, according to former US officials. A former ISI station chief in New Delhi hatched a plot to assassinate her in 1995, but the plan was foiled…

  20. Hmmm says:

    Is the polarization here really Rice v. Cheney? I’m reminded of the early December discussions about Team Dick getting pwned and boxed by Establishment Republicans (ER) via the NIE leak, and the close connection to the ER’S dear friends the Saudis. The Bhutto situation looks to me like the Saudis backing Sharif are most likely coming out on top — Mushi is compromised goods, no longer viable, especially now that Bhutto is obviously a martyr and Mushi obviously tried to conceal that truth with his nutter Magic Sunroof Handle Theory. (It would be oh so tempting and satisfying to give Magic Bullet Theory author Snarlin’ Arlen credit for that one, since he was in da house at the time.) Therefore I might be thinking more about Saudi and ER involvement in setting Bhutto up — there’s certainly enough money there to get ‘er done — and less about Team Dick who seem Mushi-centric.

    Who knows, maybe Team Dick was betting on throwing the election to Mushi as a way to restore enough legitimacy to keep him in power for a while, but Team ER was smarter and better informed and so they bet instead on hitting Bhutto in such a way as to make it look like it was Mushi who actually did it — thus destroying any possibility of Mushi regaining any appearance of legitimacy and thereby ensuring an overwhelming Sharif win. Which fits with today’s Pakistani government announcement that the elections are off for now.

    • phred says:

      I’m late to this thread, but your comment sums up my view of this pretty well, there are much broader interests playing in Pakistan than the Cheney/Condi neo-con spat and the Saudis are in the middle of pretty much all things Middle Eastern.

  21. Hmmm says:

    Just for context: The Pakistani Army is strongly Islamist, and harbors AQ which is (at least nominally) led by OBL who is the black sheep of a wealthy and prominent Saudi family.

  22. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    OT, sorry to butt in and will shortly commence catching up with this thread, but I’m in need of smelling salts after a comment that I made on previous post. If Rayne still online, and/or OrionATL or TheraP, would be interested in whether I am completely nuts – or on to something.

    Because if I am ‘on to something’, then Bu$hCo need to be handed over to the Hague before the end of January. And I say that with all due respect to the Constitution, the military, and fellow citizens of all partisan views.

    • Rayne says:

      Which thread, rOTL? Will go there in a sec.

      MadDog(54) — I can’t help think of this family photo after reading your post. So heart breaking to think that the politics of Pakistan systematically went after and has nearly obliterated this family.

      OT — damn, I missed this somewhere along the line. I didn’t know that Karpinski had provided testimony against Rummy:

      Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, submitted written testimony to the Paris Prosecutor for the plaintiffs’ case on Rumsfeld’s responsibility for the abuse of detainees.

      Wonder what she said?

      • bmaz says:

        Something to the effect of “That addled old fucking gas bag, who is convinced he is a cross between Will Rogers and Clark Gable, said to make sure to shock their nuts before waterboarding them”.

      • MadDog says:

        MadDog(54) — I can’t help think of this family photo after reading your post. So heart breaking to think that the politics of Pakistan systematically went after and has nearly obliterated this family.

        And with all the lack of skills, understanding and knowledge they can muster, Shrubble, Deadeye and Condi replay every foible of The Ugly American.

        Cluelessness has reached a new low.

    • TheraP says:

      rOTL: I have always found your comments to be eminently sane and helpful. I can understand your horror at coming to that conclusion. And it had not occurred to me, but…. I hate to say it… you could be right. Right away I had this image of bush on his exercise equipment watching “torture on demand.”

      And I totally “get” the point you’re making. If that was the case, then yes, we’re looking at one …. fingernail biting situation.

      Thanks for your request. I am sure you’re sane. I assure you. Insane people don’t question their sanity. They simply report stuff with no attempt to question it.

      Like a “reality show.” Horrible as that sounds. In real time. OMG!

  23. WilliamOckham says:


    I’ve always assumed that there was a really possibility that Bush watched some of the torture tapes, but I doubt he would have done it in real-time. Bush has a very sick streak and delights in the physical tormenting of others, but he wouldn’t have the patience to wait through the ‘boring’ parts. I think it’s more likely they made a highlight reel for him.

    Cheney’s too smart to have been involved in anything traceable. Rumsfeld’s just too low-tech. His involvement is all text.

    • MadDog says:

      Cheney’s too smart to have been involved in anything traceable.

      Perhaps that was just awkwardly phrased.

