Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pakistan: Blitzer Scores Coup

Wolf Blitzer scored a coup for CNN when he was selected to read a letter from Benazir Bhutto that was to be made public only after her death. In the letter Bhutto said if she were to be killed the current president Pervez Musharraf should be held accountable for failing to provide her with adequate security, despite an earlier assassination attempt in September.

In the letter, Bhutto said the Pakistani authorites failed to provide her with armored vehicles and devices to jam the detonation of roadside bombs. Other security precautions, like police escorts to political rallies, were inconsistent in their size and effectivness.

The video of Bhutto’s assassination seems to support her claim. At the moment of her attack, Bhutto’s vehicle is surrounded by a large crowd. No uniformed security can be seen, nor do any security agents attempt to intercept the assassin. Given that the assassination attempt against her in September came as an attack on her motorcade, it is hard to believe that such a crowd was allowed to gather around her vehicle.


Just a day after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani officials have said they have proof the attack was ordered and carried out by al-Qaeda.

A transcript of intercepted phone calls has Baitullah Mehsud, a pro-al-Qaeda militia leader from Waziristan (part of the largely uncontrolled border between Pakistan and Afghanistan), congratulating another militia leader on the successful operation. Pakistani officials offered the transcripts as proof of al-Qaeda’s involvment. A spokesman for Mehsud, meanwhile, dismissed the claims as “government propaganda.”

The security forces’ announcement only begs the question: if they could intercept messages and gather information so quickly after her death, then where were they before she was killed? Are we to believe that they had no idea, had intercepted no “chatter” about an assassination attempt, but then in mere hours after the event found proof not only that al-Qaeda was behind the hit, but also identified the individual who arranged it?

It is too neat a picture to be readily believed. And one that already has Bhutto’s supporters pointing to a government conspiracy. Further fueling their beliefs are claims, again from Pakistan’s government, that Bhutto died from striking her head on the sunroof of the SUV she was riding in, not from bullet or shrapnel wounds. This is contrary to the eyewitness accounts of her aides who claim that Bhutto suffered bullet/shrapnel wounds to the neck and chest.

Bhutto's supporters already do not trust Musharraf's government. Putting out information that contradicts eyewitness testimony, or quickly provides culprits in her assassination will do nothing to bring stability to the situation in the country.
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