Pretty soon Congress will face one of, if not the toughest votes of this legislative session – the decision on whether to raise our nation’s debt ceiling. It is perhaps the defining moment of nearly 87 new GOP freshmen, along with dozens others (including Democrats) who could lose their jobs come next November should they vote the wrong way.
Even now, analysts and staff are looking under every stone and in every congressional seat cushion to find savings. Even hundreds of millions of dollars could mean the difference of whether a program lives for another year or goes away.
In the span of about 24 hours, I think I have helped this government find close to $2 billion. Where? U.S. aid to Pakistan.
As details of the killing of Osama bin Laden emerge, what’s quickly becoming evident is the conspicuous culpability of the Pakistani government.
Look at the facts: Osama was living in what was essentially a military enclave in a town that housed Pakistani soldiers, both recruits and veterans of all walks. Further, the exact location was some 35 miles from the nation’s capital. Can you imagine one of a country’s alleged most wanted men living that close to the center of a government dedicated to finding him? He was essentially living in the Tyson’s Corner of Pakistan’s capital – Islamabad.
It’s no secret Pakistan wasn’t as eager to find Osama as the United States, but leaders did say repeatedly since 9/11 that they were committed to bringing the killer to justice. And every time the U.S. raised questions based on good intelligence that perhaps he was hiding on Pakistan’s side of the border, officials dismissed the idea.
A further indictment of this lack of willingness was the fact that no one informed the Pakistani government of the raid. If Pakistan was such a strong ally and partner in this manhunt, then why weren’t they told? Many U.S. intelligence officers believe and have said bluntly that Pakistan was either complicit in the hiding of Osama or were simply so incompetent they could offer the U.S. little in the way of intelligence. Further, military officers feared that if they warned Pakistan of the invasion, then they would have in turn notified Osama of the impending raid. Of course the intelligence process is imperfect at best and highly secretive. Our best partners are at times the most discrete ones -- Pakistan's true role may well never be known. One could conceive of an agreement in which Pakistani assistance did play a role, but due to their own complex domestic politics disclosure was not judged possible... we will most likely never know for sure.