      I took it to mean that Deadeye is always involved in bad stuff, but makes real sure to leave no fingerprints.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Exactly right. Richard Bruce Cheney is one of the few people in this world I believe to be obviously evil. Only the smartest evil people are able to be successful.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I agree with WO.
        In fact, happened to spend half the night last night riveted with Craig Unger’s new book, “Fall of the House of Bush”. It makes the point in many ways that part of Cheney’s ‘talent’ is his ability to hide his intentions, and hide his tracks.

        Look at election 2000 — who in the mainstream press covered Cheney as anything but ‘the heavy lifter’, or the ‘advisor’ or the ’steady hand’. Unger gives a very dark sense of Cheney’s corrosive resentments; he’s not a man to brook opposition, nor to leave tracks.

        That’s why he’s so dangerous.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            So we’re ‘agreed to the fourth power’?
            Wow, that took awhile ;-))

            CTuttle, hope that kid of yours is recovered.

            • CTuttle says:

              Mahalo! He seems to be doing well! My Warriors need to settle down… At least they answered the Dawg’s TD with a FG… Colt needs to go deep…

              • bmaz says:

                Man, I am rooting for the Rainbow Warriors as hard as I can. I still have affection for the WAC from when ASU and UofA were in it, and I cheer anything that serves to poke a stick in the eye of the BCS; so I am strong for Hawaii. That said, so far, their speed and athleticism does not quite look ready for prime time. This Knowshon Moreno kid from UGA is something special though, especially for a true freshman.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Thx, WO.
      I always have the highest regard for your succinct analyses.

      But what a creepy thought, when it came to me.
      And would unquestionably be grounds for impeachment, then jail.
      Nixon was a creep, but he never pulled this kind of sh*t. And at least he served in the military.

  24. freepatriot says:

    Bhutto’s folks appear to be preparing to make the case that the State Department’s public claim to be supporting democracy were just a sham.

    that’s a double “DUH” statement

    who didn’t know that presnit george’s support for democracy doesn’t go beyond lip service

    and who couldn’t figure out that “Bhutto’s Folks” would make that fact plain to see

    • MadDog says:

      I can just hear Condi “Still technically a virgin” Rice now:

      “Who could have known?”

      As in:

      “Who could have known they’d fly planes into buildings?”
      “Who could have known they wouldn’t welcome us with flowers?”
      “Who could have known that Hamas would win the elections?”
      “Who could have known that Bhutto would be assasinated?”
      “Who could have known it would smell like shite after I stuck my head up my ass?

  25. bmaz says:

    I’m sticking with wishing Ohio State had played USC, because nothing is so consistent and so satisfying as a Pac-10 team whuppin a Big Ten team come bowl season. Some things are just meant to be….

  26. Loo Hoo. says:

    bmaz, you had a three part link on Monks being tortured last week. I was on really expensive internet and could not read them at the time. Could you direct me to that comment?

    • bmaz says:

      Loo Hoo – The links to the three part series are here. The monks were not tortured, however, they were lined up (9 of them I think) and shot execution style. A series of suspects were subsequently subjected to inappropriate interrogation techniques, among a whole boatload of other due process and civil rights violations. I would not term what occurred “torture” within the meaning we have been discussing here though; however, the lessons on the suggestibility of subjects detained in what is made to seem a hopeless situation is pretty instructive. It is also a fascinating and mind blowing story that is a good read.

  27. mamayaga says:

    readerOfTeaLeaves: In regard to the creepy speculations about the possible personal involvement of Bush and/or Cheney in ongoing torture, recall that it has already been reported that Rumsfeld kept close tabs on the “progress” of torture sessions at Guantanamo (

    It’s not much of a leap to go from weekly phone calls to real time monitoring. Someone prepared to participate in the former may be quite willing to participate in the latter. And no reason to think Bush or Cheney have any better developed scruples than Rumsfeld.

    The only question in my mind is whether either would be willing to accept potential liability by being that much a part of it. They may not have thought that there was any potential liability, however. To the extent that this seems to have all happened before Abu Ghraib broke, and to the extent that at one time it looked like we might be on our way to a permanent one-party system, the players may have thought at the time that it would remain secret forever.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s not much of a leap to go from weekly phone calls to real time monitoring. Someone prepared to participate in the former may be quite willing to participate in the latter. And no reason to think Bush or Cheney have any better developed scruples than Rumsfeld

      Yup. Not a far walk. I wonder that it didn’t occur to us to discuss this in more depth sooner. In 1994 I bought a baby monitor that could do audio monitoring in real time for my firstborn. Now, I can buy a video monitor for about the same price. I can run down to Harbor Freight and buy a video camera for outdoor use that feeds to my laptop or television monitor for 35 bucks.

