Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’

Obama’s Bush Adminstration Holdover: The 9/14/01 Use of Force Doctrine

Posted by K.E. White on April 24, 2010

Reason. com points out that the Obama administration keeps one important—and perhaps troubling—holdover from the Bush administration:  the same, expansive legal framework to combat terrorism.   uses the same legal framework.  Read the 9/14/2001 resolution here.

From Reason.com:

But these differences in style mask a sameness in substance that should worry civil libertarians. When it comes to the legal framework for confronting terrorism, President Obama is acting in no meaningful sense any different than President Bush after 2006, when the Supreme Court overturned the view that the president’s war time powers were effectively unlimited. As the Obama administration itself is quick to point out, the Bush administration also tried terrorists apprehended on U.S. soil in criminal courts, most notably “20th hijacker” Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. More important, President Obama has embraced and at times defended the same expansive view of a global war against Al Qaeda as President Bush.

The U.S. still reserves the right to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely without charge, try them via military tribunal, keep them imprisoned even if they are acquitted, and kill them in foreign countries with which America is not formally at war (including Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan). When Obama closed the secret CIA prisons known as “black sites,” he specifically allowed for temporary detention facilities where a suspect could be taken before being sent to a foreign or domestic prison, a practice known as “rendition.” And even where the Obama White House has made a show of how it has broken with the Bush administration, such as outlawing enhanced interrogation techniques, it has done so through executive order, which can be reversed at any time by the sitting president.

Above all, we must be honest with ourselves. Obama, like Bush, is committed to a long war against an amorphous network of terrorists. In at least the constitutional sense, he is no harder or softer than his predecessor. And like his predecessor, he has not come up with a plan for relinquishing these extraordinary powers once the long war ends, if it ever does. If change is going to come to U.S. policy on terrorism, it will have to come from a bipartisan recognition that Americans cannot trust their government to tell them when they are safe again.

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Posted in Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blog-On-Blog: Accessing Jennifer Rubin’s Charge that Obama Triangulates U.S. National Security

Posted by K.E. White on May 22, 2009

At Contentions Jennifer Rubin sifts through the aftermath of yesterday’s Obama-Cheney duel. She takes a firm line: accusing President Obama of a “triangulation game on national security” and being a “president who seems intent on getting the politics right and worrying about the policy later.”

Her specific charge? Obama seeks good politics and not good policy when calling for the end of advanced interrogation techniques and the GITMO closure. These decisions fall into Obama’s ovreall governing strategy, which Rubin describes as: “…to soothe all parties and charm even the most virulent foes of the United States has been Obama’s lifelong modus operand.”

This article will contend the following: First, Rubin fails to show evidence of actual triangulation, only that Obama is discussing security policies that she does not agree with at a time of conflicted public and partisan opinion. Second, she confuses the tools used to advance national security (e.g. what do we do with terrorists suspected of threatening America once detained) with national security priorities (e.g. how America should effectively beat back the terrorist threat).

First, her portrayal of Obama as bargaining between two extremes—hawks and doves in Congress and the public—flys in the face of commonsense, not to mention the substance of Obama’s address yesterday. When Obama evoked the ‘middle’ in yesterday’s speech he was not discussing how he chooses national security priorities, but how transparent and checked executive decisions on national security should be. (While this is a related matter, it is not tantamount to stating: ‘Well some people like GITMO, others don’t—so let’s just move it to Montana and ban torture to whip up libreal support!’) Obama’s positions presupposed the judgement that advanced interrogation techniques and GITMO’s continued operation harm American security. Accessing these decisions is separate from evoking them as triangulation.

By blurring the tools used to obtain national security with actual policies—which, admittedly, can overlap—Rubin is guilty of begging the question. She overlooks this glaring weakness with the Cheney position: the policies instituted by the Bush White House were of questionable effectiveness, controversial at home and grounded on dubious legal reasoning.

