Just yesterday evening, I was debating the extent to which the Pakistani military knew about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts in his Abbottabad safe house with my Fletcher friends, and the degree to which it can be held responsible as an organization.
As with many things at Fletcher, you often discover somewhere down the line that the current debates you have at the school often coincide in weird ways with future developments. Last night, fresh evidence surfaced by the Press Trust of India via a leaked Stratfor email that elements of the military knew about OBL’s whereabouts. Here’s what Fred Burton, the global intelligence firm’s vice president for intelligence, wrote to his company’s regional director for Middle East and South Asia Kamran Bokhari soon after the US commando operation last May:
Mid to senior level ISI and Pak military with one retired Pak Military General that had knowledge of the OBL (Osama bin laden) arrangements and safe house.
There were about less than a dozen people within the ISI and Pakistani military who had information on bin Laden. No word on the specific names or ranks, but apparently that’s information the US had. The Blackberry email goes on:
Names unk (unknown) to me and not provided. Specific ranks unk to me and not provided. But, I get a very clear sense we (US intel) know names and ranks.
Of course, questions of veracity arise since this is an email exposed via Wikileaks. Stratfor’s CEO George Friedman cautioned in a video on the company’s website yesterday that some of the emails may be “forged or altered to include inaccuracies”, such as his supposed resignation letter.
Nonetheless, this is an interesting insight into an important question by influential experts, and could have saved me and my Fletcher friends a few hours of debate.