      SecDef and EO/VP can certainly afford better and over satellite to boot.

      And here we’ve been talking about tapes or DVD…

      • Hmmm says:

        Minor technical amplification: I would expect the long distance video link to be encrypted, to prevent viewing via any unauthorized intercepts of the signal en route. It seems we heard about Administration use of ’secure teleconferences’ all the time, during early phases of the war.

        • Rayne says:

          Piece of cake technologically speaking, even in 2002.

          Think about it; we’re used to getting live feed from space stations. What’s encrypted feed from a black site?

          • bmaz says:

            Rayne – Somewhere in a report since the torture tape scandal broke, may well have come out of one of the interviews of Kirakou, it was stated that “people at the very top”, or something to that effect, were making every decision on how long each individual “enhanced technique” would be applied, and when to escalate to the next level of technique in the progression. It was certainly implied, or at least I took it to be at the time I read it, that the people making these decisions, in effectively real time, were either Pentagon, Langley or White House. My thought at the time was “I’ll bet Cheney is in on that”. This would all be consistent with what you have been discussing….

          • Hmmm says:

            What’s encrypted feed from a black site?

            NB, if the feed travelled over conventional links — which may well have seemed safe at the time precisely because the feed was encypted — then that encryption could have been the only thing keeping it from the prying eyes of the telecoms and/or NSA. If they hoovered everything up, as many suspect is done as a matter of course, then the encrypted recordings might still exist somewhere. However, no encryption is unbreakable, it’s just that it takes a certain amount of time to figure out the cyphering method and the crypto keys. And by now, considerable time has elapsed since the original transmissions would have happened. So, the recordings of the encrypted transmissions could, perhaps, have been broken by now.

            Hmmm. I wonder whether a government codebreaker might have been the source for the copies that surfaced in 9/2007. Might have happened in a part of the gov’t that was sympathetic to the ERs and/or Team W. Or in another country — “Excuse me, kindly American CIA person — by any chance, did you fellows happen lose this?”

            • MadDog says:

              As a techie, I’m gonna have to make a few corrections here.

              However, no encryption is unbreakable, it’s just that it takes a certain amount of time to figure out the cyphering method and the crypto keys.

              Ummmm…some high-end encryption techniques are believed to be unbreakable. That’s a strongly held position by a goodly number of Lordly Mathematicians. *g*

              Some high-end encryption techniques can theoretically be broken, but it would take more computers than the number of stars in the entire Universe, and would take longer than the Universe has already been in existence.

              Secondly, though the National Security Agency (NSA) is known for their expertise in breaking encryptions, they also are the very same folks who design the encryptions used for communications in our Military and Intelligence organzations in the first place.

              I’m guessing that they wouldn’t need to “break” said encrypted traffic since they designed and own the key.

              Lastly, the Telcos ain’t got the computer horsepower, the time, nor the math expertise to be decrypting NSA-supplied encryption.

              • Hmmm says:

                Ummmm…some high-end encryption techniques are believed to be unbreakable. That’s a strongly held position by a goodly number of Lordly Mathematicians. *g*

                Didn’t we have this same difference of opinion a few months ago? (insert happy smiley here) For what it’s worth, I used to work in crypto. Without rabbitholing, I’ll leave it at this: There are many ways of encrypting video, some more expensive to crack than others; and while NSA-provided encryption may have been used, other possibilities exist — this was a black op after all, and so NSA may have been out of the loop.

                Also I was suggesting the possibility not only that USG codebreakers might have done this, but that codebreakers working for other countries might have done this.

                Lastly, I was not suggesting the telcos would have been the ones to crack the crypto; sorry if my wording was imprecise there.

                • MadDog says:

                  Didn’t we have this same difference of opinion a few months ago? (insert happy smiley here)

                  We may well have and I don’t remember who won. Coulda been a tie. *g*

                  As to being a black op and the possibility of the NSA being out of the loop, that’s a possibility.

                  But…given the extreme potential for bad things to happen should the video get out, I’d guess heavy duty encryption was a given. And that would have likely been encryption provided by the Government’s Encryption Factory, the NSA.

                  As to other countries decrypting the video feed, perhaps we should ask the Russians or the Chinese if they could reconstitute a copy for all our investigations since the poor, ol’ CIA done destroyed lost theirs. *g*

                  On a more serious note, I’d hazard a guess that the CIA would make use of the dedicated encrypted MILSAT communications facilities if the CIA was provided video feeds back to HQ and/or the WH.

