"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Usman_Khalid
Full Name: Brig (R) Usman Khalid
User since: 20/Sep/2007
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Abbotabad Commission Report

The Commission was required to produce a “credible narrative” either supporting the US narrative or writing an alternative; it did neither.

By Usman Khalid


Supreme Court Judge Presiding over Abbotabad Commission Meeting

The US raid on the house where Osama bin Laden (OBL) was hiding was a clandestine operation. In any clandestine operation, the public is given information which is never the whole truth but the effort is that it should be credible. In a clandestine operation mounted overseas – which all major intelligence mount from time to time – the most difficult issue is to meet the need of deniability of ‘incriminating truth’. If more than one country’s intelligence agency is involved, more than one narrative is available to the public. That makes deniability easier. In the 9/11 incident in New York there were three narratives available to public: that, 1) it was the work of an NGO called al-Qaeda, 2) it was the work of Israeli Mossad, 3) it was a ‘false flag’ operation by a US agency or insider connivance. The media fell in line with the ‘official view’ that it was the work of an ‘Islamist NGO’. Retaliation against the NGO which was alleged to be led by OBL based in Afghanistan was easily and universally endorsed. The Pakistan Government also endorsed that line but the people of Pakistan continued to believe that it was the work of Mossad. Several books and innumerable articles have been written discrediting the official US line. The Abbotabad Commission had the option of either endorsing the Government line of accepting the US narrative or rejecting it is favour of several alternative narratives. It did not have to accept any of the alternative narratives; it only had to create doubt about the US narrative. That would have been enough to get public approval , even approbation.

Evidence was available to the Commission from Pakistani sources to challenge the credibility of the IS narrative. The most important of these was a TV interview by Samaa TV interview with an eyewitness:

This was taken up by Paul Craig Roberts who had it transcribed by his own sources and published three articles based on its contents on the web site of ICH: The videos have since been removed from Youtube.

The contradictory statements given before the Commission, intimidation of eyewitnesses to stop them from appearing before the Commission, suspicious death of the entire SEAL team that carried out the Abbotabad operation in an air accident in Afghanistan, were quite adequate to discredit the US narrative. However, if it had been thought to be ‘wise’ to fall in line with the US narrative, there would have been no difficulty in doing that either. That the report was made public by ‘leakage’ to Al-Jazeera TV indicates implicit consent of the new Government. What is its objective and how does it wish to achieve it? I have no idea! What I am disappointed with is that the ‘leakage’ of the Commission Report provided an opportunity to sell a credible Pakistani narrative but that was left to the ‘juget’ (sarcasm) TV anchors. Although it is now well known that: 1) President Zardari was ‘informed’ of the US clandestine operation against a ‘high value’ target inside Pakistan, 2) PAF detected the presence of US F-15 aircraft in the air on Pak-Afghan border and sought instructions, 3) but President Zardari could not be contacted until well after the US operation had ended.

The military did not issue any statement but the Prime Minister Gilani hailed it as a ‘victory’ against terrorism. But the media continued to stress ‘intelligence failure’ and operational inadequacies of air defence. The Pakistani media was stressing the very same two points when the Commission Report was leaked. Admission of intelligence failure is always a safe bet in order to maintain ‘deniability’. However, the truth is that clandestine operations are top state secrets which draw deadly reaction from intelligence agencies when ‘deniability’ is under threat of being compromised. This is something that the Pakistani media as well as the judges have yet to understand. As for the Government, only the Chief Executive and very few others are privy to the fact of clandestine operations and all those in the know are bound by oath to keep that secret. That President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and Service Chiefs did not appear before the Commission was the right thing for them to do. But it was wrong for the Commission to make that appear as something sinister – making it appear ‘wrong doing’ bordering on criminality.

The Abbotabad Commission like every other judicial commission had a duty to produce a credible narrative without those responsible for state security appearing before it as witnesses. The Abbotabad Commission singularly failed in doing that. The media is supposed to focus on ‘holes’ in the official narrative in order to fill those holes. Their business is not to discredit the official narrative; it becomes an offence when the narrative relates to a clandestine operation by their state – every citizen has a duty of loyalty to the state. Comparison of the reports in the USA of the “successful” clandestine operation and “intelligence failure” of Pakistan is a story of ineptitude of Pakistan’s press and government spokesmen.

The press in USA and Canada has reported that the top “special operations commander” ordered the files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout to be purged from Defence Department computers and sent to the CIA. The secret move, described briefly in a draft report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps also the Freedom of Information Act.

The AP had asked for files that included copies of the death certificate and autopsy report for bin Laden as well as the results of tests to identify the body. While the Pentagon said it could not locate the files, the CIA never responded. The AP was informed in March 2012 it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier from which he was buried at sea. That represents a new strategy of the U.S. government to shield its sensitive activities from public scrutiny.

In contrast, the Pakistani media gave extensive coverage to unspecific but strong criticism in the Commission Report which accuses authorities of complacency, collective failure and negligence that allowed Osama bin Laden to live undetected in the country for more than nine years and his subsequent killing by the US troops in a covert operation in Pakistan. “OBL was able to stay within the limits of Abbotabad Cantonment due to a collective failure of the military authorities, the intelligence authorities, the police and the civilian administration,” said the report. “How the entire neighbourhood, local officials, police and security and intelligence officials all missed the size, the strange shape, the barbed wire, the lack of cars and visitors etc over a period of nearly six years beggars belief,” the report said.

Intelligence failure has been admitted on several occasions. What needs to be done now is to explain that the “decision” to allow the US operation to go ahead was taken properly at the appropriate level as there was no other ‘wise’ choice. ++


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