WASHINGTON — The top two American intelligence officials traveled secretly to Pakistan early this month to press President Pervez Musharraf to allow the Central Intelligence Agency greater latitude to operate in the tribal territories where Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups are all active, according to several officials who have been briefed on the visit.
But in the unannounced meetings on Jan. 9 with the two American officials — Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director — Mr. Musharraf rebuffed proposals to expand any American combat presence in Pakistan, either through unilateral covert C.I.A. missions or by joint operations with Pakistani security forces...
Well, as secret as these bozos can get while announcing the policy to the press.
You have to admit, though, it's a kewl moove by David Addington, who's scooped Scooter's digs while he's in the cooler for Cheney. Unlike the hapless Mr. Libby, he's nowhere in the pic, but everywhere behind the scenes. Handuppets, indeed.
Speaking of handpuppets, digby does an elaboration of clammyc's observations on the developing situation in TaliAfghaniPakistan. Darth Cheneyburton's support of Musharaff is doing a great job of Uniting, all on its own:
Sometime in mid-December, as the winter winds howled across the snow-dusted hills of Pakistan's inhospitable border regions, 40 men representing Taliban groups all across Pakistan's northwest frontier came together to unify under a single banner and to choose a leader.
The banner was Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan, or the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, with a fighting force estimated at up to 40,000. And the leader was Baitullah Mehsud, the man Pakistan accuses of assassinating former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The move is an attempt to present a united front against the Pakistani Army, which has been fighting insurgents along the border with Afghanistan. It is also the latest sign of the rise of Mehsud, considered the deadliest of the Taliban mullahs or clerics in northwest Pakistan.
Mehsud is based in the rugged, heavily treed mountains of South Waziristan, one of Pakistan's so-called tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, where Western intelligence says Al Qaeda is regrouping.
His organization has claimed responsibility, often backed up by videos, for killing and kidnapping hundreds of soldiers, beheading women, and burning schools that teach girls anything other than religion. He also says he has a steady supply of suicide bombers and strong ties to Al Qaeda.
"Al Qaeda has succeeded in building a base in the last two or three years mostly with help from Mehsud," said Ahmed Zaidan, a reporter for Al-Jazeera Television in Qatar who interviewed Mehsud three weeks ago. "They are moving freely in the tribal areas where it is difficult for the Pakistan Army to move..."
Al Qaeda gives Mehsud money and logistical advice, according to one of his Taliban allies, Maulvi Muslim.
The Al Qaeda funds don't always come in cash. Rather, Afghan and Pakistani businessmen, usually in the United Arab Emirates, are given money to buy high-priced goods like cars. The goods are shipped to Pakistan and sold, often tripling Al Qaeda's investment. The businessmen, with sympathies to Al Qaeda, take a small cut while Al Qaeda spreads the wealth among its allies...
Ah, of course, the United Arab Emirates, the new international headquarters of Halliburton. There you have the Kabuki du Jour. This smells like a Company scam, building a new enemy to justify the endless war on terra.