                  And like many other folks here, I’m guessing there must be digital copies floating around within the ghost servers that handle the traffic. Even digital copies on individual PCs that were captured by spook folks involved in evaluating the take.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Yeah, if you hadn’t used that term ‘remote viewing‘ in your thread comment, it wouldn’t have occurred to me.

        An administration that can shower millions of dollars on Musharef, send millions in cash on planes to Baghdad, and squander billions on no-bid contracts can certainly afford good remoting hookups. (Remember when Bush was seen remoting to give a ‘pep talk’ to hand-picked troops in Baghdad, and the feed ‘accidentally’ picked up that the soldiers’ PR officer was cueing them, and rehearsing what they should say to Bush? That was a really good remote hookup — full screen! I was envious.)

        So this whole topic of possible violations being done remotely could also tie in with FISA.
        Sh*t, no wonder they’re desparate to cover telco butts.
        B/c IF they were remoting info about interrogations, then they’d sure as hell want to control all online communication, mostly to cover their criminal asses.
        (Here’s one more reason for Congress NOT to give the telcos immunity!)
        [However, I defer to Mad Dogs and WO and other commenters on the strength of the linkages.]

        Of course Bu$hCo would have implicated telcos in crimes. The more partners in crime, the lower the chances of being held accountable. Something like this would also underscore Cheney’s obsession with controlling information: intercepts, copies, or anything related to remote interogations.

        The possibility of remote interrogations didn’t occur to us b/c we’re fundamentally decent people who are revolted by pain and suffering. It’s just ‘outside our context of reference’, so it wouldn’t have occurred to us to associate remoting technologies with human rights violations.

        The Bu$hCo torture, and torture tape, denials have been too finely-diced to be credible, but if they were using remoting, that would definitely explain much of their weaving-and-bobbing around the questions of torture and videos.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Agree completely. Add on psych studies of how people feel ‘distanced’ from things when they are viewing them through a camera, or a tv screen. And given the bizarre legal twisties and logic loop-de-loops they create, it all fits that they’d categorize this as ‘not participating’ [because not in the precise physical location] while still being able to ‘monitor’.

      See WO’s comments, however.
      I think Congress needs to confirm that this DID NOT occur.
      Failing to investigate is turning a blind eye at this point, and participating in willful denial.

      Even a suspicion of something this grisly requires investigation.

      Jeezuz, I long for the days when I tuned out of newz about blue stained dresses, as what was passed off as political newz seemed too National Inquirer to merit my time. Ah, nostalgia…!

  28. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Glad to hear it.
    Now you only have to deal with the bills…
    Glad the kid is on the mend.

  29. MadDog says:

    And for more spice to add to EW’s post, checkout Ken Silverstein over at Harper’s with a post entitled: Support for Taliban Missing from Bhutto Obits

    He quotes from Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden:

    Benazir Bhutto, who was secretly authorizing the Taliban’s covert aid, did not let the Americans know. She visited Washington in the spring of 1995, met with President Clinton, and promoted the Taliban as a pro-Pakistan force that could help stabilize Afghanistan… During her visit and for many months afterward Bhutto and her aides repeatedly lied to American government officials and members of Congress about the extent of Pakistani military and financial aid to the Taliban… Bhutto had decided it was more important to appease the Pakistani army and intelligence service than to level with her American friends.

  30. MadDog says:

    More spice for ya’ll’s stew. Over at Pat Lang’s place, an “old friend and colleague” of Pat’s by the name of Frank Anderson had this comment to make:

    There are at least a few reasons to question the rush to judgment that ISI is behind Bhutto’s murder. There are multiple suspects with equal of great motive, means and opportunity.

    It’s certainly risky to base any conclusions re ISI on the comments of their rivals in Indian intelligence.

    Richard’s comment that Benazhir took ISI out of the job of supporting the Taliban in 1993 is questionable in light of Taliban history. They didn’t appear on the scene until 1994. When they did, it was Benazhir and her police force, not ISI, that supported them. They did so simply to protect Pakistani trucking interests (much owned by the Bhuttos) who needed a force to get their cargoes safely across Afghanistan.

    It might also be useful to remind ourselves of the Bhutto family history. The old man was not a clean handed martyr when he was executed (not assassinated). Benazhir’s brothers were terrorists who lined up with our Soviet “rivals.” ISI is by no means the only or even the most likely suspect in the poisoning death of her brother, Shahnawaz. The evidence is strongest that it was Benazhir and her police allies who killed the other brother, Murtaza in 1996. (He’d become a politcal rival and had set up a rival PPP.). There was no indication of ISI involvement.