It is unquestionable that GITMO, whatever its merits, hurt America’s image around the world. Why then is Rubin so quick to portray Obama’s move to close GITMO as simply a gimmick to get Left-leaning support on other issues? By dodging the issue of whether or not moving detainees from GITMO to a Super-Max prison has any impact on American security, this implication rests on unstated, if not flimsy, assumptions.

Having an unclear standard by which to hold onto detainees has clear dangers. So why when Obama outlines his desire to codify in law their continued detention–even if thise means indefinite detention without recourse to a federal or military court–does Rubin imply this as a cynical attempt at assuaging the Right? This has particular resonance when contrasted with the ad hoc and hasty basis by which the Bush White House released past detainees.

It’s easy to see where Rubin goes wrong within her own post: she uses another writer’s perception that Obama is appealing to a fractured middle ground between doves and hawks that may or may not support them as as proof that Obama has politicized/triangulated national security policy. But even that speculation, if right, fails to prove triangulation. Proving triangulation requires showing incoherent or ineffective policy coming out of the White House in response to opinion polls.

Now, admittedly, I have set a high bar. But it seems next to impossible  to even suggest this in regards to current Obama administration national security actions. Yes, decisions on whether or not to prosecute Bush administration officials and releasing certain detainee photographs have changed. But those changes do not seem the result of public or partisan pressure. They seemed, whether right or wrong, rooted within an evolving sense of what constituted the national interest. While this process can be messy, it’s understandable on issues where there is no readily apparent ‘correct’ course of action.

Furthermore, Bush White House terror prosecutions and detainee photographs do not repreesnt the core of yesterday’s Cheney-Obama debate. The main issues at play are: 1) where to treat and place current and future terror detainees and 2) whether or not to use advanced interrogation techniques on suspected or known terrorists.

On these two issues any charge of triangulation fails. (Note: by triangulation I mean creating policy out of incoherent or contradictory positions to manufacture a public mandate.) Obama started his administration by bucking against political pressure and an unsure public will in ordering the shutdown of GITMO, the cessation of advanced interrogation methods, and the designing of transparent system of detention and prosecution. In yesterday’s speech, after weeks of criticism by the Right and the failure to obtain Congressional funds to close GITMO, what did Obama do? He stuck to his guns.

This suggests a President more interested in forging a sound national security policy than worrying whether or not it is popular to stop certain tools to deliver that end (i.e. certain interrogation techniques and detainee transfers out of GITMO).

Yes, these policies require politics. Closing GITMO requires votes in Congress; ending torture policies demands a President who shows the public why this change is justified; and reconstituting military tribunals and maintaining long-term detentions require congressional action. In no way do these actions prove Rubin’s charge of “triangulation”.

But it’s hard to argue with Rubin on substance. Nowhere in Rubin’s posting is discussion over what makes up the current “national security debate” she considers so important. (I am left to assume this debate expands to detention policies, torture policies and GITMO policies, and not, for example, the US-UAE nuclear deal or current AfPak policy). By failing discuss these policies Rubin (whether by choice or shoddy rhetoric) fails to show whether or not Obama-desired policies help or hinder American security. Hence, Rubin cannot offer a set of policies Obama ‘should’ pursue but has abandoned in order to secure public approval.

But the above assumes Rubin’s post to be a reasoned and dispassionate critique of the Obama administration. Rubin’s final paragraph squashes any such illusion. There she compares Obama’s discussion and desired reform of Bush-era detention and interrogation techniques with the hypothetical case of a President going into war to quell domestic critics. This, on its face, stands as a grossly false comparison. And it only highlights Rubin’s refusal to engage in actual discussion–not to mention here comfort in passing flawed logic off as refined argument.

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Pakistan: Is Engineering Civic Engagement Needed To Ensure Effective U.S. Military and Humanitarian Aid?

Posted by K.E. White on May 20, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s description of US policy toward Pakistan as “incoherent” caught US airwaves for its frankness–or, perhaps to some, apologist tone. But more importantly, Clinton’s press conference highlights a much tougher question: how does America make a coherent policy towards Pakistan?

