Thursday, April 10, 2003

Dealing with the devil, or a dark alley political lie So another surprise befell me when I viewed an interview with Seymour Hersh, a journalist, and heard that the president of Pakistan, Musharef, made a deal with the U.S. administration to evacuate al-Qaida fighters along with Pakistani generals who were in Afghanistan to train Taliban warriors. According to Hersh, a well-respected reporter, for three days during the battle in Afghanistan, U.S. troops were told to stand down when it had surrounded about 8,000-plus al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in a little town near the Pakistan border. An air corridor was declared off limits for U.S. fighters pilots and the evacuation took place with full knowledge of the Bush White House.
What is going on? Well, it's the old adage of dealing with the devil you know as opposed to the devil you don't know. Musharef needed credibility among his supporters and detractors in the Middle East and the only way he could guarantee his position as president was to show he could manipulate the United States and come through for those terrorists and despotic criminals who asked him for help.
Apparently Bush decided that allowing at least 8,000 Taliban and al-Qaida fighters to escape a sure death was preferable to the Pakistani president being deposed. Why? Because, Hersh said, ties between the U.S. and Pakistan are being nurtured for the long-term fight on terrorism. But the logic escapes me. What if Osama bin Laden was among those evacuated? What kind of policy is it that, on the one hand declares a terrorist our No. 1 enemy but on the other hand allows him to escape certain capture or death?
Point of fact: No one in the administration disputed Hersh's report. No one claimed his facts were fallacious. The best the administration could muster was a "Huh?" from Rumsfeld, who claimed he was unaware of any such deal. But military records show that the report matches orders from on high to leave open an air corridor for three days in and out of that little town in northern Afghanistan that, at the time, was surrounded by U.S. Marines and special forces fighters. Is it really better to deal with the devil you know than one you don't? I propose that it's bad policy for America to protect terrorists who, at some later date, may kill U.S. citizens in the name of a bizarre, blurry political agenda.
And so it goes.
Keep watching, listening and learning.


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