    The idea that Benazhir had a serious intention to “do more” about jihadis in the frontier provinces is questionable. The proposition that she would have had more motivation or capability than the Musharraf regime to do so is close to laughable.

    Note that since Colonel Pat Lang worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for a very long time, was “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and also was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I believe his “old friend and colleague” Frank Anderson is none other than:

    Frank Anderson was the CIA’s Near East Division Chief from 1991-94.

    You can read some of his Frontline program interview immediately prior to the Iraq War here.

    And from a Ken Silverstein interview with Frank Anderson at Harpers about a year ago wrt to Iraq here.

  31. freepatriot says:

    anybody who thinks we ain’t thru the looking glass here, take a look at the new statement from musharif:

    Caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz Khan has asked the media and people to “forgive and ignore” comments made by his ministry’s spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema

    no harm, no foul

    pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

    and WHY did musharif release this “NEW” statement ???

    The government’s apparent damage control exercise on Cheema’s comments made at a news conference a day after Bhutto was assassinated at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on December 27, came after TV channels aired privately shot photos and video footage which showed a gunman shooting at Bhutto.

    The Pakistan People’s Party leader is seen … falling through the sun-roof before the suicide bomber detonated his explosives.

    so musharif was FLAT OUT FUCKING BUSTED in a lie about the assasination

    but we should all just “FORGIVE AND IGNORE” musharif’s CRIMINAL CUPABILITY in the MURDER of a political opponent

    nothing to see here folks, move along

    hat tip to Josh over at TPM

    • MadDog says:

      Doesn’t Mushie remind you of someone unfit for Crawford dogcatcher but holds the highest office in the land?

      Do you want a hint? *g*

    • TheraP says:

      See, that’s what they do over there. Remember that scientist who sold nuclear secrets etc. and they just forgave him and that was that. I think he was under house arrest or some sort of thing for a year or so. But… well… no biggie. Forgive and forget.

    • MadDog says:

      I think there were other reports that Langley checked and requested approval for each and every enhancement technique with the political leadership. I took those reports to mean the White House. I’m guessing Deadeye was nodding Shrubble’s head for him.

      • bmaz says:

        Exactly! I remember thinking at the time I read that “They got to have some kind of video feed to be doing that…”.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Insideous. Pathological.
        And consistent with Cheney’s (and Addington’s?) reputation for micro-management.

  32. TheraP says:

    Rayne was wondering who used the word “clinical” about the torture routine.

    I think it was Dana Perino. Anybody else recall? If it was her…. then trace it back… must have come from somebody else originally. Sounds like Yoo? Thus Addington?

    Sorry to be veering off here. My stomach is turning. I hope Rayne gets some sleep tonight. She only slept 3 hours last night… thinking about this torture. I hope we all can sleep.

  33. WilliamOckham says:

    The speculation is racing ahead of the available facts and the available facts are truly horrifying. Here’s what we know:

    The U.S. government made it our official policy to torture presumed terrorists, some of whom were completely innocent. This was no rogue activity or one-off black op. We involved our NATO allies. We established a substantial bureacracy around torture. In many cases, we kidnapped people off the streets of Western Europe, tortured them, and then turned them over to the tender mercies of the Egyptian or Syrian security forces. To bring this back on topic to Pakistan, many of the people who entered our own little Gulag archipelago were sold to us by elements of the Pakistani government. It’s pretty likely that some of the people we tortured were guilty of nothing more than being disliked by one of our “friends” in Pakistan.

  34. kspena says:

    I remember one of the early biographers of this administration telling how Cheney, while at Halliburton, would have a former special ops type employee come to his office once a week and excite him (Cheney) by telling him the same war stories again and again. The storyteller reported this to the author himself with some disdain. The author was someone like Unger, Moore, or Suskind.

  35. masaccio says:

    Take another look @25. Is it possible there is a feed to this troll that actually counts the mentions of Bush and Cheney in the comment stream and alerts the paid trolls?

  36. WilliamOckham says:

    I’m off to bed, but I have two recommendations for the folks here. First, join Scott Horton in his New Year’s resolution. Second, you just have to read Charlie Savage’s book, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

  37. TheraP says:

    Now, just for an example of what some kind of “remote viewing” experience might be, just scroll back through this thread, noticing how some people are commenting on the football games and others on the torture … and then you can imagine how the commentary might have gone between the viewers… sometimes related to the torture and other times comments about things like sports or whatever.