Right now the stakes in Pakistan are high, but the mission is clear: help Pakistan’s civilian government beat back the extremist threat and, in so doing, strengthen liberal rule in the country and route dangerous terrorist groups that promise to make mayhem for Pakistan, Afghanistan and, ultimately, the United States.

But completing that is another matter all together. As Clinton laid out in yesterday’s press conference, the United States is increasing aid to Pakistan by $110 million—and reaching out to citizens to make additional $5 pledges via text messages. Here’s the breakdown and how the aid will reach Pakistan:

Despite her warmer words for Pakistan’s government, Mrs. Clinton said little of this aid would flow directly to the Pakistani authorities. Most of it will flow to the United Nations and other international aid organizations. Pakistan has been criticized in the past for squandering American assistance.

The latest influx of aid comes on top of $60 million in humanitarian aid that the United States has sent to Pakistan since last August, and $400 million the administration has requested from Congress to improve the counterinsurgency abilities of the Pakistani military.

While the bulk of the $100 million is coming from the State Department — channeled mainly through the Agency for International Development — the Pentagon will contribute $10 million for water trucks, food and large tents equipped with air-conditioning.

Mrs. Clinton emphasized that $26 million of the package was designated to buy grain from Pakistani farmers, which she said would take advantage of the country’s bumper grain crop this year.

Setting aside the important question whether or not this aid channels successfully to Pakistan, Rick Barton argues that without a mobilized Pakistani public committed against the Taliban no amount of is US military hard power and aid will turn the tide. How can the US assist in keeping the Pakistani public—which has already proven its civic force—mobilized to ensure effective civilian rule in Pakistan? Barton calls for American funding of locally controlled TV and radio stations to broadcast the barbarism of the Taliban and ensure continuous responsiveness of the Pakistani government to its citizens.

Now what Barton actually calls for verses current US efforts at ‘public diplomacy’ requires more digging. This CFR publication reviews current efforts at ‘public diplomacy’ in Afghanistan, illustrating that these operations are comprised of US military-run radio stations in Afghanistan. These stations report news, primarily US military operational updates, to locals before the Taliban can disseminate their own message of US humanitarian misdeeds.

Barton argues for greater scope of such efforts into television and radio, local control of content and less emphasis on American military news-updates. Rather these programs should empower locales to bring attention to social ills and examples of good governance.

Such a shift would see ‘public diplomacy’ shift from a focus on beating back extremist propaganda to  providing an independent avenue for public discourse and mobilization.

Starting such a public diplomacy program in Pakistan has risks.  First, will US funds inadvertently go towards anti-American messaging, entertainment programming of little worth or—most alarmingly—into jihadist controlled stations?

But Barton’s provocative idea has its virtues. Showing images of heinous terrorist acts and allowing Pakistanis to push for responsible governance could go a long way in keeping the Pakistani regime responsive to and credible in the eyes of its citzens.

Yet, there are greater dangers than misspent American funds. Stirring the pot of public mobilization can freeze a regime’s forward motion: fanning legitimate public grievances could place unrealistic demands on a regime making real, if slow, forward motion towards effective governance. End-result: A poor, but improving, regime is rejected and replaced with crippled regime.

In any case, the United States must craft a workable, and not simply a military-run propagandist approach to public diplomacy in Pakistan. As Jeanne Bourgault points out in her article Radio a Sound Salvation for Pakistan?:

One recent survey in the area found that “many of the listeners who tune in to militant or mullah-run stations do so largely out of boredom and for want of a better alternative.” By training journalists and helping to set up new radio stations, America and Pakistan can offer this alternative. Supporting local, independent media is a cheap but effective weapon against instability and terror.

From Bourgault one can glean a less ambitious, but perhaps more attainable public diplomacy approach than offered by Barton. Barton’s prescription to instill large-scale mobilization of the Pakistani public must overcome two significant hurdles. First, will not hard-power attained security permit Pakistanis, themselves, to extend their already existing social networks?  And does not such a hard-power success depend on diplomatic and miliatary coordination between the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan, not to mention agressive counter-insurgency operations in Pakistan more than additional radio stations?

