Allen West and John Boehner Fall Out Over Pakistan
Allen West, writing to the chairwoman of the subcommittee on state, foreign operations, and related programs, CC'ing Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy, Hesarling, Rogers, Ros-Lehtinen, and McKeon:
...It is not unreasonable for the American people to question. If Osama bin Laden was living on government-controlled land, next to a military academy, and so close to the nation's capital. What real assistance was the Pakistan Government providing for the last ten years to locate the al-Qaeda leader and bring him to justice?
Since the September 11th terrorist attack, the United States Government has provided an estimated $20 billion of assistance to the Government of Pakistan. Questions are arising on whether the Government of Pakistan may have aided an abetted this most wanted international terrorist.
I think it is quite clear that unless we get a clear explanation of what the Government of Pakistan knew about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, all foreign aid from American taxpayers to this nation needs to cease. Further, we need to understand if the Government of Pakistan was harboring Osama bin Laden for all these years. Further, did the Government of Pakistan always know where this terrorist was but instead did not want to bring him to justice in order to continue to receive foreign aid from the United States of America.
John Boehner in a conversation with reporters during which he called the United States' relationship with Pakistan "critical":
We both benefit from having a strong bilateral relationship. This is not a time to back away from Pakistan. We need more engagement, not less... [The Pakistanis] have been very helpful. They've lost more troops than we have.
Two possibilities immediately suggest themselves: Either John Boehner knows something about Pakistan that Allen West doesn't or he's being hopelessly lily-livered.
In the case of the former, we should probably cool our jets w/r/t Pakistan. It really is possible that Pakistan's intelligence service had no idea that Osama Bin Laden was living right under their noses. Even with the Pakistani military academy just a thousand yards from Osama's front door, Abbottabad wasn't such a terrible hiding spot -- to my knowledge, our own intelligence services never thought to look for Osama in Highland Falls.
But Allen West seems to grok this possibility, and so far, he's being eminently reasonable. He's not saying we should scrap our aid to Pakistan; he's saying that we should continue to offer it if the Pakistanis have a good explanation for their failure to catch Bin Laden. Which is sane. West knows, as Boehner should know, that in negotiations, it is unwise to lead with your very best offer. A nervous Pakistan is far, far better than a Pakistan that thinks itself untouchable.
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