    I am not in any way denigrating the sports comments or humor here today. Far from it. That’s made this all the more bearable. I was just suggesting that the “remote viewing” might … horribly… have not just been focused on the abuse, the torture… but they might have joked or laughed… even at the poor soul alone and bereft of everything and everyone. Might have mocked them… even in the viewing!

  38. bmaz says:

    With due condolences to ctuttle, it would seem we have an answer to the question of whether or not Hawaii deserved to play in a BCS bowl game…

  39. Mary says:

    122 – yep, that’s stuff that is pretty locked in.

    107 – bmaz, I think some of what you remember stemmed from the on air v. print interview.…..ite-house/

    Lauer asked Kiriakou where the permission was given to carry out torture. “Was the White House involved in that decision?” Lauer asked. “Absolutely,” Kiriakou said, adding:

    This isn’t something done willy nilly. It’s not something that an agency officer just wakes up in the morning and decides he’s going to carry out an enhanced technique on a prisoner. This was a policy made at the White House, with concurrence from the National Security Council and Justice Department


    I’ve had three people who are in the midst of Savage’s book really extol it in the last few days – enough to make me want to dig out my Barnes and Nobles coupon.

    I’m also going to add in my own recommendation – along a completely differenct track though, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and ??

    • bmaz says:

      Yep. That is a lot closer to what I was talking about. If they were really making minute discriminatory decisions on timing and level/modality enhancement in effectively real time from Langely, I really don’t see how it could be done without a video feed of some type. It would be insane to be making such determinations without visual cues and evidence. Of course insane is exactly what the Cheneyistas are, so who knows…

  40. 4jkb4ia says:

    (That was in reference to freepatriot at 72. Kansas going to a BCS game and not Mizzou was never really fair, but I am more worked up about it after today.)

    • bmaz says:

      Have you seen USC’s stable of young running backs, not to mention their defense, much of which is returning? All they have to do is plug in the next Heisman quality quarterback in the line and they will be right back at it. I have a suspicion that Florida will be stronger next year than they were this years also; but have to admit, Oklahoma looks to be scary and, unlike this year, i don’t think anybody in the Big 12 will challenge them.

  41. 4jkb4ia says:

    It appears clear that Musharraf/Pakistani security forces let this assassination happen. It appears less clear that Musharraf/Pakistani security forces are less than reliable from the POV of fighting terrorism because that is the way Dick Cheney wants it. Bush/Cheney may simply be drawn to dictators who can appear friendly.

  42. 4jkb4ia says:

    bmaz: If I remember correctly, Missouri is giving up very few seniors as well. Since Oklahoma was the only team to beat them this year, beating Oklahoma is a BCS ticket.
    Oklahoma should contend for the national championship again. They are the team this year who got left out because someone had to be.

  43. GrandmaJ says:

    Caveat: I am out of my league in diciphering Pakistan policy but I always read what all of you say, because it makes so much sense. And naturally more information than my TV news or newspaper. Thanks Emptywheel.

    My thought about why Bhutto did go back to Pakistan is the same as any other politician. Something was promised her (besides the elusive and probably fabulty idea of power sharing hahahahah) and given her family’s penchant for corruption, I assume it was money of some sort. It is the same reason I believe countries and people around the world have agreed from time to time to help Bush. Money/power/access to power was offered by Cheney. Who else has the power to offer anything?

    Bhutto just could not resist the offer and being back in the spotlight, all the while feeling that she could possibly help. And I bet the promises to her and her people were that they (Rice’s crew) would give her everything she needed to be safe and for elections to go forward. She wanted to believe – against all odds — that they would keep her safe.

    Anyone in the world that believe Bush and Cheney would keep their word fter the last 7 years needs to have a pych eval or drug testing. IMO

    Thanks for the comments. I read here everyday now.

  44. skdadl says:

    Democracy Now: Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez’s interview last week with Tariq Ali and Manan Ahmed, both of whom shed a lot of light on Pakistani politics and history. From Tariq Ali, eg:

    And Bhutto, from his death cell, wrote a very moving document called “If I Am Assassinated,” in which he said there are two hegemonies—these are his words. He said, “There are two hegemonies that dominate our country. One is an internal hegemony, and the other is an external hegemony. And unless we challenge the external hegemony, we will never be able to deal with the internal one,” meaning Washington is the external hegemony and the army is the internal one. And this is a problem which still haunts Pakistan and which, I have to say, has now created this new crisis.

    And unfortunately, his daughter decided to collaborate with both of these hegemonies. One has to say this. Her second period in office was a total disaster, because not only did she do nothing for the poor or her natural constituency, but basically it became an extremely corrupt government, and she and her husband accumulated $1.5 billion through corruption. This is well known to everyone.

    Now, when the United States decided they wanted to put her back in there, they told her, we are going to whitewash you so clean no one will even know. And this is what the global media and networks have been doing. Look, I knew her well. I’m very upset that she’s dead. But the piety being displayed on the global media networks is beyond belief. You know, it’s as if there’s no past, no history in this country or its politicians.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, we’re going to hear that a lot, about how corrupt the Bhuttos have been.

      But I’ll point to two examples of political figures about whom the perspective of the public has changed considerably over time:

      Bill Clinton.

      Jimmy Carter.

      Granted, one of them has done an enormous amount of good over a long period of time that redeemed their public image, and neither of them are corrupt in a third-world sense of the word. But look at Clinton, and how much of his image has been improved solely by comparison with his successor in office; how would he be received if he were able to return to office today, or even if he were able to replace Dick Cheney and have some impact on shaping our government through the remainder of the term? Would many on the right be more relaxed (aside from the religious right), knowing that he was sharing power but unable to have it all?

      And what would the world think about such an arrangement, in theory?

      I don’t think it’s just a matter of the media white-washing Bhutto. Pakistan has it’s own media, and I’m sure the public there are able to read through the crap; they’ve lived in a more intensely authoritarian culture than we have, for longer. There’s a reason they were supporting her besides the white-wash; remember Hamas got elected in Palestine, too, and no small part of that was a need to send a message.

      • TheraP says:

        Just posted the link to “clinical” re the tapes/torture over on the “Torture Palace” thread. (from Newsweek, Isakoff and Hosenball article). The quote and link are there.

      • skdadl says:

        I don’t disagree, Rayne. We do have to live with ambiguities and ambivalences just as you describe. And some things (the Bush administration, eg) patently obviously are worse than any alternative.

        I hate thinking that way, though. The older I get, the more I resist (and I’m getting old).

  45. TheraP says:

    Related Topic:

    I’ve been thinking about where the assassination occurred and some of the events. Rawalpindi. City controlled by the military and intelligence services. A place that could have protected her, presumably, didn’t. That we know.

    Here’s what curious. In that same city, first the doctors are shoved aside and a “cover story” is fabricated for how she died. I can’t recall if the video surfaced first or if the doctors began telling the truth. However what fascinates me is the doctors speaking out. It seemed as if they were afraid to say much, but on the other hand felt compelled to speak.

    I’m just wondering what that means, in the context of this military/intelligence city where all of this is occurring. Does it spell some kind of internal conflict within or between the military/intelligence hierarchy? Or is the doctors’ courage in speaking out something like the lawyers who protested when they changed the Supreme Court?

    So, I’m just wondering if the middle class somehow feels another need to speak truth to power? Or are the powers themselves in conflict?

    So… just some musing for the morning.

  46. Rayne says:

    Laura Rozen’s post from Monday does a nice job, simply relaying a perspective closer to that part of the world.

    As Americans, we don’t get it, but we probably should. I think an easy, close example is Tom DeLay. How the hell does someone that corrupt get elected, and multiple times? Why are people still willing to give him the time of day? Or Newt Gingrich — a womanizer and all-round callous pain-in-the-ass — how does he still hold sway with a big chunk of the U.S.?

  47. TheraP says:

    Off Topic:

    If Rayne shows up here, I have posted info on history of “clinical” in the Torture Palace Thread. (it includes words like ER…. meaning Emergency Room.. and it is beyond belief… or logic or both)

    Honestly, for people trying to set up a dictatorship, sometimes these bozos were truly “reaching” for logic! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  48. Mary says:

    127 – Go back and read about the military “interrogation” of the Iraqi General who was, for days, beaten and abused and ‘interrogated,’ mostly at night by one group (allegedly by CIA with some terrorist friends of theirs) while in military custody. Then the military crew would get going with their interrogation, invovling stuffing the general in a sleeping bag, suffocating him repeatedly, binding him, bouncing up and down on him, etc. until he died during that torture (and the soldier who inflicted it was given a 60 day green zone detention IIRC)

    In any event, before one of the suffocation sessions, perhaps the last one, the testimony described how one guy was asked if he wanted to participate and his response was along the lines of , sure – but wait a minute while I go get a fresh cup of coffee (to sip on while we torture a guy to death). Duty, honor, country, starbucks, suffocation.

    • TheraP says:

      IMNL, but it appears to me that this “whole house of cards” is balanced on toothpicks!