Second, how does one measure the various variable that make-up large-scale social mobilization? The Pakistani public seems very engaged with its regimes current difficulties. Would American aid really produce civic engagement—or merely free-ride on the work of existing Pakistani social networks?

Expanding US jamming operations of extremist media outlets makes sense. And constructing US-controlled radio stations with local staffs that pump out ‘soft propaganda’—exposés on the value of American aid and extremist atrocities—could improve the perception of the United States to Pakistan’s inhabitants. Those two steps are practical steps forward in combatting the Af-Pak terrorist threat; and, furthermore, are preconditions to accessing the value of Barton’s more expansive public diplomacy prescription.

Posted in Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obama On Pakistan: “[W]e need to help Pakistan help Pakistanis”

Posted by K.E. White on April 29, 2009

President Barack Obama just fielded Chuck Todd’s presidential press conference question on Pakistan, and whether or not America could secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal if that government falls. Obama dimisses suggestions that the civilian government is teetering on collapse, and considers Pakistan reacting appropriately (however late) to the terrorist threat in Buner. He highlights America’s commitment to assist Pakistani civilian government to deliver basic services to Pakistanis, and the Pakistani army’s recognition that armed extremists–not India–represent the greatest danger to Pakistan. 

Obama’s full response–minus a small follow-up where he refuses to answer hypotheticals involving Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal:

I’m confident that we can make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure. Primarily, initially because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands. We have strong military to military consultation and cooperation. I am gravely concerned of the situation in Pakistan not because I think they are going to be immediately overrun and the Taliban will take over in Pakistan. [But] more concerned that the civilian government there right now is very fragile, and don’t seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services, school, health care, rule of law—a judicial system that works for the majority of people. So as a consequence, it is very hard for them to gain the support and the loyalty of their people.

So we need to help Pakistan help Pakistanis. And I think that there’s a recognition increasingly on both the part of the civilian government there and army that that is their biggest weakness. On the military side you’re starting to see some recognition just the last few days that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally. And you’re starting to see the Pakistani military take much more seriously the armed threat from militant extremists. We want to continue to encourage Pakistan to move in that direction. And we will provide them all the cooperation that we can. We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.

I feel confident that that nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands.

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Michael Krepon & Shuja Nawaz discuss India-Pakistan Relations After Last Week’s Terrorist Attacks on PBS

Posted by K.E. White on December 2, 2008

Below is the transcript from tonight’s NewsHour discussion of India-Pakistan relations days after the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, and Shuja Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within, offer a refreshingly nuanced discussion about the challenges facing Pakistan, India and America after last week’s deadly events. Ray Suarez moderates the discussion.

One can listen to the program here, but reading the transcript—which includes helpful hyperlink resources—may help flesh-out the discussion.

Highlights:

  • Pakistan’s military stress in combating terrorist groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
  • Pakistan’s past links—through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Service—to the group thought responsible for the India attacks, Lashkar-e-Taiba
  • India’s frustrating position: facing public pressure for decisive action, but all options in front of it—full scale military movement in Pakistan, a limited military response, or air-strikes against terrorist bases in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir—have serious drawbacks
  • America’s delicate role as mediator. On the one hand, the United States must stand with India—a critical new partner in the region, with whom a nuclear deal was just approved. On the other hand, Pakistan—a domestically turbulent nuclear power—plays a critical role in battling Al Qaeda and other terrorists along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Below is the transcript from the NewsHour segment:

Ray Suarez: “Michael Krepon, today India pointed to Pakistan and said it is demanding strong action against those who perpetrated this action. What does that mean? What can Pakistan do at this point?”

read full transcript here

Posted in India, Pakistan, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Congressional WMD & Terrorism Commission Sounds Alarm Bell Amidst Worries Of Unconventional Nuclear & Biological Attacks, Dysfunctional Congressional Oversight

Posted by proliferationpr on December 1, 2008

“Unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013…”

 “Congressional oversight is dysfunctional…”

-soon-to-be released report from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism (CPWMD);  executive summary

As noted earlier on Proliferation Press, the CPWMD will be releasing Wednesday what appears to be a dreary look at the WMD proliferation threats facing our country and the world. In the backdrop of last week’s terrorists attacks in India and the likely role some commission members may play in the Obama administration, well-timed leaks to the NYTimes and Washington Post are promising the commission’s report some limelight from policy makers and journalists alike.

