Archive for Friday, December 2, 2011

Pakistan says U.S. gave wrong info before strike that killed 24 soldiers

December 2, 2011

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— U.S. officials gave Pakistan soldiers the wrong location when asking for clearance to attack militants along the border last weekend, Pakistani military officials said Friday. The strike resulted in the deaths of 24 soldiers and a major crisis in relations between Washington and Islamabad.

The claim was the latest in a series by mostly anonymous officials in both countries, which try to explain what happened before and during last Saturday's bombing of two Pakistani border checkpoints by U.S. aircraft.

NATO and America have expressed regret for the loss of lives, but have rejected Pakistani descriptions of the incident as a deliberate act of aggression.

The incident has pushed already strained ties between Washington and Islamabad close to rupture, complicating American hopes of securing Pakistan's help in negotiating an end to the Afghan war. In retaliation for the raid, Islamabad has already closed its eastern border to NATO supplies traveling into landlocked Afghanistan.

Thousands of Islamist extremists and other demonstrators took to the streets across the country after Friday prayers to protest the strike. Some called on the army to attack the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. The chants were a worrying sign for the West, indicating that anger over the incident is uniting hard-liners and the military.

U.S. officials have told The Associated Press that Saturday's incident occurred when a joint U.S. and Afghan patrol requested backup after being hit by mortar and small arms fire by Taliban militants.

Before responding, the patrol first checked with the Pakistani army, which reported it had no troops in the area, they said.

U.S. officials say that Pakistani troops had "given the go-ahead" for the strikes, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. This account would suggest that the Pakistanis were at least partly to blame for the deadly error.

A Pakistani military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information confirmed that the American had provided his side with a location for the planned strike.

However, he said, the information arrived late, Pakistan never cleared the strike, and the coordinates provided were incorrect anyway.

"Wrong information about (the) area of operation was provided to Pakistani officials a few minutes before the strike," he said. "Without getting clearance from Pakistan side, the post had already been engaged by U.S. helicopters and fighter jets."

He said that U.S. officials at the border coordination center, where the two sides liaise over operations close to the frontier, had later "apologized privately to Pakistani officials for initially providing wrong information and the subsequent engagement of the post without prior information."

The U.S. and NATO have both launched investigations. Only when investigators have spoken to people on both sides of the border will they be able to describe the full version of events.

This assumes that the two sides can work together. The ongoing anonymous back-and-forth claims and denials by officials on both sides appear to reflect bad blood between them.

Washington has not formally apologized, saying it would not be appropriate before an investigation into the incident is complete.

Anti-American demonstrations took place around Pakistan on Friday, including a 2,000-strong rally in the country's commercial hub of Karachi by the Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba group. The group is banned because of its ties to al-Qaida, but that ban is largely ignored.

Aurangezeb Farooqi, a leader of the group, asked the protesters whether they were ready to join the army to fight Americans. Many raised their fists in response and shouted "God is great!". Some held up placards saying: "There is only one treatment for America: jihad, jihad," or holy war.

Washington believes that Islamabad's cooperation is vital to negotiate a truce with Afghan insurgent leaders based on Pakistani soil, so that the U.S. can withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

But Islamabad has its own interests, chiefly in ensuring that whatever regime remains in Kabul after U.S. forces withdraw is friendly to Pakistan, and hostile to India. Consequently, Pakistan appears to be in no rush to take political risks helping the United States.


Associated Press writer Ashraf Khan in Karachi contributed to this report.

Comments

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

GLENN GREENWALD:

Well, this is what’s so amazing to me. If you look back at what the Congress did in the wake of 9/11 when it enacted the authorization to use military force, if you look at that authorization, it’s incredibly narrow, as it turns out.

If you go and actually read it, it says the President is authorized to use military force against those who perpetrated the 9/11 attack and those countries who harbored those individuals. That’s it, that’s the only authorized use of military force.

Well, here we are more than a decade later, and there was an article in The Washington Post from a week ago where U.S. officials anonymously are saying that, in essence, Al Qaeda, the group that perpetrated the 9/11 attack according to the government, is now dead.

There’s only two leaders left they say in that entire region. It already rendered "effectively inoperable". There is no more Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan or Pakistan according to the U.S. government.

The group that perpetrated 9/11, according to it is no longer even existing. And yet, here we are engaged in extraordinarily broad military efforts, constantly escalating in numerous parts of the world.

There’s six different countries in which the U.S. is actively using drones; in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, against groups that didn’t even exist at the time that 9/11 was perpetrated.

And constantly, what you find is we are killing all sorts of civilians. There was just a story, a horrible story from four days ago where a U.S. air-strike in Afghanistan slaughtered an entire family of children, six children between the ages of 4 and 12.

What we’re doing in essence is not only going way beyond what we were supposed to be doing when the Congress authorized military force, but what we’re really doing is we’re constantly manufacturing the causes of our war.

Everywhere we go, every time we kill Pakistani troops or kill children in Yemen or in Afghanistan, we’re generating more and more anti-American sentiment and violence, and therefore, guaranteeing we will always have more people to fight

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

This entire post assumes that the Washington Post's analysis that al Qaeda is dead is a correct assessment. I assumed that the government of the United States, led by the President, was the appropriate source for that type of analysis. The Post's analysis is opinion and may or may not be correct.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

Are Americans in Line for Gitmo?

Though the 9/11 attacks occurred more than a decade ago, Congress continues to exploit them to pass evermore draconian laws on “terrorism,” with the Senate now empowering the military to arrest people on U.S. soil and hold them without trial, a serious threat to American liberties

by Ray McGovern ( former CIA Specialist)

Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the “extraordinary measures” introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.

And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, “With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater.”

The writer was Sebastian Haffner (real name Raimond Pretzel), a young German lawyer worried at what he saw in 1933 in Berlin, but helpless to stop it since, as he put it, the German people “collectively and limply collapsed, yielded and capitulated.”

“The result of this millionfold nervous breakdown,” wrote Haffner at the time, “is the unified nation, ready for anything, that is today the nightmare of the rest of the world.” Not a happy analogy.

The Senate bill, in effect, revokes an 1878 law known as the Posse Comitatus Act, which banned the Army from domestic law enforcement after the military had been used —and often abused — in that role during Reconstruction.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/04-0

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