By Barry Lando
Thursday’s New York Times headline on Pakistani disappearances and U.S. disapproval is just a bit too much to take.
Difficult to believe that the Times could publish it with a straight face. “Rights Groups Tie Pakistan to Militants’ Disappearances.”
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is expressing alarm over reports that thousands of political separatists and captured Taliban insurgents have disappeared into the hands of Pakistan’s police and security forces, and that some may have been tortured or killed.
According to the Times, many of those who have vanished have nothing to do with the Taliban, but are Baluchis, a restive people in Pakistan long intent on forming an independent state. Equally alarming, the Pakistani authorities are refusing to admit any knowledge about most of the cases.
The matter has become so grave that the U.S. military is now actually refusing to train Pakistani military units that have been involved in torturing and killing detainees.
Of course, the U.S. will have nothing to do with such brutal tactics. Of course, the Obama administration is alarmed.
One can imagine the Pakistani officials shaking their heads in wonder. One can also wonder how U.S. officials could make their protests without a sickening sense of cynicism and shame.
I mean, c’mon guys, this is the same U.S.—different president, but same country—that disappeared thousands of suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants—some only teenagers—into places like Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo and rendered others off to allies for brutal interrogation. And aren’t CIA drones currently blowing apart scores of supposed Taliban and others in Pakistan—and elsewhere—without the inconvenience of arrest, questioning and trial?
We could go on and on about all this but we won’t. Surely, someone at the Times will bring it up in an editorial or Op-Ed piece in the next one or two days.
(They might even point out another subtler irony: The restive Baluchis also live in Iran. And that is where, according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, under the Bush administration, the CIA began aiding the Baluchis to carry out terrorist attacks in hopes of undermining the regime in Teheran. Not that different from the tactics the Pakistini intelligence organization, the ISI, is using in supporting some Taliban in Afghanistan—even as they arrest others in Pakistan.)
Barry M. Lando, a graduate of Harvard and Columbia, spent 25 years as an award-winning investigative producer with “60 Minutes.” He has produced numerous articles, a documentary and a book, “Web of Deceit,” about Iraq. Lando is just finishing a novel, “The Shomer Dossier.”
U.S. Army / Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith