Is Dick Playing Games with Pakistan’s Election?

McClatchy is off to a running start in the new year–reporting that Benazir Bhutto was about to hand over to Arlen Specter and Patrick Kennedy evidence of an ISI plan to steal this next month’s election in Pakistan.

The day she was assassinated last Thursday, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in rigging the country’s upcoming elections, an aide said Monday.

Bhutto had been due to meet U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency was planning to fix the polls in the favor of President Pervez Musharraf.

Safraz Khan Lashari, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party election monitoring unit, said the report was "very sensitive" and that the party wanted to initially share it with trusted American politicians rather than the Bush administration, which is seen here as strongly backing Musharraf. [my emphasis]

Given Bhutto’s apparent worries about handing over evidence to the Bush Administration, I couldn’t help but think of this story.

Current and past U.S. officials tell me that Pakistan policy is essentially being run from Cheney’s office. The vice president, they say, is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him. This all fits; in recent months, I’m told, Pakistani opposition politicians visiting Washington have been ushered in to meet Cheney’s aides, rather than taken to the State Department.

And then add in this bit from McClatchy, that Pakistan was using aid money for its plans to steal the election.

Lashari said the report claimed that U.S. aid money was being used to fix the elections. Ballots stamped in favor of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, which supports Musharraf, were to be produced by the intelligence agencies in about 100 parliamentary constituencies.

"They diverted money from aid activities. We had evidence of where they were spending the money," Lashari said.

And then finally, this bit from Spencer Ackerman.

In fact, however, a considerable amount of the money the U.S. gives to Pakistan is administered not through U.S. agencies or joint U.S.-Pakistani programs. Instead, the U.S. gives Musharraf’s government about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers. Once that money leaves the U.S. Treasury, Musharraf can do with it whatever he wants. He needs only promise in a secret annual meeting that he’ll use it to invest in the Pakistani people. And whatever happens as the result of Rice’s review, few Pakistan watchers expect the cash transfers to end.

It would all be so tidy if it didn’t mean the guys who hit us on 9/11 get closer to owning Pakistan’s nukes with each step Dick makes.

26 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Perhaps it’s a lot easier to hit Iran with a “broken arrow” from Pakistan, than one from the U.S.

    I suspect it’s cheaper, too; the audit trail is certainly a piece of cake.

  2. BlueStateRedHead says:

    EW, Can your next book be about Cheney (and *hint* be as good as the one whose signed copy I am still waiting for?) It is only one step and not a giant once from Scooter Libby. In the mean time, what’s the best thing on him. He is so over the top, that it is easy to sound tinfoilhattish when saying the simplest thing about him.

    Except, a large percentage of the population manages to hate him without reading anything extremely critical. This is OT, but can someone explain how his popularity numbers happened and when? Was it Plame/Libby or shooting friend in face or ….?

  3. joanneleon says:

    Specter’s response:

    “Our foreign policy had relied on her presence as a stabilizing force,” Specter said, emotionally describing her death as “a real, real, real shock.”

    “I knew her personally. . . . She was, as you know, glamorous, beautiful, smart,” he said. “Her loss is a setback. But you have to face what is. And now, without her, we have to regroup.”…..rip_short/

    Then he says this:

    “They were crying and they were sobbing,” Specter said, describing the people there. “It’s a night reminiscent of . . . Robert Kennedy’s assassination.”

    And, oh, he just happens to have a Kennedy with him at the time.

    What the heck is Patrick Kennedy doing there anyway? Why wouldn’t Specter be with his peer, Ted Kennedy?

    Gawd, this smells. I was hoping you’d post something on this story, EW.

    BTW, yesterday Specter and Kennedy were in Syria.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Feature, not a bug. No doubt about it.
      That, plus failure to fund FBI fraud investigators.

      No doubt they learned a fair amount from the ’smart guys’ at Enron. Or vice versa?

  4. mainsailset says:

    It’s not just always the same players, it’s always the same Energy Players. Since the Afghanistan pipeline was due to utilize Pakistan; since US oil companies have had a huge stake in controlling this area; since the players on Cheney’s energy council have been Kissinger, Armitage, Carlyle Group, Haig etc, of course Cheney would be upfront to control that domino that is Pakistan. Remember the meme that Iraq would just be the first country, that US could just keep rolling that Cheney style democracy right through the whole area, well Cheney’s never forgotten.

  5. radiofreewill says:

    OT – chomp, chomp, chomp…the corn and blue can’t score enough today…I see they’re retiring the Big and Slow Offense along with Lloyd today…

  6. JamesJoyce says:

    “Indeed, the Bush administration’s policy of sticking by Musharraf is fast becoming eerily reminiscent of the Carter administration’s policy of sticking by the shah of Iran.”

    Well, in that case we might as well prepare for the envitiable consequences America will suffer if a connection between Bush and Bhutto and Musharraf becomes clear!! The Shah gave rise to the Ayatolla no Mushroomn gives rise to??

  7. MadDog says:

    Unitary Executives are Deadeye’s raison d’être. Gotta have ‘em everywhere.

    Courts and Legislatures are counterproductive to the wielding of power.

    Power wielded by one Unitary Executive hand is the only way to go.

    Mush adores Deadeye and has learned his lessons well. Even to the point of shooting lawyers.

  8. TheraP says:

    Forgive me for this off-topic comment to Rayne in the last thread, but I’m guessing that comment section is now closed.

    Rayne writes @ 84 (previous thread:

    “The whole process of snatching human beings and whisking them away to be tortured has been so freaking detached from humanity”

    In my view that is the whole point. Just like the Nazis or any totalitarian enterprise with top-down control, you set up the “program” with every tiny aspect cataloged as if it’s nothing more than a UPS delivery and processing system (which operates like the military, I might add). Regulations for everything. Word parsing so people become “packages” and torture becomes just things on a list, worded innocuously. Thus, the banality of evil. The numbing boredom of the torture manual. Or the imprisonment manual. Or the rendition procedure. Its the “use of language” to make everything so abstract, divorced from emotion, that the people doing it are like robots performing routine actions on an assembly line. It breaks up each action, each procedure, makes it boring, “palatable” so to speak. And divorces the people doing the rendition and the torture from the humanity of those who are experiencing it.

    I may not be able to track down all the details like some of you, but I can sure put myself into the place of those poor tortured souls… as well as try to see how a control process wants to control not only the prisoners but the people carrying out the imprisonment and torture process. They too become pawns… in the service of the twisted and shocking aims of the war criminals at the top.

    Peace to all pursuing this.
    For me it’s an extension of my work with abused and tortured persons who grew up here in the US. It’s a painful thing to see what humans can do to other humans. Hard to say “Happy New Year” under the circumstances.

    So, Peace.

    • TheraP says:

      Further reflection: this is like the “compartmentalization” you’ve been discussing. Indeed, perhaps the compartmentalization in every sphere of the govt is assisted by keeping people in the dark, giving them their routine tasks to perform, making the bureaucracy part of the Dick-Tatorship’s tactics. Makes me wonder if, when underlings at DoJ could not explain how decisions were made, it wasn’t just lying. They “played their role” and were likely such puppets that they knew little beyond what they were told to do. Like a military campaign, where each little group gets marching orders but doesn’t know the whole strategy, battle plan, etc. That too would make it much harder to untangle all the pieces – whether you’re on the inside or the outside… unless you get the top players… or many, many whistle blowers.

  9. Hugh says:

    Since all elections in Pakistan are corrupt and rigged (much like our own only more so and with more murders), I just can’t get too exercised about a supposed report detailing election fixing in Pakistan. It certainly would not be a reason for assassination. It says something about Pakistan’s stability that at least a half dozen credible suspects can be found without really trying. I doubt that Musharraf was actively involved however. It is much more likely that it was religious extremists. That said religious extremism goes in lots of different directions from the radical madrassas that spawned the recent takeover of the Red Mosque, to the Kashmiri groups, to the Sunni religious gangs in Karachi (who usually reserve their violence to the local Shias), to current and former elements of the ISI, to operatives within Nawaz Sharif’s party, to Taliban and tribal groups, to al Qaeda.

  10. radiofreewill says:

    Bhutto was on-track to win the election in a landslide, and she had the goods on Musharraf and the ISI with the Election Rigging Plot – which would have made Saudi Arabia and the Pashtun tribals (20M) the big losers.

    Musharraf had to be involved in the “Shoot and Bomb” Bhutto Plan – his “Walking Around and Get Out of Town” Money was at stake.


    And now the Saudis are back on top with Sharif. I look for Mushy to move into Nawaz’ old digs in the Kingdom after the ‘election.’

    The Saudis are the Power Players here, not Cheney – and always have been.

    All that’s happened with Bhutto is that Cheney has lost the imaginary Control he thought he had.

  11. wavpeac says:

    Since details are not my thing, I feel at odds commenting. I have great respect for the delicious dissecting that comes out of this site. I guess these are the reasons (without much detail) that I have suspected that Bushco had a hand in this.

    1) Bushco has said one thing and done another in regard to democracy. Their behavior does not support the values of democracy. (elections in the u.s, treatment of people in Iraq, lack of following our own constitution).

    2) Bhutto kept saying that she had no protection and that Musharraf was not protecting her. I do not believe Bushco would be naive about this. They had to have known and they clearly did not publicly pressure Musharraf. They could have taken Bhutto’s concerns that were voiced publicly before she was killed and pressured him. There were no signs that the U.S made this effort.

    3) Bhutto went to two democrats. She did not seek out any republican support which says something to me.

    4) This administration clearly favors the behaviors of power and control as evidenced by their use of torture, tough talk, and threats. They have voiced a serious desire to “control” pakistan. They would pick the leader who is willing to use power and control.