A November 30th report in WaPo focused on the threat of biological attack. It highlights a serious gap in American’s security system: that many research labs equipped with dangerous biological materials evade federal regulation since they are private and hold pathogens not on the government watch-list of known biowarfare agents. According to the report, this means there are currently non-regulated labs holding the SARS virus—the virus used in a series of biological attacks in 2001, resulting in 5 deaths.

Not to be left out, the NYTimes today released a report outlining the report’s executive summary.

The Commission recites a typical litany of policy prescriptions: renewed efforts to curtail Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs; improved defenses against bioterrorism; and a new energy in multilateral approaches to containing the threat of WMD proliferation and terrorism—with particular focus on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Yet what is most worrisome is the report’s dismal assessment of Congressional oversight in regards to WMD proliferation and terrorism. After seven years it appears the US Government has failed to lay out and comprehensive and peer-reviewed strategy for combating the gravest threats to American security. Having already ceded most of its war-powers authority, can Congress really afford to be as a impediment to prudent policies that aim to prevent another 9-11?

Before highlighting sections of the NYTimes report, there are topics

  • Discussing/proposing an effective form of Congressional oversight over the gravest threats to American security, or simply pointing how ‘how’ the current Congressional oversight is dysfunctional. Is the key problem a lack of executive-congressional communication? Overlapping committees? Or is it simply a product of the White House running executive agencies, with Congress seen as too much a source of undesired leaks, partisan back-biting and echo-chamber discussion?

  • A system of distinguishing the ‘must-have’ from the ‘wish-list’. Pointing out flaws in the current system is valuable, but only if tied to a frank discussion of American capabilities are and how to best use them toward preventing WMD proliferation and terrorism. For example, how can America work towards both a proliferation-safe Pakistan and the need to safeguard American laboratories with SARS; and let’s not forget the looming threat of a radiological device stored away in a commercial ship’s cargo going off while docked at an American port.  

  • A rubric by which to judge success of failure. While both the WaPo and NYTimes reports suggest critical administration and Congressional failings, how do individual mistakes add-up to a conclusive judgment on US efforts to combat WMD proliferation and terrorism? (And will the general public ever know of covert policy successes?)

From the NYTimes report:

The panel’s 13 recommendations focus on fighting the threat of bioterrorism, including improved bioforensic capabilities, and strengthening international organizations, like the International Atomic Energy Agency, to address the nuclear threat. It also calls for a comprehensive approach for dealing with Pakistan.

Over all, the findings and recommendations seek to serve as a road map for the Obama administration.

The commission urges the Obama administration to work to halt the Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs, backing up any diplomatic initiatives with “the credible threat of direct action” — code for military action, a commission official said.

Two weeks ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atom bomb.

The commission also criticized the administration and Congress for not organizing themselves more effectively to combat the threat of unconventional weapons. The report recommended a single White House-level office or individual responsible for directing the nation’s policy to prevent the spread of unconventional weapons and their possible use by terrorists.

Posted in Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruc, Congress, Terrorism, WMD | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

India-Pakistan First: Pakstan to Send ISI Chief to India for Intelligence Sharing

Posted by proliferationpr on November 28, 2008

Reporting of the recent terrorist carnage in India can be found seemingly everywhere, but the Times of Indiain my opinion–offers the best one-stop hub for updates.

And one of those updates is the unlikely move by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to send ISI Chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to India for inteligence sharing. The ISI is Pakistan’s military intelligence service, and boasts a grisly and controversial history–connections with previous terrorist attacks against India; ties to Islamic extremist groups; and, finally, strong-arming Pakistan’s internal politics.

