Instead of letting us interrogate Gul...instead of giving up Osama, who they could hand over in a hot second if they felt like it...instead of coughing up the ISI's world-class files on every Islamic terror group from Morocco to Manila...instead of doing something real like that, our Paki pals put on a show for us, sending their army to stumble around the Pushtun zone.
They figured that would satisfy us. They don't think we're very bright. And the sad thing is, they're right.
The show they put on was lamer than a Chuck Norris war movie. Trucks full of scared troops trying to drive into the roughest landscape on the planet. Paki draftees wandering around mountain paths the Pushtuns could walk blindfolded, where they've been fighting Russians, Brits, Americans and each other for the past 200 years.
The results were what you'd expect: trucks blown apart by RPGs, Pak soldiers' corpses lying all over the mountains, and a few dozen "militants" supposedly killed and captured.
And for what? That was the funniest part: the Paki generals started out saying they had Al-Qaeda's #2 man holed up in the Pushtun zone, and then announced he'd escaped, and then that he'd never been there in the first place...and finally settled for claiming that they'd managed to kill "Mr. Abdullah." Oooo, we finally got Mr. Abdullah! Just one little question: who the Hell is Mr. Abdullah?
The official answer is he was an Uzbek intelligence officer who ranked No. 10 on the Al-Qaeda Wanted list. Yeah, sure. Who came up with that ranking, anyway -- the WBC? I've been watching these lists like a horseplayer down to his last $2 bet, and I sure don't remember "Mr. Abdullah" figuring anywhere near the top.
The Pakis' crusade was bad war but great TV. The bit I remember best was a live report by Ken Robinson, CNN's "National Security Correspondent." There was Ken, all soldiered up in his camo and his beard, talking to a CNN anchorlady who looked like a Fresno prom queen class of '86. Ken's got big news this time. You can see how excited he is, like all the months of diarrhea and Pakistani hole toilets are going to pay off with a Pulitzer...'cause this time it's for real. The Pakistani generals told him that they've got none other than Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri cornered up there.
If that was true, it really would be big news, because Al-Zawahiri is for real. He's an impressive guy, the real brains behind Osama -- an Egyptian doctor who gave it all up to preach revolution. Since we first started looking for him in Afghanistan, I must've heard two dozen TV bulletins announcing we'd killed or captured him. I believed the first dozen. After that I got kind of less trusting.
But Ken, CNN's fearless frontline correspondent, didn't have a doubt in his head that the Paki generals were telling the truth about having Al-Zawahiri treed at last. He was saying stuff like, "I cannot believe that we would see al-Zawahari or Osama bin Laden captured alive. I believe they both would probably fight to the death." In between live reports from Ken, CNN kept the soap opera going with teasers like this: "If the supposed high-value target turns out to be al-Zawahiri, his capture -- or death -- would be a huge feather in the cap of the Bush administration."
Great, guys... but what makes you think he's in there in the first place?
Ken never asked that question, never doubted the Paki generals' word. He just kept talking about all the info we'd find on Al-Zawahiri's dead body: "Every one of these captures in Pakistan...has been found with computer disks, with Rolodexes, with pocket litter, all of which has led to more intelligence.... And I suspect that in this case we'll find the same thing..."
That was on March 18. Three days later Fox and CNN were still promising that Al-Zawahiri was out there somewhere. Around March 23 they started admitting that he'd slipped the net. A day or so after that they finally admitted that Al-Zawahiri had probably never been there. And now they're dragging out this no-name Uzbek, "Mr. Abdullah," trying to pretend that he's the "high-value target" they'd been looking for all along.