      There seems to be no way you could agree with the basics. And from there it’s all downhill.

      I read what you suggested. And I’m not exactly seeing this “clinical process” they used for the HVDs. But I do see that they did call for a medical eval. And likely the ER would have had to treat the person, except he was dead.

      Mary, your tenacity here is commendable.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Keep Starbuck’s out of it, please. Just b/c the guy wanted coffe should NOT implicate Starbucks.

      I know what you meant, but let’s be clear that it had nothing whatsoever to do with any specific, US based coffee company. A company that is a fine employer, provides medical, and offers cheap places for people to meet and visit.

      Hope you understand that I don’t want some random reader to wrongly associate a coffee company with evil. Just sayin’.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Too funny
          If my name were Howard (Schultz), I wouldn’t be sitting on the computer at 6:40 pm still finishing up odds and ends, with another couple hours still to go… I might be paying someone ELSE to sit on the computer at 6:40 pm…

          But Starbuck’s funded some great park enhancements to a park that is very dear to my heart, and Starbucks provides medical benefits (even to many P/T employees). Yet, they’re basically being undercut by Wal-Mart and every other big box outfit that doesn’t give their employees medical — every single hour of every single day. What bullshit!

          Starbucks can attract good employees b/c they treat them well, but they shouldn’t have to compete against Wal-Mart while we all subsidize uninsured workers (!). Starbucks may not be perfect, but there’s no evidence that they have ever pulled the kind of offshore tax-evasion sh*t that asshats like Enron and ExxonMobil have exceled in.

          So no, I’m not Howard.
          But I think we need to support the businesses that TRY to be socially responsible. Lord knows, Howard makes more money than I think is sane, but he still spreads a lot of wealth around — and with the new Sustainable Coffees, improved focus on environmentally responsible business practices (woohoo!!).

          FWIW– I have John Edwards on in another window; my God, that man is refreshing! Calling bullshit on the tax and corporate policies of this nation — jeezuz, he must give Wall Street the heebie jeebies. You and I have discussed some of his themes in the past; you may want to go check him out online — it’ll lift your spirits.

  49. Mary says:

    158 – miscommunication. My 157 was focused on the comment about the speculation of whether or not there was remote viewing and whether if there was, people were talking about sports and things like that as well or even mocking the circumstances of the detainee.

    Re: the “clinical” aspect, I left a post back on the torture palace thread, but I would think that a lot of what they are talking about is that the tapes showed lots of measurement and, detached from the infliction of what was happening, all the elements of human experimentation.

    Some of the reports that have crept out, about how many seconds someone held out on waterboarding, how low heart rates dropped, etc. indicates that you had clinical teams sticking in anal thermometers during hypothermia and otherwise measuring core temperatures, and taking pulse and respirations during sleep deprivation and measuring the extent of limb edema after prolonged stress positions and being your basic Mengeles.

    In addion to the torture, it would be a very creepy thing for most people (most people aren’t even comfortable watching the real process at a slaughterhouse) to watch torture – and then people clincally measuring the effects and extent of their torture as they conduct it. Inhumane (torture)coupled with Inhuman (clinically measuring the physiological effects of the torture).

  50. Mary says:

    Link further to 157…..GQ2701.DTL

    When Welshofer invited Williams to be part of the eventually fatal interrogation of Mowhoush, Williams agreed, but said he had to get a cup of coffee first. Williams went for a second cup of Joe as Welshofer lowered the sleeping bag over Mowhoush’s head.

    It was, apparently, no big thing.

    • TheraP says:

      Thanks for 159 and 160. This reminds me of a case in Colorado, where therapists were sued when doing some kind of weird therapy and the kid, rolled up in a blanket or rug, died. I can’t recall the judicial outcome, but seems to me there could be relevant info in that case.

      I’ll read what you’ve posted. And the links.

      My reply was really more related to what I’ve been thinking about re Rayne’s focus on the word “clinical.” But I think this is all part of the same ball of wax.

      Your presence here is invaluable.

  51. mainsailset says:

    There’s a chapter in the book Exodus where description of the doctors doing their R&D on the Jews in the camps comes to mind.

  52. Hmmm says:

    BlueStateRedHead @ 152 – Sorry for my excessive use of shorthand. ER = Establishment Republicans, as skdadl explains @ 154.

    TheraP @ 156 – See above, I didn’t mean Emergency Room – sorry for confusing you.

  53. bmaz says:

    I agree about Schultz and Starbucks in that regard. Must be something in the air up there in Washington, because another company that has a good history in that regard is Costco under both Price and Sinegal also is from there.

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