This move, coming on the heels of Pakistan’s Prime Minister closing ISI’s political wing, show Pakistan’s apparent determination to 1) reel in intra-state instability and 2) prove non-involvement in the deadly, coordinated and still on-going terrorist attacks in India.

Update: Gotta love Pakistan’s new liberal order

Pakistan’s leading opposition party is already laying into Gilani’s move, criticizing Gilani for giving credence to Indian claims of Pakistani involvement in the attacks. The spokesman for the opposition PML party suggests a joint-task force would have been a better response.

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Harvard Releases New Report On Nuclear Terrorism; Snags Coverage on CNN

Posted by proliferationpr on November 19, 2008

 

The Project on Managing the Atom has released ‘Securing the Bomb 2008’. It is the seventh in a series of annual reports that seek to assess the threat of nuclear terrorism and prescribe policies to diminish this grave danger to international security.

The report has already scored a considerable press coup by earning time on CNN’s ‘Situation Room’, in a story by CNN reporter Dan Lothian. The report focused on the report’s call for a nuclear terrorism czar who should serve within the national security team with an independent staff.

The Project on Managing the Atom is based at the Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The report can be read here; the executive summary here; and the press release here.

The cable news report presented a boiled down version of the report’s press release and of offered brief commentary from the Belfer Center’s Matthew Bunn, CNN’s David Gergen and the Heritage Institute’s Peter Brookes. Bunn reaffirmed the new for a nuclear terrorism czar; Gergen highlighted the threat of nuclear terrorism arising from ‘loose nukes’ in a volatile Pakistan as rivaling the turmoil in Iraq and Iran’s continuing nuclear ambitions; and, finally, Brookes lauded the report, but insisted appointing Nuclear Czar will not be a “silver bullet” in eliminating the danger of nuclear terrorism.

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Congressional WMD & Terrorism Commission: Upcoming Report; Gauge of Obama’s Future Policy?

Posted by proliferationpr on November 19, 2008

How is our nation doing on WMD prevention and terrorism? We’ll find out soon. Market Watch reports that the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism will release it’s findings on December 3rd. (The original press release can be found here)

The congressionally-created Commission’s ambitious mission? To assess America’s anti-terrorism and WMD prevention strategies. With the mainstream-news fixated on presidential transition updates & economic woes, we’ll see how much press traction the Commission’s work achieves.

But there’s a twist—which may just make this report a leading indicator the incoming Obama administration’s own WMD and terrorism policy priorities. Commission member Wendy R. Sherman, currently a senior partner of The Albright Group, now spearheads Obama’s policy review team for Department of State.

Here’s the Commission’s membership in full:

(Update: Member bios here—and a nice summary of Commission activities can be found here)

Bob Graham, Chairman and former Senator (D-FL)

Jim Talent, Vice Chairman and former Senator (R-MO)

Members include: Graham Allison, Robin Cleveland, Wendy Sherman, Henry Sokolski, Stephen Rademaker, Timothy Roemer and Rich Verma.

Posted in Congress, Diplomacy, Nuclear, WMD | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Brown and Zardari Talk Terrorism

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 19, 2008

An interesting (if two-day old) Guardian report on anti-terrorism talks between President Zardari and Prime Minister Brown:

It is thought that Zardari outlined to Brown Pakistan’s plan to combat terrorism, which included a proposal to set up a dedicated cell inside the Pakistani high commission in London to help track British Pakistanis suspected of extremism. Most of the known terror plots in the UK have had some connection to Pakistan and often involved a visit there for training.

Zardari sought Brown’s help in promoting the idea of an anti-terror conference of Pakistan, Afghanistan and its neighbours Iran, China, Russia and India, along with Britain and the US as observers.

The idea is to reach a consensus among the countries most directly affected by the extremists based in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in an attempt to claim the ownership of the anti-terror fight as an indigenous struggle. A Zardari aide said: “We want to broaden the base for this war, to stop it being seen as … George Bush’s crusade. Otherwise, it just won’t wash at home.”

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