    5) There have been many violent events that Bushco had advanced notice of, but did nothing to prevent. However, they use power and control in Iraq, threats to Iran. They have no problem with using violence to prevent violence. I also think they have no problem with allowing violence instead of “causing” it, if it supports their agenda.

    For these general reasons, I believe Bushco was behind the assasination. Did they do it?? No, but they did nothing to stop it. And may have been actively ‘wink, wink’ nod, nod, supporting musharaff because he demonstrates a form of government that Bushco “believes” in.

  12. Mary says:

    13 – amen to all of that. Even more disturbing, though, is that the people doing it are like robots performing routine actions on an assembly line are all too often men and women who have had some of the nation’s best training and resources poured at them, the best of schools or the best of instruction – – and all that training, education and all those resources explain to them over and over how this happens. And they also all too often have an overlay of “my brother” type camaraderie that allows them to enjoy by enjoying the bonds that the secrecy and power give to them – the ones “in the know” who “have the power.” It’s not just hte abiltiy to perform these are “routine actions” but also to bond over the evil. So that no one will ever “turn” on their “brothers.”

    At that point, they not only do they not use their training and education to prevent themselves from becoming party to evil, but they become active recruiters to that evil and they really take on all the aspects of a gang – with the kinds of “validation” activities that occur in those kinds of social settings. Blood brothers (and sisters) bonding, not over thei blood from their own cuts, but over the blood from their victims. So that no one can denounce the actions without denouncing all their “good patriotic friends” and so even when you pull away from an evil yourself, your first response is to protect your “friends” who helped make sure torture took place, widows were created, children left to die.

    Because even more automatic than the “routine actions” of evil, is the now ingrained response: This Is Not Our Fault.

    • TheraP says:

      So well said. Absolutely correct.

      And then extend it. Because it also fits the idea of these rendition flights and the other countries that allowed them. And then you have leaders of many “free countries” also becoming “blood brothers.”

      It’s horrifying. Simply horrifying.

      I know exactly what you mean about the power of the secrecy. The sense of power in that “secret knowledge.”

      Are we a doomed world, or what?

      • Rayne says:

        This sh*t kept me up; I had difficulty getting any more than 3 hours of sleep because this horror rattled around in my brain all night. Whatever it takes to become so immune to this, it also requires willing eyes, wide shut. The propaganda we’ve heard for years has been directed not just at a passive audience, but to the doers who must have layer after layer of rationalization to keep their eyes so tightly wide shut.

        And then you have leaders of many “free countries” also becoming “blood brothers.”

        I think the blood pact we are looking at is SFOR, with the exception of Asian states and those in the Mid-East/Africa region who are outsourcing third parties. Has never escaped me that Elliott Abrams said a key learning of Iran Contra was that they “cannot rely on friends”; we therefore must rely on those who can be bought (outsourcing entities whether nation/states or contractors), and on those “blood brothers”. In this case, they are already well-exercised, having worked together for years in tracking the terrorist/criminals of Serbia; this WOT extends that relationship beyond the now-forgotten Karadzic.

        • TheraP says:

          The propaganda we’ve heard for years has been directed not just at a passive audience, but to the doers who must have layer after layer of rationalization to keep their eyes so tightly wide shut.

          This is a helpful piece. Yes, it explains better than anything why the nonsense needs to continue – loud and clear. Why the majority of repub candidates also need to continue spouting that. Thanks!

          You have my sympathy regarding the sleep problem. It has taken me the better part of 20 years to get to the point where I can hear about torture and know it’s “there” but keep myself from being pulled into that place of horror. I’ve worked hard to remain “vulnerable” while becoming “stronger.”

          Problem about “buying” your allies. If they are middle east chieftains or dictators, even people like cheney may be over their heads and can be double-crossed. I’m not sure they were counting on Bhutto’s murder… and if via Musharaff (most likely, in my view), they will never let on to that, because it would mean Musharaff is more shrewd/powerful than deadeye. Can’t have that!

          In my view it’s the well-intentioned idealists (fundamentalist or whatever, Monica Goodling, Blaire etc.) who may be most corrupted by the “blood pact” Mary described. In my book the other players, who can be “bought,” are as likely to have other agendas and be playing along temporarily, but ready to double-cross down the road. JMHO here.

  13. wavpeac says:

    Radiofree…yes, yes. Saudi has always been in charge, and I so agree that Cheney (and Bush because of his lifetime family ties) thought they could control Saudi.

  14. quake says:

    Surprised noone’s mentioned the parallel, but it’s reminiscent of the “winked-at” assination of Diem (the South Vietnamese president) in Nov. 1963.

  15. kspena says:

    In my view, I can’t help but repeatedly return to the notion that the Bhutto script was Condi’s plan and that continuing the no-Bhutto script was Cheney’s (with Mushy)plan. Perhaps Cheney foiled Condi’s plan here as he had foiled many others before, as Powell’s efforts in the ME years ago.

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